How many homeless people are there in Terrace, B.C.?

The city's second annual homeless count aims to answer that question

Volunteers Suzi Annala-Macdonald

The main organizer of a homeless count planned for next week, the second in as many years, expects this year’s tally to be higher than last year’s figure of 64 people.

“I think it is worse than last year,” said Mike Watson, a case worker at the Terrace and District Community Services Society (TDCSS). “Last year was when it all started to happen, when everything was starting to boom around here and the rents went up.”

Watson said he increasingly can’t find apartments for his clients because subsidized housing units are full and wait lists are long.

Joining him for the homeless count will be his TDCSS coworker and Northwest Community College Social Work graduate Julie Mahil along with six volunteers for the count which has the support of the city.

The count is scheduled for April 21 and 22 which are the first days of the month when income assistance cheques are made available.

“People who are living in the bush come into town that day,” said Watson.

People without an address collect less – $200 – than the $620 for recipients who do have one, he said.

The counting team will also check spots along the railway tracks and in the woods where homeless stay, asking each individual questions on a form that they fill out which records gender, age and other data.

Watson said this year the team will try to better record the number of homeless youth whom he says are frequently couch-surfing and might not be in the local shelters and soup kitchens where much of the homeless count is done.

City planner Tara Irwin said the information itself will be valuable to use in future discussions about housing and provides comparative data for last year’s count.

She said it might help guide the use of city resources such as the $500,000 the city has tucked away in an account available for subsidized housing plans.

This money is reserved by the city for potential partnerships with developers aimed at the affordable housing market.

“Is it for the actual homeless, or is it for transitional housing, where is this fund best spent and on what kind of housing, because of course there is a big continuum of need,” said Irwin.

The homeless count is financed by the city – $2,500 was spent last year and about $1,500 has been set aside this year.

“We can’t understand a problem unless we know what we are dealing with. It’s an attempt to get a better understanding of homeless situation in our community and have that data available,” said Irwin of the count. And Watson has been hearing about a city-led plan to bolster affordable housing stock in Terrace, and hopes the study will provide the hard data needed to move things forward.

“We are hoping they will respond by building some more affordable housing or trying to get some freed up so people will have a place to live before next winter. They said last year it was in the works, we will have to see if what was said will actually happen,” said Watson of the city and the provincial BC Housing agency.

Just Posted

As population ages, City of Terrace brings back healthy lifestyle program for seniors

The Choose to Move program will offer coaching and peer support

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Terrace’s Co-op lands a hard sell to developers

City takes down ‘for sale’ sign, turns attention to more urgent projects

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

Two Terrace homeless campsites levelled

Private property owners brought in crews to clear trees, brush

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

Most Read