Provincial homeless count including Terrace numbers released

Ministry says they will work with local governments on strategy

Results from a provincial report that gathered data from 24 separate homeless counts, including Terrace, was released earlier this week.

This is the first time a provincial count has been held in B.C., and the first time Terrace has been a part of the larger data picture. It revealed that Terrace has one of the highest per capita rates in northwest B.C. for communities with similar population numbers.

Approximately 0.82 per cent of Terrace’s 11,643 residents struggle to find sustainable housing. Prince Rupert’s numbers stand at 0.60 per cent, with Smithers at 0.26 per cent.

Minister of social development and poverty reduction Shane Simpson told the Terrace Standard the ministry recognizes there isn’t a broad brush they can use when it comes to homelessness initiatives, and the involvement of municipalities like Terrace will help build a strategy catered to individual community needs.

“We know that we need to have a strategy that absolutely focuses on smaller communities like Terrace, that works closely with the people in the community, local government and service providers, who know the community better than we know it as a provincial government,” Simpson says.

READ MORE: Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

The provincial data found 7,655 people are homeless across B.C., 37 per cent of whom are regularly living on the street and not in shelter spaces.

The staggering statistic includes 219 children under the age of 19 who were accompanied by a parent or guardian at the time of the count.

The three main barriers to accessing housing by those spoken to during the counts were high rents, low incomes and a lack of available, suitable housing, according to the report. Mental health, addiction and lack of supports after aging out of foster care were other key issues.

Provincially, more than half of respondents, or 56 per cent, reported battling addiction, while 58 per cent reported having two or more health conditions.

Nearly 30 per cent of those counted had been in foster care or a youth group home. About 40 per cent were on income assistance, and 29 per cent were relying on disability benefits to get by. Nearly 20 per cent said they were employed.

Indigenous people are also over-represented, the report found, making up 38 per cent of the total number of those without housing.

The provincial government says the report serves as a baseline for B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy, which is expected to be released in 2019.

READ MORE: Terrace homeless count nears 100

In order to be a part of the study, Terrace had to use the B.C. Housing survey tool and honour the restrictions of getting answers from unwilling participants.

Overall, 96 people were noted homeless on April 18 in Terrace, a 28 per cent increase over the past four years’ averages.

The top three barriers to finding housing in Terrace were myriad, but had 46 per cent of people saying the rent was too high, followed by low income at 34 per cent, and addictions at 31 per cent — 50 per cent admitted to living with addictions in general.

Of those who identified as homeless, 77 per cent were men primarily between the ages of 25 and 54 years old. Eighty-six per cent of the 72 respondents identified as Indigenous.

The data gathered from smaller communities has shown how diverse the issue is across B.C., says Simpson.

“What works in Vancouver or Victoria isn’t necessarily going to work in Terrace,” he says. “We want to make sure we have a good of a picture as we can of the local situation, and then we’re going to do these counts every couple years and hopefully be able to track the progress that we’re making.”


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

UPDATE: missing 12-year-old Terrace boy found safe

Was reported missing on Southside around 10 p.m. July 9

Terrace conservation officers relocate Spirit bear

Bear roamed Kitsumkalum Valley north of Terrace for many years

Seabridge Gold starts drilling along proposed tunnel route north of Stewart

Twin tunnels will connect the KSM mine to its mill and tailings site

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

RCMP confirm homicide investigation underway near Quesnel

Police releasing few details four days after homicide occurred Monday, July 6

Most Read