Terrace homeless count nears 100

Baseline figure more than 30 higher since 2017

Addictions and affordable housing continue to impact the number of homeless in Terrace, according to this year’s homeless count.

Overall, 96 people were found homeless on the day of the study, April 18, a 28 per cent increase over the past four years’ averages. Allowing for the multiple answers for some questions, the study also found 46 per cent cited high rents as the main barrier to housing, 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 72 respondents identified as Indigenous.

While the count is approximate to last year’s result, the study’s authors warn the point-in-time study cannot account for the homeless not visible on the day of the count.

“This is a minimum baseline number,” said Chris Gee, homeless count manager and NWCC instructor.

READ MORE: Terrace homeless count taps into larger data pool

“There are definitely people who are homeless who were not included in the count. We also have this category of the hidden homeless. These are people that are not downtown, that are in an apartment with five other people, or squished into a place with three other families. Technically they’re considered homeless, but they’re couch surfing, or crashing, or anything where we’ll never see them to include them in the count. So what’s important with this 96-person figure is that it’s just the visible homeless, just the people we were able to find in a 24-hour period.”

The city started conducting an annual homeless count in 2014 when 67 people identified themselves as homeless. In 2015, it was 73 persons, and in 2016, it was 113 persons. In 2017, the count decreased to 63.

The City of Terrace’s survey this year was contracted to Northwest Community College’s community development class with students in the social work diploma program. It also marked the first year the count adopted the BC Housing Survey Tool employed by other communities and the federal government’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy. Using uniform questions and guidelines helps create a map of homelessness that can stand up to direct comparisons and rigorous data interpretation, Gee said. In order to achieve that uniformity, communities must abide by the rule to disqualify anyone not visible, who refused to participate, or was hesitant in acknowledging their homelessness.

The count serves as a benchmark measurement, to which Gee related this year’s 96 homeless to the tip of an iceberg, Gee told city council last week presenting the findings.

READ MORE: More than 100 homeless in Terrace B.C. (2016)

Councillor Stacey Tyers suggested via telephone the number of hidden homeless may be as high as 400-per-cent.

In terms of visible homelessness Gee feels the report offers valuable insights for the city and other agencies to act upon. He said there’s a misconception visible homelessness stems from other communities, where the problem naturally gravitates to larger centres like Terrace. However the study found 67 per cent have lived here for more than five years; 41 per cent have been here more than 10 years.

Thirty-eight people declined to answer the question. Mayor Carole Leclerc and Councillor Michael Prevost asked why that number was higher than previous years, and whether the data was reliable.

“One of the most important questions for us, as a council, is where people are from,” Prevost said. “Where are the gaps in services that are bringing people to this community.”

Gee was confident with the findings, saying in order to be a part of the larger data picture in the province it was necessary to use the B.C. Housing survey tool and honour the restrictions of plying answers from unwilling participants.

He later told the Terrace Standard council is right to want a clear picture of the problem, but the survey is also designed to be highly conservative in its results.

“The provincial count occurs every three years but in Terrace it’s every one year. So there’s obviously a political will to understand what’s going on,” he said. “With the tightening of the methodology this year I honestly thought it would be lower, but we’re still in the top range. I was surprised.”


 


quinn@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

New Aiyansh stun Hydaburg to claim first ever All Native Masters Division title

Buzzer beating three pointer by Rich Wolff caps wild comeback; Justin Adams chosen as MVP

CMTN’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art holds annual exhibit

Artwork will be showcased until Feb. 29 at the Terrace Art Gallery

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

Caledonia’s senior girls’ basketball team heads to provincials

Kermodes will be competing in Langley, B.C.

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read