The CBC has reported that the number of people sleeping on the street in Metro Vancouver has increased by 30 per cent since the most recent 2014 count. On March 7 and 8, volunteers counted 3,605 folks who had no home. Of this number, 1,032 were “unsheltered, including those sleeping in doorways, alleys, parks or couch surfing.” Another 2,573 people were sheltered, “including those sleeping in homeless shelters, extreme weather shelters, transition houses, jails or detox facilities.”
“The committee will do further analysis, including demographic breakdowns of who is homeless, but they wanted to release what they had now to put homelessness on the agenda of the B.C. election.“We’re not going to solve this anytime soon but we can do a lot better than we’re doing.”
There have been calls for the Province to work more diligently with local municipalities on this issue. Glenn Schafer of the Vancouver Sun has also reported that the numbers could be four times higher, with factors like a low vacancy rate and high rents contributing to the problem. Most upsetting, one-third of all homeless identify as being aboriginal, while homeless youth are ten per cent of this total number with 378 counted on the nights of the survey.
We can talk about tolls on bridges and the lack of good transit in Metro Vancouver and rue the spotty decision-making of the current Provincial government. But when it comes to taking care of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens that are sleeping rough on the street, they can’t wait for any debate. What will it take for the Province to truly commit to help the most desperate in our society? Shelter is a human right, the first expression of dignity and something that everyone should have access to.