Homelessness in New West

Council candidate Lynda Fletcher-Gordon has provided a link to a PDF file with some stats on homelessness in New Westminster. She and Jaimie McEvoy have been the candidates who have, in my opinion, placed the most emphasis on the issue in our city so far. 

Both candidates have a track record in this area. Fletcher-Gordon is the Executive Director of the Purpose Society and she and McEvoy are involved in the Homelessness Society, which produced the report I’ve linked to above.

Some interesting facts from the report: 
  • Homelessness has increased by about 35% in New West compared to the 2005 count (it has increased throughout the GVRD)
  • 58% of the homeless who were counted in 2008 were living on the streets
  • 74% are men (slightly above the regional average of 72%)
  • 27% identify as aboriginal (slightly below the regional average of 32%)
Vancouver-wide stats: 
  • 48% of the people counted were homeless for a year or longer;
  • 80% lived in the municipality where they were counted for one year or more;
  • 71% considered their ‘home’ to be in Metro Vancouver;
  • 61% reported an addiction problem;1
  • 33% reported a mental illness.
Top three reasons for being homeless (as identified by the homeless in the GVRD):
  • Lack of income (25%)
  • High cost of housing (19%) 
  • Addiction problems (17%) – interesting note:  68% of the street homeless reported an addiction problem compared to 48% of the sheltered homeless.
  • Establish a homelessness resource centre with programs and facilities focused on addiction recovery, employment assistance, medical services and life skills training
  • Create additional spaces in transition housing for women and children fleeing abuse (estimated demand is 3-4 times available space)
  • Create social housing spaces for single adults (the majority of social housing projects currently focus on families, people with disabilities and seniors)
  • Improve access to addiction and mental health services

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