FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Homelessness Services Association of B.C. (HSABC) made a presentation to Council on Monday on their survey of homelessness counts in area and B.C.
The presenters, Stephen D’Souza the Executive Director of HSABC and James Caspersen, Urban Systems 2020 Homeless Count Project Manager spoke about how the area of Fort St. John looks different for the homeless count to other areas and why the count is done.
What makes Fort St. John unique is the climate as some homeless will couch surf making it hard to identify them, the lack of affordable housing in the area and the cost of living vs low wages can impact the numbers compared to other areas. Other reasons that attribute to the homelessness count shared in the presentation are due to discrimination of indigenous people, lack of supports in the community and individual circumstances.
In 2018, the first survey was a scan of where homeless counts were as they had never been performed before. These counts are extremely important for decision-makers to identify trends in homelessness to be able to advocate and help the needs of these people in the community.
The count that took place in 2018 has been noted as an undercounted number. 61 people in Fort St. John that were homeless, and out of those 61 people, 40 were sheltered while 21 claimed to be unsheltered.
The 2018 survey also found that 57 percent of those surveyed said the reason for being homeless was due to having too low of an income
With initiatives taking place around the city and new affordable housing opening in Fort St. John, the second homelessness count taking place in 2020 will provide numbers that can help determine where the current need is.
The survey will focus on a number of aspects of homelessness, such as demographics, income, and medical issues.
This homeless count will take place along with counts across the province and Canada.