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Volunteers needed for Metro Vancouver homeless count

Organizers are looking for about 1,200 volunteers
homeless-count
Last year’s homeless count in Vancouver recorded 2,223 residents in the city identified as homeless. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Organizers are looking for more than 1,000 volunteers to help with Metro Vancouver’s 2020 homeless count.

“The regional homeless count is such an important tool for people working with individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as those in the community housing sector,” Jill Atkey, CEO of B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, said in a press release.

“The demographic information helps service providers tailor their programs to better meet the needs of the individuals they’re serving, and the trends we see over time are critical for policy development for all levels of government and the non-profit groups that are working to prevent and end homelessness.”

Organizers are looking for about 1,200 volunteers in communities across Metro Vancouver, including:

  • Vancouver,
  • Burnaby
  • Delta
  • Langley (City and Township)
  • New Westminster
  • North Shore (City and District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver)
  • Richmond
  • Ridge Meadows (Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows)
  • Surrey
  • Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody)
  • White Rock

Organizers are looking for volunteers with experience in a previous homeless count, those who work with people experiencing homelessness (nurses, outreach staff or first responders), students in social service fields and people with lived experience of homelessness.

Experienced volunteers are paired with people who are new to the count.

This year’s count will take place Tuesday, March 3 in the evening and Wednesday, March 4 between 6 a.m. and midnight.

The Metro Vancouver homeless count has been conducted every three years since 2002. In 2017, the count identified about 3,605 people experiencing homelessness in the region, either living on the streets, or staying in shelters or temporarily in other facilities.

The 2020 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver is an initiative of the Reaching Home Interim Community Entity, Vancity Community Foundation and Community Advisory Board.

The Homeless Count is delivered in partnership with the Indigenous Reaching Home Community Entity, the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee, the Council of Community Homelessness Tables, and is conducted by BC Non-Profit Housing Association.

 In 2012, the City of Vancouver started conducting its own annual homeless count.

Last year’s count, which took place March 12 and 13, found 2,223 residents in Vancouver identified as homeless — 614 living on the street and 1,609 people living in sheltered locations, such as emergency shelters, detox centres, safe houses and hospitals, with no fixed address.

In January, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and provincial housing minister Selina Robinson refused to predict whether this year’s homeless count will show an increase or decrease.

However, both said they are working together to secure land, build more homes and find housing for the city’s homeless, including having 3,500 new homes underway or completed in Vancouver since 2017.

For more information, or to volunteer for this year’s homeless count, visit:  www.vancitycommunityfoundation.ca/initiatives/2020-homeless-count or vancouver.ca/people-programs/homeless-count.

- with files from Mike Howell

Read more from the Vancouver Courier