“Jul 31, 2020

Victoria, BC– The Capital Regional District (CRD), in partnership with the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, today released the 2020 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time (PiT) Count results. The 2020 PiT Count follows prior biennial counts made in 2016 and 2018 and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homeless Strategy.

On the evening of March 11, 2020, 1,523 individuals were found to be homeless in the capital region compared to 1,525 on March 15, 2018. Due to year over year changes in methodology, these two numbers do not necessarily suggest trends in the region.

The PiT count should be treated as an under-estimate. Some individuals value their privacy and prefer not to participate in the survey while others experiencing “hidden” homelessness are difficult to reach and, therefore, would not be included in this count.

The results of the 2020 PiT Count and survey will be used with ongoing shelter-use data, as well as information gathered through planning, for the creation of a Coordinated Assessment and Access service and Homelessness Management Information System which will improve service delivery, real-time reporting of homelessness levels and help achieve better outcomes for homeless individuals. An accompanying technical appendix was also developed by the CSPC and released with the key findings of the 2020 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time Homeless Study.

The requirements for physical distancing and isolation within the COVID-19 public health emergency measures contributed to a significant increase in the number of people sheltering out-of-doors in parks and along boulevards following the March 11 count and survey. A number of extreme weather shelters could not remain open beyond their planned March 31 closures and established shelters had to substantially reduce their nightly admissions due to the need to ensure individuals were provided with the ability to maintain an appropriate physical distance. As well, many people had to leave informal sheltering spaces (“couch surfing”) with family and friends due to the need for physical distancing. Correction and health institutions were forced to discharge people into homelessness during the emergency because there were no new sheltering options available in the community as the pandemic deepened.

The closure and significant curtailment of outreach services during the pandemic also contributed to the congregation of large numbers of unsheltered people in areas where limited services remained available (Pandora Avenue) and in public spaces where emergency services were provided (Topaz Park).

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic mobilized the BC Government, through BC Housing, in partnership with housing, service and health providers, to aid homeless individuals into more permanent housing. About 134 individuals have found housing in hotels purchased by BC Housing, while 347 are currently being housed in hotel rentals in Victoria.

The CRD is also currently working in partnership with BC Housing and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to deliver the Regional Housing First Program, a $120 million partnership that will fund the development of 400 units of housing offered at social assistance shelter rates to address the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness in the region.

For more information on the 2020 PiT Count, including the full report and FAQs, please visit https://www.crd.bc.ca/about/what-we-do/regional-housing/research-and-planning

 

Quotes:

Christine Culham, Senior Manager, Regional Housing, Capital Regional District: “The CRD, in its role as Community Entity on behalf of the Government of Canada, facilitates the Point-in-Time Count bi-annually. The Count results are instrumental in guiding the housing, social supports and health supports community in its planning processes to ensure that resources are invested in areas of greatest need.”

Kelly Roth, Executive Director, Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness: “The survey results are indicative of the vulnerability to homelessness people experience because of structural factors such as poverty, stigma and discrimination, a lacking in some key resources to address complex human needs and a lack of choice when trying to find safe and adequate housing with the proper supports.”

Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, Executive Director of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness: “Recognizing that there are unique drivers, experiences and needs of Indigenous homeless, there was a strong focus on reaching out to Indigenous People in this Point-in-Time Count. We drew together key Indigenous organizations to work together to reach out to the Indigenous homeless, particularly youth and those experiencing hidden homelessness that the Indigenous organizations often work with or support.”

Diana Gibson, Executive Director of the Community Social Planning Council: “We were overwhelmed by the support from volunteers, donors, supporters, and community partners. Although the Point-in-Time Count process has limitations, it provides a minimum estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night and highlights the diversity of people experiencing homelessness in the region and the challenges they face.”

 

Proud to be recognized as one of BC’s Top Employers and Canada’s Greenest Employers, the CRD delivers regional, sub-regional and local services to 13 municipalities and three electoral areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Governed by a 24-member Board of Directors, the CRD works collaboratively with First Nations and all levels of government to enable sustainable growth, foster community well-being, and develop cost-effective infrastructure while continuing to provide core services to residents throughout the region. Visit us online at www.crd.bc.ca.

 

For media inquiries, please contact:
Andy Orr, Senior Manager
CRD Corporate Communications
Tel: 250.360.3229
Cell: 250.216.5492

In Crisis?:

If you require urgent emotional support, including having thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues, please call Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.

Youth (under 25 years of age) may access youthspace.ca for online emotional support.

For other resources, including shelter availability, visit bc211.ca