“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

The month of June is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about Indigenous history together. We celebrate National Indigenous History Month by reflecting on the history, heritage and sacrifices of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is also an opportunity to recognize the strength and contributions of present-day Indigenous communities.

Most importantly, National Indigenous History Month is a time for learning.

Indigenous Homelessness in Canada

The definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada as adopted by Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy – developed by the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee and the Provincial Indigenous Homelessness Committee in 2019:  

“Indigenous Peoples who are in the state of having no home due to colonization, trauma and/or whose social, cultural, economic, and political conditions place them in poverty. Having no home includes: those who alternate between shelter and unsheltered, living on the street, couch surfing, using emergency shelters, living in unaffordable, inadequate, substandard and unsafe accommodations or living without the security of tenure; anyone regardless of age, released from facilities (such as hospitals, mental health and addiction treatment centers, prisons, transition houses), fleeing unsafe homes as a result of abuse in all its definitions, and any youth transitioning from all forms of care”. 

As stated by Caryl Patrick, a York University researcher, “Aboriginal homelessness in Canada is a crisis that should be considered an epidemic.” 

On and off reserve, Aboriginal Canadians are disproportionately poor and vulnerable to homelessness. Today, Urban Indigenous Peoples experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate and make up a significant percentage of the homeless populations in cities. According to Patrick (2014) “Some sources have suggested that Indigenous homelessness in major urban areas ranges from 20-50% of the total homeless population, while others have reported that the range may be much wider – from 11 to 96%.

  • In Greater Victoria, one-third (33%) of respondents experiencing homelessness identified as Indigenous, much higher than the proportion of Indigenous people among the broader population (4.7%). – Point-in-Time Count 2018

Causes

Indigenous experiences of homelessness can be directly correlated to the ongoing impacts of colonization, including Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, displacement from land, culture, and resources through the Indian Act, and the intergenerational trauma rooted in the ongoing process of colonization.

Existing social issues in Indigenous communities including familial dysfunction, substance use, addictions, health issues, and community violence can be directly linked to these unresolved historical and cultural intergenerational traumas contributing to  high incarceration rates, high suicide rates amongst youth and Indigenous pathways into homelessness.

According to the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, two critical changes set the stage for a massive rise in homelessness in Canada in the 1990s:

1) The federal government began housing cuts in the 1980s and stopped developing new subsidized, affordable housing in 1993. Growth in housing need began to outpace the number of available social housing units. Canada also made employment insurance qualifications more restrictive in the 1990s. 

2) Residential real estate prices in major cities have more than doubled in the past 15 years, while real income stagnated or declined. Higher mortgages led landlords to increase rents dramatically. Combined, these changes have prevented the most vulnerable Canadians from attaining affordable housing and impacted Aboriginal people more drastically than other populations.

While all Canadians are facing an increase in income inequality and decreased availability of affordable housing across Canada, Indigenous peoples must also face discriminatory structural issues such as transitions from reserves to urban living, racism, and landlord discrimination.

Research has also shown that Indigenous Peoples experience lower levels of education, poorer health, higher rates of unemployment, and lower-income levels compared to non-Indigenous people.

Local Facts

  • In the Greater Victoria 2018 Point-in-Time Count, one-third (33%) of respondents experiencing homelessness identified as Indigenous, much higher than the proportion of Indigenous people among the broader population (4.7%).
  • More than a third of Indigenous respondents identified the need for services that relate to intergenerational trauma (37.2%) and Indigenous treatment (33.6%). (Point-in-Time Count 2018)
  • Over a fifth (21.3%) of Indigenous respondents identified the need for culturally sensitive services. (Point-in-Time Count 2018)
  • A higher proportion of Indigenous respondents identified as female and women (40.3%) and other gender identities (4.2%) compared to the non-Indigenous survey population (24.5% and 0.9% respectively). (Point-in-Time Count 2018)
  • In a survey conducted by the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, “Health and Well Being: Our Voices, Our Vision” (2018):
    • Indigenous respondents reported being released back onto the streets directly from the hospital.
    • Reported high usage of emergency room.
    • 65% of respondents indicated substance use as their biggest health challenge outside of physical health, 59% identified emotional health, and 56% indicated spiritual health as their biggest health challenges. These findings indicate that the needs of the Indigenous Street Community are not being fully met, and there is a need to Indigenize harm reduction practices.

National Facts

  • Indigenous Peoples makeup only 4.3% of the overall Canadian population but comprise 30.6% of the youth homelessness population.
  • According to Belanger et all (2013) , on any given night, 6.97 percent of the urban Indigenous population in Canada is homeless, as compared to a national average of 0.78 per cent.
  • Research by Belanger et al (2013) found that one in  15 urban Indigenous people are homeless, compared with the average of one in 128 non-Indigenous people across Canada. In other words, urban Indigenous people are about eight times more likely to be homeless than the non-Indigenous population.
  • According to Patrick (2014) “Some sources have suggested that Indigenous homelessness in major urban areas ranges from 20-50% of the total homeless population, while others have reported that the range may be much wider – from 11 to 96%.

Solutions

In our next blog honoring National Indigenous History Month, we will be looking at local and national solutions as identified by Indigenous respondents, local organizations, and government responses to indigenous homelessness.

Sources:

“Health and Well-Being: Our Voices, Our Vision” (2018): Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness

“The Roots of Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada”: By Andrew Leach, Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA), British Columbia, Canada, and a member of the St’at’imc Nation.

Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada: The Borgen Project

Priority Populations – Indigenous Homelessness: Homeless Hub

The 2018 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time Count

Indigenous Homelessness in Canada: Invisible People

“Our Place closed last Tuesday. They are still providing meals, paramedic services, handing out blankets, tents and hygiene supplies and providing access to washrooms. But the need on the block is growing. This comes as other shelters have also had to lower their capacity due to social distancing requirements. This has left already vulnerable people even more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC Housing, Island Health, the Coalition to End Homelessness and the City of Victoria have been working around the clock to develop an emergency response for the people who are most vulnerable, living outside, and unable to follow any of Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Henry’s orders – social distancing, wash your hands, stay at home.

To start, since Friday evening the Coalition to End Homelessness has been providing evening meal and health information in Centennial Square. Sunday, City Bylaw staff and Reverend Al from the Dandelion Society will be working to identify people’s immediate needs on the 900 block of Pandora.

The Dandelion Society, the Coalition to End Homelessness and City bylaw staff have been working over the weekend to implement Phase One of the plan as soon as possible. In Phase One (starting Sunday March 22) people will select a location to go to in a number of parks around the city where there will be food, water, and washrooms. They will be able to stay in tents in the short term. The exact details and locations are still being determined.

The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is playing a coordinating and communication role to ensure community members are aware of their emerging options for shelter, services, and health inquiries.

In Phase Two (which will take a little bit longer to roll out – we’re working as fast as we can) people will be assessed at these interim sites with particular attention to anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Based on need, preference, symptoms or no symptoms, and other criteria, people will move to appropriate indoor sheltering locations which will also be dispersed throughout the city.

BC Housing and Island health are working in partnership to ensure that there are spaces for self-isolation for those exhibiting symptoms. Island Health will play a role in assessing people’s health and symptoms at the assessment sites and will also identify health care staff to ensure health care professionals are available to support shelter sites.

The City of Victoria has asked that the Province use its powers under the Emergency Management Act to order that City facilities be used for the provision of services by BC Housing and Island Health. The Province has granted BC Housing the powers it requires to use City facilities for sheltering. Locations are in the process of being determined.

The Capital Regional District is leveraging existing and new emergency funding announced by the Government of Canada through the Reaching Home Program to support this important effort.”

LAID OFF AND LOOKING FOR WORK? CHAMBER JOB BOARD LISTS EMPLOYERS LOOKING FOR WORKERS

“Heart Pharmacy, Save on Foods, Island Health, Thrifty Foods, London Drugs – these are just some of the companies hiring right now.

Today the Chamber of Commerce repurposed their Jobs Board to serve the community. The Jobs Board connects employers looking for workers with workers affected by businesses that have closed in response to the shutdown of travel and the need for social distancing as mandated by government in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

After mandated restaurant closures today (now take out and delivery only) we know there will be more people looking for work. Pharmacies, grocery stores, island health and others are hiring right now. At time of this writing there are 37 jobs listed on the Jobs Board and more to come.

“There has been a lot of attention focused on layoffs but we’re also hearing from many employers who are struggling to fill positions in their organizations,” Chamber CEO Catherine Holt said. “The Chamber continues to call on all levels of government to provide immediate relief for businesses affected during this ongoing crisis. We also will do everything we can to continue connecting people to help sustain our economy and ensure all of us can recover quickly as soon as it is possible to do so.”

Workers in the hospitality industry have many transferable skills that are in demand during these extraordinary times. We need healthy people to help keep our grocery stores and pharmacies stocked and supplied, drivers to deliver goods to customers, cleaners to ensure our care homes and hospitals are safe. We are also seeing demand for people to assist accountants and financial institutions as they themselves try to help process a huge increase to their workload.

To access the Job Board as an employer in need of employees or as a worker able to fill a need, head here. At this time, employers are able to post at no charge by using the code SUPPORTYYJ.

Please share this post widely with anyone who needs a job or anyone who has a job to offer.”

“Being able to dream is recovery on its own.”  These are words that glued to me.

In a field often associated with best care practices, do’s and don’ts, and “always been done this way” doctrines, it is easy to detach from the basic healing properties of our own profound and human selves. In an era of heightened chatter, heaviness and reactivity, it is often easier to take the role of commuter rather than conductor, and while riding along can give us a sense of letting go, it is often easy to forget where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.

As a response to these characteristics and the barriers they can place on front line workers, Brian Dean Williams, a therapist, workshop leader, and meditation facilitator shared with us a variety of multi-functional practices, internal recognitions and mindful connections back to the self throughout his 2-day training on Trauma-Informed Practice. Teaching us that by successfully connecting with ourselves we can effectively connect back to the people we help.

On the first day of this 2-day training series, we explored Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivors, the following are 3 of my major learnings from the first day of this CAEH training opportunity:

 

Understanding Trauma

Trauma is a working definition. As stated in the training, trauma is “a socially constructed disintegration of our ability to connect with our physical, mental, interpersonal, and emotional world. A result of an adverse event or events that interrupt our ability to cope, at a neurobiological and interpersonal level.” For many, especially in cases of colonization, displacement or removal from family and tradition; trauma can be a shared experience of disconnection from self, while healing is the entity of re-connection.

“Trauma-informed care encourages support and treatment to the whole person, rather than focus on only treating individual symptoms or specific behaviors.”

 

The Power of Choice

During our training, we were presented with five principles of Trauma-Informed Practice (find in the CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care PowerPoint), with Choice, Collaboration, and Connection as one of them. This principle stood out to me as it informs front line staff that despite our best intentions, all processes should include a foundation of autonomy and personal control for those we assist.  Trauma-Informed Practice provides a collaborative approach to client services by integrating feedback and customization. As stated by Brian, by leveling power relationships and, “being transparent about areas where we can’t,” we can carefully create an environment of trust and respect.  

 

Limitations of TIP? Looking past TIP

While Trauma-Informed Practice and Care can provide a client with trust, control and safety, it has often been criticized for only treating half of the equation (the individual), while leaving out the broken systems, policies and practices that harbor environments of trauma in the first place. “There is a risk of focusing on the treatment of pathology (trauma), rather than fostering the possibility (well-being). Everyone wants to be happy not just have less misery.”

 

If the answer is in healing our collective environment and focusing less on trauma itself, then where do we move on from here?

 

A simple answer to this question would not give justice to our very unsimple reality. However, working toward new paradigms of society and healing can help. Brian’s final teachings of the day poked at the idea of collective change and surfaced the opportunity of Healing Centered Practice.

From this discussion, the quote, “being able to dream is recovery on its own,” stood out to me. For me, dreams signify hope and each of our birthrights to hope. These words offered me permission to envision my dream society as one where every single individual is given the opportunity to live each day thinking past their basic means of survival.

 

A society that can dream is a society I hope we can all one day be a part of.

 

Below is the video playlist from day-1 of Brian Dean Williams Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivor’s training session.

 

On February 8, 2019 I was lucky to be among about 30 colleagues in the work to end homelessness in Greater Victoria who spend the day with Brian Dean Williams learning about the brain, mindfulness, our selves, and how to best support each other. This was the second of a 2-day training Brian delivered in the community as part of the local CAEH Training series sponsored by the Government of Canada and coordinated by the CRD and the Coalition, with the assistance of a community steering committee.

As someone who has experience work-related burnout before, and who used mindfulness in my long recovery, I was excited to learn more. I’ve also, over the past few years, become wary of the terms “burnout” and “self-care,” as it seems they have become commodified, Instagram-able, and somewhat empty words. When Brian talked about moving our focus from “self-care” to “we care,” I knew I had found someone who was speaking to the kind of work that keeps us filled up and moving forward.

Most people who work in the social services sector do so because we genuinely care about other people. The less we feel able to make a real difference for the people we serve, and the less power we feel in our day-to-day jobs, the less satisfaction we feel in the work, and the more we edge towards emotional exhaustion.

When you throw in a big dose of trauma (which CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care talking about) – whether vicariously through client’s shared stories, or personally experienced in the course of life and work – it’s a wonder many of us last as long as we do in this sector. What Brian’s reframing of self-care allows is another avenue to satisfaction: taking care of each other as a way to take care of ourselves.

As you click through Brian’s Presentation and watch the video playlist (below), you’ll see there was much much more to the day than I’ve shared here. We shared in both sitting and walking mindfulness meditation. We talked about ways to bring mindfulness into our daily lives to keep from “flipping our lids.” And we got to know each other in the room as compassionate beings who can hear and share each other’s needs in a way that makes a difference.

And that, it seems, may be the ultimate self-care – listening to another in a way that makes a difference for them, and in so doing fulfilling our own need to contribute and co-creating a supportive, human, and humane work environment.

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), funded by the Government of Canada and in partnership with the Coalition and the CRD, is offering free training in Victoria from October 2018 through February 2019. Topics for training were identified through a survey of Coalition membership, and all community members interested in learning about ending homelessness in Greater Victoria are welcome to attend.

Each day will run from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, and will include breakfast, two snack breaks and lunch. Registration is required.

PAST SESSIONS

Harm Reduction in a Housing First Context

  • Friday, October 5 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Kale Hayes
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Presentation details coming soon

Housing First for Women

Housing First and Outreach

Housing First and Youth/LGBTQ2S Inclusion

Trauma-Informed Care and Burnout Prevention

Housing First in an Indigenous Context

  • Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Betty Edel.
  • Local Indigenous teachings and support by Respected Elder Shirley Alphonse, T’sou-ke Nation.
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Download the presentation:


The 2018 edition of Creating Homes: A Community Guide to Affordable and Supportive Housing Development is now available on our website.

This toolkit for navigating community concerns is a living document that will continue to be updated as new research and best practices emerge.

To provide feedback on the guide, please email our Community Development Manager.

The 2018 Greater Victoria Point in Time Count (PiT) is a count of people in the Captial Region experiencing homelessness. A Point in Time count provides important data for service planning and delivery in our region – it lets us know how much and what kind of services are needed. The more complete the PiT Count is, the better we can plan, resource and serve.

PiT Details

  • The PiT takes place across the Capital Region on Thursday March 15th, 2018 from 11:00 am to 11:59 pm.
  • The PiT includes
    • people in emergency shelters and transitional housing,
    • people who are sheltering out-of-doors (in tents, doorways, or vehicles),
    • people in public facilities (e.g., hospitals or correctional facilities) with no fixed address.
  • A broad range of community agencies and partners are working together on the count, including:
    • local municipalities and the Capital Regional District,
    • Island Health,
    • homelessness service providers,
    • local police services,
    • other housing and social service agencies, and
    • people who have experienced homelessness.
  • The PiT is funded by the Government of Canada through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and the same methodology is used across Canada.
  • The CRD has contracted the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) to coordinate the count.

Volunteer

More than 200 volunteers will be needed to successfully complete the count.

Volunteer applications are being coordinated by Volunteer Victoria. Volunteers sign up for one or more 3-hour shift and attend a two-hour training session in advance of the event.

Volunteers must be 19 years of age or older to participate.

To volunteer please complete an online application. If you have any questions about volunteering please contact Betty Leitch at betty@volunteervictoria.bc.ca or call 250.386.2269.

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