Friday, December 21, 2007

BC Homelessness Count

Over the last few weeks we have received feedback about our homelessness count. Some have been from communities who didn't originally have numbers and some from communities which have revised numbers. Below you will numbers for three communities. In the spring we will fully update the count and until then any new numbers that are brought to our attention will be posted on this blog.

100 Mile House-35 homeless, Source CMHA BC study
Lillooet-35 homeless, Source CMHA BC study
Campbell River-1,200 Source Sian Thomson Island Jade Society

Friday, December 7, 2007

Day 3-Courtenay

Our final day in Courtenay was spent on the street meeting and visiting with people who are homeless. It was an emotional and educational experience.

“I slept in a cardboard box with cardboard over me because I was cold. They don’t care.
Please, please, help us — we can’t take it no more — it’s killing us, literally.” Ruby Blair, Courenay, BC

When asked what the hardest part of being homeless is Gerry Mag paused and then said,

“The toughest part is tomorrow. You never know what’s going to go on tomorrow.”

It was an enlightening yet humbling end to the Vancouver Island portion of our consultion.

Day 3-Courtenay

8:00-10:30-Touring of homeless sites

Meeting with Aboriginal Leaders and stakeholders

Wachiay Friendship centre
Elders Lunch

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Day 2 Courtenay-Finding Our Way Home

Today we met with representatives of the regional districts and a number of service providers. Shawn Wilson from the Salvation Army highlighted the issue of the Washington Inn, which is a building with 111 units of affordable housing. Everyone else we spoke with also flagged this issue for us. Residents and service providers understand that the buildng is for sale and it is possible that these critically important apartments may disappear. We met with the owner who says that she would prefer that the government purchase the building so that the low rent units will be preserved. We are continuing to look into this issue as this could be the breaking point for an already serious problem of homelessness in the area. We will report developments in future posts.

Comox Strathcona Regional District Representatives
Meet with Vancouver Island Health Authority Addictions and Mental Health Workers

Salvation Army
Walking tour of Sally Ann and Washington Inn with Shawn Wilson

Tour of Lilli house Transitional House

Meeting with chair of Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society Chair of Dawn to Dusk and L’Arche (developmental disabilities)

Cirlce discussion with Courtenay Women’s Centre

Monday, December 3, 2007

Finding Our Way Home: 7/10 Club

Finding Our Way Home: New Hope Center

Excerpt of our first day at the New Hope Center in Nanaimo where Ray Philip talks to David about his hopes and fears.

Day 1 Nanaimo-Finding Our Way Home

Today in Nanaimo we met with people who are homeless, service providers and local government officials. Everybody agreed that the homelessness crisis in Nanaimo has gotten significantly worse over the last five years. Unanimously, people agreed that the most urgent need is for more affordable housing units. They reminded us that the crisis isn't only a Vancouver problem but affects the smaller centres as well. In fact as things get more difficult in Vancouver many people end up in Nanaimo and many of those become homeless. We heard a number of practical suggestions for improvement that will be part of David's report in the spring.

The most moving moments of the day came when we spoke with those who are actually homeless. Here we learned of the day to day hardships and challenges those who do not have a home face. We met a young couple in the Salvation Army who rented two rooms earlier this week only to find that their landlord took their money, left town and put their belongings on the sidewalk where many of them were stolen. Now they have no money, almost no clothes and are left with no where to live. This is not an isolated case. Tomorrow we travel to Courtenay.

Nanaimo Schedule

December 3rd

7:30 am
7/10 Club
at 285 Prideau Street,
Community Service Building Early morning breakfast Program

walk to Samaritan House chatting with some of those on the street

Samaritan House
Tour of Samaritan House

Salvation Army 19 nichol street
Lunch program with Ed Robertson of New Hope Center (part of Sally Ann)

Lunch and tour with Jim Spinelli-
Chair, BCNPHA / Executive Director, Nanaimo Affordable Housing
The Nanaimo Women's Centre
Tour and Meeting

2-3 pm
Salvation Army/New Hope Center
19 Nicol Street
Meet with staff to talk about needs of clients

Nanaimo City Hall
455 Wallace Street
Meeting with mayor and council

Thursday, November 29, 2007


A survey conducted by Opposition Critic for Homelessness, David Chudnovsky, shows that there are a minimum of 10,580 homeless people in BC. Front line workers across the province, in more than 60 municipalities reported on their local situations.

Chudnovsky wrote to the Minister Responsible for Homelessness, Rich Coleman asking for government figures on homelessness. When no response was received Chudnovsky’s office took on the task of contacting cities and municipalities across the province.

What follows are the results of the survey:

City- Homeless Count*
Abbotsford- 400
Armstrong- 0
Burnaby- 180
Campbell River- 35
Castlegar/Trail- 10
Chetwynd- 30
Comox Valley- 200
Cowichan Valley (Duncan)- 200
Cranbrook- 50
Dawson Creek- 100
Delta** -11
Fernie- 20
Fort Saint James -125
Fort Saint John -100
Fraser Valley ( Hope, Chilliwack, Mission)- 184
Grand Forks -30
Hazelton- 0
Kamloops- 300
Kelowna- 279
Kitimat- 0
Langley- 100
Lillooet- 20
Lower Sunshine Coast- 200
Mackenzie- 0
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows- 80
Merritt/Princeton- 30
Nanaimo- 225
Nelson- 250
New Westminster**- 92
North Shore- 200
Oliver- 100
Osoyoos- 20
Parksville/Qualicum- 10
Penticton- 130
Port Alberni- 112
Port Hardy and Port Mcneil- 75
Powell River- N/A
Prince George- 1050
Prince Rupert- 80
Queen Charlotte Islands- 50
Quesnel- 40
Richmond**- 33
Salmon Arm/Sicamous/Enderby- 100
Saltspring- 23
Smithers- 50
Squamish and surrounding area- 200
Summerland- N/A
Surrey**- 371
Terrace- 35
Tri Cities- 200
Vancouver- 2300
Vanderhoof- N/A
Vernon- 150
Victoria- 1550
Whistler and surrounding area- 200
Williams Lake- 130
100 Mile House- 0
TOTAL 10580

*Except when otherwise noted, these numbers are estimates provided by front line workers who deal with homelessness in each community on a daily basis. In many cases, they have given assurances that the numbers are minimum estimates.
**The numbers for these metro Vancouver municipalities are taken from the outdated 2005 count. In all other metro municipalities the number of homeless since that time has increased by a minimum of 78%. If we were to project that minimum increase on these 4 municipalities, it would increase the total by 891.
For detailed survey results please visit

FROM PROFESSOR JAMES FRANKISH: Senior Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

November 29 2007

Mr. David Chudnovsky, MLA
Vancouver Kensington

Dear Mr. Chudnovsky

Re: Homelessness in Fifty-Three British Columbia Cities and Towns

I am writing to thank you for the opportunity to look at the data that you have compiled on homelessness in BC. First, I want to thank for your work. To my knowledge, a similar compilation has not been done.

I want to share my observations on the data. My perspective is that of a researcher engaged in research on homelessness and health. I have projects looking at urban-rural migration in homeless persons, and social perceptions of homelessness. I also have a grant to evaluate implementation of the Inner-City Commitments made in relation to the 2010 Games. Lastly, I am a volunteer board member of Lookout – one of the largest shelter providers in the Lower Mainland.

Second, I found it very helpful that you included the source(s) of the data and the population of the 53 towns and cities. I understand that you drew the data from existing documents, non-profit community organizations, and the self-report of service providers. While some may cast your approach as ‘unscientific’, I think the approach is fair and reasonable. The available literature and practical experience (from a number of jurisdictions) also suggests that such counts are typically an under-estimation of the ‘true’ number(s) of absolute and hidden homeless persons. Any way you count them, 10,580 people are significant. There is no acceptable level of homelessness and such statistics are “stories with the tears wiped off”.

I found the data to be both interesting and disturbing. The numbers clearly make the point that the level of homelessness across BC is too high. They affirm the reality that homeless affects us all from 100 Mile House to Zeballos. Finally, they highlight the need to re-double the efforts of all constituencies – government, opposition and the citizens of BC. Thank you again for sharing this data. I remain eager to work with all parties to eradicate homelessness in BC.

Best regards
Dr. C. James Frankish
Senior Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Director, Centre for Population Health Promotion Research
Professor, College for Interdisciplinary Studies & Health Care & Epidemiology


FINDING OUR WAY HOME is a response to the Homelessness Crisis. David is touring the province to hear from people who are homeless about their experiences, their challenges and obstacles and their hopes and suggestions for a better future.

Consultation Schedule:

Monday December 3rd-Nanaimo
Tuesday and Wednesday December 4&5th-Courtenay, Comox & Regional Districts

For full schedule details please refer to this blog daily.


VANCOUVER – More than 10,000 British Columbians are now homeless, according to conservative estimates compiled by the New Democrats.

"This is shocking in a province so prosperous," said NDP leader Carole James today at the launch of a the New Democrat consultation on the homelessness crisis.

"The number of people who are homeless in B.C. is completely unacceptable," said NDP Homelessness Critic and MLA David Chudnovsky. "Vulnerable people are being left behind and ignored by an uncaring Campbell government."

The Campbell Government has so far refused to release any figures for the homeless population in the province. Chudnovsky requested the data almost six weeks ago. The survey released today by Chudnovsky is a conservative number provided by frontline workers in communities around British Columbia.

Finding Our Way Home: A Consultation on The Homelessness Crisis in B.C. is a response to the current crisis. Chudnovsky will be speaking with people who are homeless in communities in every corner of BC in the coming weeks, and will report on his findings.

"I will be travelling the province to hear from people who are homeless about their experiences, their challenges and obstacles and their hopes and suggestions for a better future," said Chudnovsky.

"I will meet with front line workers who provide services to the homeless. I will consult with local government officials."

The consultation begins on Monday, December 3 in Nanaimo and continues on Tuesday, December 4 and Wednesday, December 5 in Courtenay-Comox.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Campbell’s "Major" Housing Announcement an Embarrassment that won't Build a Single Affordable Unit (October 12th, 2007)

Vancouver – Today's housing announcement was a major letdown for people looking for immediate action on the housing emergency that Gordon Campbell has created, says New Democrat MLA David Chudnovsky.

“Gordon Campbell created a crisis when he eliminated funding for social housing,” said NDP Homelessness Critic David Chudnovsky. “When Gordon Campbell promoted today's event as a 'major' announcement, everyone expected he would be providing thousands of new units of affordable housing. Instead, today’s announcement failed to add a single new unit. "

"This is an embarrassment for Gordon Campbell and a huge disappointment for the thousands of people who badly need affordable housing."

Chudnovsky pointed out that the Olympic Inner-city Inclusive Housing Table -- comprised of representatives of government, business and the social service community -- says that 3,200 new units of social housing are required in Vancouver by 2010.

"Today's announcement didn't provide a single one of those badly needed units," Chudnovsky said.

“The Campbell Government named the provincial budget of 2007 the Housing Budget,” continued Chudnovsky, “If I were the Premier, I would be embarrassed to call this a major announcement.”

“At the rate of zero new units per year the Gordon Campbell method of repairing the housing gap he created will mean homelessness will remain in a crisis for Vancouver in 2010.”