Thursday, November 29, 2007

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

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