Monday, February 4, 2008


An important new study has confirmed Opposition Critic for Homelessness, David Chudnovsky's, survey results regarding homelessness in BC. It shows the crisis could be three times as bad as BC Minister Responsible for Homelessness Rich Coleman claims.

Our survey counted “a minimum of 10,500 homeless people in BC.” We made it clear that this number was conservative and the reality was likely much worse. Coleman has claimed on several occasions that there are “between 4,500 and 5,500” homeless people in the province.

The report concludes between 8,000 and 15,500 are "absolutely homeless," meaning they are living on the streets, couch surfing or otherwise without shelter. The report says the authors confirmed their figures with "local stakeholders and key informants."

The authors are SFU's Michelle Patterson and Julian Somers, Calgary's Karen McIntosh and Alan Shiell, and UBC's Jim Frankish. The report was prepared at the request of the health ministry's mental health and addictions branch. Other partners and contributors to the report include the provincial health authorities, the Employment and Income Assistance Ministry and Coleman's own Forests and Range Ministry.

The report's number—which includes only people with severe addictions and mental illness -— far exceeds the figure used by Coleman. It does not include the thousands of homeless people in the province who have neither mental health nor addictions challenges.

The report also says that despite impressions that homelessness, mental illness and addiction are urban problems, interviews with front-line workers found the same problems were "highly prevalent in rural settings," again echoing the results of our survey.

For the full report see Housing and Support for Adults with Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in British Columbia.

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