Half as many people are sleeping on Vancouver’s streets this year compared to 2008, but the number of homeless has risen, according to early results from the city’s homeless count.
Counters found 428 people sleeping on the streets on March 23, compared to more than 800 at the same time two years ago.
The number of people using shelters has gone up, though, to more than 1,300 from 800.
Coun. Kerry Jang credits the drop in street homelessness to the city’s seven temporary shelters, which are set to shut down on April 30 and which Jang said need to remain open.
He said they offer more than just a warm place to sleep — they provide safety, food and important contact with outreach workers. They are credited with reducing street disorder, crime and visible drug use.
“The overall homeless numbers are up because Vancouver is a very expensive place to live … and the housing allowance isn’t enough to keep up with inflation.”
Jang said the government needs to make good on its promises to build interim and social housing immediately.