Homelessness up 19% since ’05 - Metro US

Homelessness up 19% since ’05

There are almost 2,600 people living on the streets and in shelters in Greater Vancouver, according to the 2008 Homeless Count, which saw homelessness increase in every sub-region of the Lower Mainland.
“We need more affordable housing,” said Alice Sunberg, co-chair of the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.
“We need better income for people to be able to afford housing and we need programs that address the affordability issue in the private market.”
The 2008 Homeless Count tallied 2,592 homeless people, an increase of 19 per cent over the last count in 2005.
The number is made up of 1,547 street homeless, up 37 per cent from the 1,127 in 2005, and 1,045 sheltered homeless. The number of sheltered homeless remained virtually the same and reflects the number of shelter beds available in the region.
The numbers, however, are considered an underestimation of the true homeless population.
An additional 398 people on count day, a 24-hour period spanning March 10 and 11, were “perceived to be homeless,” but were not included in the official count because they were sleeping or refused to be interviewed.
As well, Sunberg said, the count does not take into account the number of so-called hidden homeless, like people who couch surf or live in overcrowded households.
“They’re not going to come forward and identify themselves,” Sunberg said. “There is an incredible amount of shame, for anybody, but in particular communities it is even more so.”
Consultant Margaret Eberle is leading a survey that hopes to put a number on the region’s hidden homeless.
The survey, based on one used to measure the hidden homeless in Los Angeles, will hit the streets this fall, with results released in spring 2009.

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