Now that the weather has turned wet and colder here on the west coast, perhaps election campaign '08 could start to talk about something pressing.
Metro Vancouver 2008 Homeless Count results were released last week:
The combined results of the enumeration showed that on March 11, 2008, there were 2,660 homeless people in the Metro Vancouver region. This does not include 402 people who were “perceived” to be homeless but not included in the total count because they either refused to be interviewed for the purposes of the enumeration, or were asleep and couldn’t be woken up.
Growing homelessness across Metro Vancouver: –– There has been a significant growth in the number of homeless people in Metro Vancouver since the last count in 2005. While the number of homeless people in the region as a whole grew by 22% (2,174 to 2,660) from the 2005 count, some suburban municipalities saw 100% or more growth.
Street homelessness increased significantly: –– The number of homeless people who went without shelter on the night of the count increased by almost 450 people from 2005. In percentage terms, the share of the street homeless rose from 52% in 2005 to 59% or 1,574 individuals in 2008. In addition, three out of four of those enumerated slept in locations that are not considered fit for human habitation, such as on the street, in public buildings, in parks, in cars, and in other public spaces.
The volunteer work I do brings me into contact with the homeless or soon to be homeless on a regular basis. From experience I know there are many more who are just one foot out the door away from joining those already in the wet and cold. Many who aren't officially "homeless" are today living in places that truly are not fit for human habitation. It isn't pretty Vancouver - we have slums and slumlords.
To respond meaningfully to this issue there is a real need for a diversity of voices and talents at city hall. I for one would have liked to have seen the former director of Pivot Legal Society, David Eby, selected as a Vision Vancouver candidate for council. As it stands pending a recount, Eby missed the opportunity by 17 votes at yesterday's well-attended nomination election.