Preliminary Enumeration and Homeless Needs Survey Results

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2007

Victoria – The Homeless Needs Survey, which was held from February 5-9, has identified 1,115 persons in the Capital Region who were homeless or unstably housed. [Note: Later revised upwards to 1,242 .]

An enumeration was conducted though a count in facilities which provide shelter to people who are homeless on Monday, February 5. The survey was conducted throughout the Capital Region from February 6-9, 2007, with questionnaires about housing needs completed by persons who were homeless or living in unstable housing. The questionnaire was conducted by over 200 volunteers indoors at over 40 social service provider locations and outdoors using the Salvation Army’s Beacon Bus.

“The Homeless Needs Survey will provide detailed and helpful information to over 60 participating service providers in the Capital Region,” said Kathy Stinson, the Executive Director of Cool Aid. “As well, the full research results will be shared with all levels of government and other community partners to help us better meet the needs of individuals and families who are inadequately housed in Greater Victoria.”

“The purpose of the survey was to gain a deeper understanding of what people who are homeless or unstably housed feel they need to find and maintain housing,” said Researcher Jane Worton of the Community Council. “We are grateful to the 815 people who completed questionnaires. They have shared personal information with us in order to help us provide better supports for the thousands of inadequately housed people in our community. We now have a wealth of good data to build action upon.”

The following table summarizes the enumeration and survey results:

Adults
Youth
(16-25)
Children (<16) Total
Male Female Transgender
Homeless 480 142 2 73 46 743
Unstable Housing 172 133 3 43 21 372
Total 652 275 5 116 67 1,115

“According to 2001 census data, 22,205 households in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area were inadequately housed,” said Jane Worton. “We were able to interview 372 individuals in this situation – and this will provide the most detailed data ever about this large group in our communities.”

Making up just 2.8% of the local population, Aboriginal people, including First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Native, comprised 25% of those interviewed.

Only 11% of those interviewed were from outside BC, with the vast majority being from the Capital Regional District (73%) and elsewhere in BC (16%), often as close as Duncan and Vancouver.

The Homeless Needs Survey found people were homeless or unstably housed in all parts of the Capital Region. Although just a sample of the total number of people who are inadequately housed, the geographic distribution of interviewed individuals follows:

  • 73% in the four core municipalities including –
    • 496 people from Victoria (61%)
    • 48 people from Saanich (6%)
    • 24 people from Esquimalt (3%)
    • 6 people from Oak Bay (1%)
    • 22 people from an unspecified core municipality (3%)
  • 4% in the Western Communities (33 people)
  • 3% on the Saanich Peninsula (22 people)
  • 4% on Salt Spring Island (32 people)
  • 16% did not provide their municipality (132 people)

Rural and outlying communities were particularly under-represented due to the few number of survey locations and because social service providers in more sparsely populated regions often do not see their clients as frequently as those in the more urban areas.

Homeless counts frequently note underreporting of families who are homeless. The information from the Homeless Needs Survey will be complemented by the rich information gathered through the Burnside Gorge Community Association’s recent Homeless Families Outreach Project, using interviews with 432 families who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

A more detailed demographics report is enclosed. The full research report for the Homeless Needs Survey will be released in late March or April after a full analysis can be completed.

The Government of Canada has contributed funding to this initiative. For more information visit www.Coolaid.org.

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Information:    www.Coolaid.org

Kathy Stinson, Executive Director, Victoria Cool Aid Society
or Don McTavish, Manager of Shelters
(250) 383-1977

Jane Worton, Researcher, Community Council
(250) 383-6166


Survey Questionnaire

The Questionnaire completed by homeless and unstably housed persons from February 6-9, 2007 is available online as a Word document.


2007 Homeless Needs Survey Initial Demographics Report

The purpose of the Homeless Needs Survey was to gain a deeper understanding of what people who are homeless or unstably housed feel they need to find and maintain housing.
As well as providing this needed information, the Homeless Needs Survey included an enumeration of people who are homeless.

Enumeration process

On Monday February 5, facilities which provide shelter to people who are homeless (i.e. shelters, transition houses, jails) counted their residents. This was added to the number of people who came forward for interviews, identified as homeless and self reported not staying in a shelter facility Monday night.

Through the Homeless Needs Survey enumeration and interviews, 1,115 people who were homeless or unstably housed were identified, including 116 youth and 67 children.

Table 1: Homeless and Unstably Housed People Identified through Homeless Needs Survey

Adults
Youth
(16-25)
Children (<16) Total
Male Female Transgender
Homeless 480 142 2 73 46 743
Unstable Housing 172 133 3 43 21 372
Total 652 275 5 116 67 1,115

Table 2: How Homeless and Unstably Housed People were reached through Homeless Needs Survey

Adults
Youth
(16-25)
Children (<16) Total
Male Female Transgender
Enumeration 337 107 n/a 48 64 556
Interviews with homeless and unstably housed (exluding people enumerated) 315 168 5 68 3 559
Total 652 275 5 116 67 1,115

* Please note that while enumeration data from facilities did not record anyone who was transgendered, 5 people reported they stayed in a facility which was enumerated and they were transgendered.

Homeless

There are at least 743 people who are homeless in BC’s Capital Region. We know this is an undercount, as all homeless counts are. People have the right to choose not to be counted, and many people exercise that right. In both 2005 and 2007, some people either hid from the volunteers looking for homeless people or did not come forward to be interviewed.

Unstable housing

The 372 people who came forward to be interviewed and identified as being in unstable housing is a good sample of the population of people in this housing situation in our region, but is not intended to be a count.

In 2001 there were 22,205 households in core housing need in BC’s Capital Region. Similar to the definition of unstable housing, a household is identified as being in core housing need if they cannot find somewhere to live that is reasonably good condition and big enough for the household without spending more than 30% of their income on shelter .

Overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in homeless and unstably housed populations

25% of people who were homeless or unstably housed identified as First Nations, Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit or Native. This is 10 times larger than the percent of Aboriginal people in the overall population. The 2001 Statistics Canada Census reported 2.8% of the population in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area identified as Aboriginal.

Home grown homeless

A common myth about people who are homeless or unstably housed in our community is that most of these people came from outside of this region. The 2007 Homeless Needs Survey has provided further data to show this is not true. 73% of people who answered the question about what municipality they lived in when they were last stably housed reported living somewhere in the Capital Regional District. A further 16% reported living somewhere in BC, often only as far away as Duncan or Vancouver. Only 11% of people were from outside of BC.

People are homeless and unstably housed throughout BC’s Capital Region

Most participants (73%, 596 people) in the Homeless Needs Survey reported usually sleeping in one of the four core municipalities (Victoria 61%, 496 people; Saanich 6%, 48 people; Esquimalt 3%, 24 people; or Oak Bay 1%, 6 people). This was the first time the Homeless Needs Survey counted people in the Western Communities (4%, 33 people), the Peninsula (3%, 22 people) and on Saltspring Island (4%, 32 people). 132 people either did not know or did not answer the question about which municipality they usually slept in. The numbers for people sheltering outside of the core municipalities should be interpreted with additional caution. The lower numbers may reflect the smaller number of access points in these areas, different ways people in more rural areas access services, and communication of the Homeless Needs Survey overall outside of the core.

Underrepresentation of homeless and unstably housed families

Working closely with the Burnside Gorge Community Association, the Homeless Needs Survey identified a small number of families who were unstably housed or homeless at the time of the Homeless Needs Survey. It is particularly hard to capture a snapshot of homeless families when families experience homelessness in a fluid process; most families spend the duration of their homeless period in some combination of shelter arrangements, including transition houses, motels, family/friends, and on the street.

Identifying families experiencing homelessness is also more difficult as Burnside Gorge is the only local agency which provides outreach services specifically to families around housing issues. Where families who are homeless are accessing other services they are extremely unlikely to identify as homeless. Homeless counts frequently note underreporting of families who are homeless. The information from the Homeless Needs Survey will be complemented by the rich information gathered through the Burnside Gorge Community Association recent Homeless Families Outreach Project, using interviews with 432 families who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

For more information

The full research report for the Homeless Needs Survey will be released in late March or April after a full analysis can be completed.

For questions about the above data, please contact Jane Worton, Researcher, Community Council at 383-6166 or Kathy Stinson, Executive Director, Victoria Cool Aid Society at 383-1977.