Health and Housing Affordability Top Issues for People Experiencing Homelessness
December 15, 2023
The final 2023 FVRD Homeless Point-in-Time (PiT) Count and Survey report is now available. The report includes an analysis of the enumeration and surveying of individuals experiencing homelessness in the Region over a 24-hour period on March 7-8, 2023.
The regional report includes sub-community results for Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and the Eastern Fraser Valley (Hope, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, and Boston Bar).
“Since 2014, there has been an increase in number of people experiencing homelessness throughout the Region,” said Jason Lum, FVRD Chair. “The findings in the report emphasize the need for additional supports from other orders of government for housing and health in our Region. Despite significant efforts by local government and our partners, these numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction,” he said.
In 2023, the FVRD’s PiT Count identified 1,094 people experiencing homelessness, which is a 22% increase compared to the previous count in 2020, with the greatest increases within the sub-communities of Chilliwack and the Eastern Fraser Valley.
In the FVRD, populations experiencing homelessness continue to increase at greater rates than the number of available shelter beds. With 602 available shelter beds in the Region, shelters could only accommodate up to 55% of those experiencing homelessness on the night of the count. Since PiT Count figures are an undercount of populations experiencing homelessness, the gap between available shelter spaces and the need for shelter is likely much greater.
People of all ages experience homelessness. However, the number of people over the age of sixty has increased. Indigenous people and individuals who were in government care as children or youth continue to be overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness. Survey results identified increased rates of physical and mental health issues, including addiction, which, for many survey respondents, had contributed to their most recent housing loss.
Most survey respondents had lived in the Region or their community for many years and reported longer periods of being without housing. In 2023, 85% had lived in the Region for more than one year, while 73% reported experiencing homelessness for one year or longer. The most common barrier to housing was the lack of affordable housing, followed by insufficient income, and challenges associated with stigma and prejudice; while transportation issues were the top barrier to accessing services.
- Final report follows preliminary figures released in July.
- PiT Count and Survey administered throughout the Region over a 24-hour period on March 7-8, 2023.
- The 2023 FVRD Homeless PiT Count and Survey relied on the involvement, time, and expertise of staff from more than 50 organizations, community partners, and 1,022 voluntary survey respondents who generously contributed their perspectives and personal stories.
- The regional report includes sub-community results for Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and the Eastern Fraser Valley (Hope, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, and Boston Bar).
- The report includes enumeration figures based on shelter usage and survey data collected on the night of the count; the bulk of the report and much of the importance of this work comes from the experiences and perspectives of those experiencing homelessness, as outlined in the survey findings.
- PiT figures (individuals experiencing homelessness) continue to increase at greater rates than shelter spaces.
- Since 2014, enumeration of those experiencing homelessness in the Region has been on an upward trend.
- 1,094 people identified as experiencing homelessness in the Region, a 22% increase compared to the previous count in 2020, with the largest increase per sub-community being 25% in Chilliwack and 28% the Eastern Fraser Valley
- 1,022 also participated in the voluntary survey administered by the service agency and outreach staff.
- Half of the populations enumerated experienced unsheltered forms of accommodation on the night of the count.
- Survey results indicate increased rates of physical and mental health issues, and the experience of addiction.
- People of all ages experience homelessness; however, the number of people over the age of sixty has increased.
- Health issues were the top cause of housing loss, followed by housing, financial issues, and inter-personal and family issues.
- Overrepresentation of Indigenous people, as well as people who were in government care as children or youth.
- 38% of survey respondents identified as Indigenous compared to 7.6% of the general population.
- 31% had been in government care as children or youth.
- People experiencing homelessness are without housing for longer periods.
- 73% had been experiencing homelessness for one year or longer, compared to 56% in 2020, and 50% in 2017.
- 40% of respondents had been experiencing homelessness for over two years.
- Most people had lived in Region or their community for a considerable amount of time.
- 85% had lived in the Region for more than one year, while 46% had lived in the Region for 10 or more years.
- Transportation issues were identified as a top barrier to accessing services.
- The most common barrier to housing was the lack of affordable housing, followed by insufficient income, and stigma and prejudice.
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