5 People Are Going Homeless Per Week In Metro Vancouver

5 People Are Going Homeless Per Week In Metro Vancouver

Rising real estate prices in Metro Vancouver has made some homeowners millionaires overnight. Unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone. Increasing real estate prices are putting more pressure on low income families in the region, that were already struggling with bills. Vancouver’s affordability issues have turned into a crisis, and the city is finding itself with a massive backlog of families that need affordable housing.

The Crisis

The number of homeless people in Vancouver is pretty much the only thing outpacing real estate prices. According to a report from Metro Vancouver, from 2011 to 2016 the number of unsheltered homeless people has increased by 26% annually since 2011, and 9% annually since 2002. The result is over 4,000 people in need of immediate housing, and 5 people get added to that number every week. The issue has become such a problem that the Metro region now has 80 “homeless camps.”

Homeless People Cost Metro Vancouver $55k/Person

Still don’t care? Maybe if we break it down for you in a financial way you might. Metro Vancouver estimates that the demands of homeless people cost around $55,000 in local and regional resources per person (i.e. emergency services and social care). This tallies up to $200 million by their count. Sheltering people (community housing and emergency homeless shelters) by contrast costs $37,000, which could mean $136 million could be saved. Think of that next time you pay your taxes.

Social Housing Waitlist

Surprise! A large part of this has to do with the affordable housing problem in the Greater Vancouver Region (GVR). Existing shelters are currently at a 97% capacity, and the region only has 19,047 social housing units. At the end of 2016, the waitlist for social housing stood at 10,496 people – an increase of 21.9% over 5 years. To contrast that, the population of Metro Vancouver grew by 6.5%. This means the rate of people in Vancouver without affordable housing is growing faster than the general population.

Vancouver Social Housing Waitlist

Judging by the acceleration of this trend and the BC government’s commitment to only build 2,900 units in the whole province, this issue is only going to get worse.

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Photo via Kenny McDonald.