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Homelessness has jumped by 106 per cent in the Comox Valley

The homeless count increased from 132 individuals in 2020 to 272 in 2023
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A BC Housing report, published on Oct. 5, 2023, shows that the number of homeless in the Comox Valley jumped by 106 percent over the past three years. (File photo)

BC Housing has published (Oct. 5) the 2023 Point-in-Time report (PiT), providing a clear image of the ongoing homeless situation in the Comox Valley.

After a three-year hiatus since the last report, the figures are showing that the region’s homeless population jumped from 132 individuals in 2020 to 272 in 2023. That’s a 106 per cent increase.

The PiT defined a homeless person as someone who “did not have a place of their own where they paid rent and could expect to stay for at least 30 days.”

According to the report’s result, 65 per cent of those identified as homeless were ‘sheltered’ - namely residing in a detox facility, supportive housing, hospitals, etc. The remaining 35 per cent has been identified as ‘unsheltered’ - living outside, in a vehicle, or at someone else’s place.

The data shows that 92 percent of the respondents have lived in the region for more than a year, with two-thirds of them having resided here for over five years, including 45 respondents who were born and raised in the Valley.

The report determined that 59 per cent of the population are male, whereas 34 per cent are female.

Of the 272 members of the Valley’s unhoused community, 177 are adults (ranging from 25 to 54 years old), while 65 are seniors (55+), and 22 are less than 24 years old.

A little less than one-third of the respondents identified as Indigenous, making them disproportionately represented in this population when compared to the national census numbers of 7 per cent.

The report pinpointed four primary reasons for their housing loss, namely insufficient income (56 per cent), substance use problems (31 per cent), mental health challenges (27 per cent), and conflicts with a partner (17 per cent).

The Record has reached out to the Coalition to End Homelessness but has yet to hear back from the organization. More updates to come.

RELATED: Courtenay-Comox MLA discusses homelessness issue, barriers facing government

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Olivier Laurin

About the Author: Olivier Laurin

I’m a bilingual multimedia journalist from Montréal who began my journalistic journey on Vancouver Island with The Comox Valley Record in 2023.
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