The Comox Valley will participate in a co-ordinated effort to measure the community’s level homelessness on Tuesday, March 14.
The Coalition to End Homelessness, in association with local agencies, volunteers and provincial partners, will conduct a Point-in-Time (PiT) Homeless Count. This will be the fourth count in the Comox Valley.
Over 24 hours, front-line staff, outreach workers and volunteers will count and survey individuals at shelters, outside, inside their vehicles and those living precariously throughout the community. The count includes anyone without stable housing and who is not paying rent. During a count, a community’s baseline information on the estimated number, key demographics, and service provision needs of people experiencing homelessness are assessed.
It is important to remember that the count will indicate the minimum number of people experiencing homelessness, a Coalition to End Homelessness news release states. Other forms of homelessness, such as residents at the Travelodge and the Junction, will not be counted.
The count will improve our understanding of the needs and circumstances of homeless people in our community and collectively across B.C. The survey will provide key data on gender identity, age, ethnicity and veteran status in each participating community.
Results will be made publicly available. The coalition will use results to improve its response to homelessness and to advocate for the communities’ needs provincially and federally.
“In 2020, the count surveyed 132 people experiencing homelessness in the Comox Valley,” said coalition co-ordinator Angela Fletcher, who is also co-ordinating the PiT Count. “Now, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the Comox Valley is expected to be between 200 and 300 people. This difference is significant. As advocates for housing and housing support, it is important that we understand not just the extent of homelessness but who is experiencing homelessness. This Point-in-Time Count will help our coalition to plan effectively and improve our response to those in need.”
One of the changes to this year’s count is the co-ordinated involvement of people with lived experiences of homelessness, who will be hired to assist in mapping and street surveys, and at locations offering services to unsheltered community members.
“I am beyond happy to have support from our unhoused community members as it will improve the count and increase the willingness of people to participate,” Fletcher said. “In previous years, unknown volunteers would request to survey individuals and offer an icebreaker to encourage conversation. Although there are elements of beauty in this, it makes sense to include people that are known and relatable.”
If you would like to be counted March 14, please find a surveyor at Connect or the Courtenay library. Or call (250) 218-3752 to complete a survey over the phone. All surveys are confidential and voluntary.