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Homeless Count volunteer

Homeless Count results show a slowing in the growth of homelessness in Vancouver over the last two years

While this year’s Homeless Count results show that the bold actions being taken by the City and its partners might be beginning to turn the tide on the growth of homelessness in Vancouver, there are still more than 2,000 people without a home in our city.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart

June 12 2019 –

A presentation to Vancouver City Council today showed that actions taken by the City and its partners are making an impact on the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver. The preliminary results from the City of Vancouver Homeless Count indicate a 2% increase in individuals experiencing homelessness. This represents a slowing of the growth of homelessness in the city over the last two years.

Key results

However, homelessness is still at its highest level in Vancouver since the Count began in 2002. This year’s Count results are an indication that the housing affordability crisis and income inequality continue to have the most significant impact on those with the lowest incomes. Key results showed that:

  • 2,223 people were identified as experiencing homelessness. The majority, 72% (1,609), were sheltered and 28% (614) were unsheltered
  • The slight decrease in the number of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness shows the City and partners are doing a better job of creating space for people to come indoors
  • 27% reported being homeless for less than 6 months showing how easily individuals can fall into homelessness in a City facing an affordability crisis. Over time, the proportion of respondents who said they were homeless for more than one year is growing (56% in 2019) highlighting the challenges individuals face securing housing.
  • 81% of survey respondents were already living in Vancouver when they became homeless
  • 39% of survey respondents identified as Indigenous and Indigenous people continue to be vastly overrepresented in the homelessness count in Vancouver compared to the overall population (2.2% in the 2016 Census)

“While this year’s Homeless Count results show that the bold actions being taken by the City and its partners might be beginning to turn the tide on the growth of homelessness in Vancouver, there are still more than 2,000 people without a home in our city. This is unacceptable,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “We've seen the Province come to the table with unprecedented investments, but the Federal Government's pledge to cut homelessness in half hasn't yet come with money on the ground and that's the real missing piece.” 

The City is optimistic that we can continue to improve our ability to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness to make homelessness rare, brief, and one time. This will require continued and increasing commitment from and collaboration with senior levels of government and creative approaches to addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, including the housing affordability crisis, lack of sufficient incomes, and service gaps that result in people having no place to turn but the homelessness services sector.   

Key actions

To continue efforts to address these causes and help to end homelessness, Staff presented the following key actions to Council today:

  • Using data to inform decision making, providing a better understanding of the nature of homelessness, helping to drive policies and initiatives to address homelessness
  • Taking a more holistic, systems-based approach to ending homelessness with regional initiatives such as Home Front which aims to make homelessness rare, brief, and one time
  • Driving leadership at the municipal level through new models and approaches to homelessness, such as warming centres, the establishment of low-barrier homelessness services like temporary winter shelters, and the STEP pilot  (Supporting Tenants, Enabling Pathways)

Homelessness Action Week

As part of Homelessness Action Week, which takes place every October to raise public awareness of homelessness and rally local solutions, Council also approved 14 Homelessness Services grants. Read more in the report (168 KB)

Read the full preliminary results of the Homeless Count in the Council presentation (9 MB)

Read today’s Council report (169 KB)