Homelessness is on the rise not just in Campbell River, but across the country. So says the city’s homelessness coalition coordinator as she points to data from a recent homelessness count.
But for CRDCEH’s Stefanie Hendrickson, what stuck out most for her from the April 2021 ‘Point-in-Time’ count was the number of people surveyed in town that identify as Indigenous.
According to Hendrickson, more than half of Campbell River’s homeless population identify as Indigenous, or, more specifically, 62 per cent of respondents.
Considering just 12 per cent of the city’s general population fit under this demographic as per 2016 census data, it’s a number Hendrickson calls “a huge overrepresentation.”
In fact, she says it’s a 16 per cent increase when looking at the previous homelessness count.
“Our last count was in 2018, and of the people surveyed in 2018, 46 per cent of respondents identified as Indigenous,” Hendrickson explains.
She continues, “That’s a number that I think really needs to be considered by the community, and different levels of government [should] come together to try and find solutions. That needs to be really treated as a unique and important problem to address.”
This year’s count, originally planned for 2020, was put on hold after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But earlier this spring, the local coalition finally got the go-ahead to roll out the count.
Starting the evening of April 8th and during the day on April 9th, outreach teams with the local coalition hit the streets, tallying the estimated number of people experiencing homelessness around town.
At the time, Hendrickson told My Campbell River Now that the count provides a snapshot of what the homelessness situation looks like in any given 24-hours. “It’s great numbers for us to have,” she said.
All in all, the 2021 count found that a total of 116 people were homeless living on the streets of Campbell River, an increase when compared to the 81 identified just three years prior.
As well, 69 per cent said they experienced homelessness for the first time as a kid, with 45 per cent previously in foster care, a group home, or under a youth agreement.
In terms of health concerns, just under 70 per cent of respondents said they suffer from addiction, with over half, or 63 per cent experiencing a mental health issue. Meanwhile, 32 per cent said they have a learning disability and just under 30 per cent said they have a physical disability.
A further look at this year’s ‘Point-in-Time’ data for Campbell River, as well as other B.C. communities can be found here.