Nelson homelessness report card issued

The rental vacancy rate in Nelson is zero per cent, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The rental vacancy rate for one and two bedroom suites in Nelson is zero per cent

One day last April, there were at least 116 homeless people in Nelson. At least 34 of those were without any temporary or emergency shelter.

We know this because the Nelson Committee on Homelessness (NCOH) conducted its Point-in-Time Homelessness Count that day.

Of 91 people who were formally surveyed or reported on at emergency shelters and in transitional housing during that day, 27 had no home at all, 13 were in emergency housing, 22 were in transitional housing, five were in hospital or in jail, and 17 were couch surfing.

The volunteers conducting the count found that just under half of homeless people were between the ages of 35 and 54, just over half had been homeless for more than six months, and that 66 per cent had lived in Nelson for more than a year.

They found that 29 people had been hospitalized a total of 75 times between them in the past year, and that 24 people reported they first became homeless when they were under 20.

Those and many more statistics from the homeless count are incorporated into the 18th Annual Report Card on Homelessness for Nelson, published this week.

The most important statistics in the report, according to Ann Harvey, Community Coordinator for NCOH, are about the cost of living. Since 2007, the BC Consumer Price Index for food has gone up 26 per cent, electricity 48 per cent, and advertised rental rates for one-bedroom housing 29 per cent. During the same period, the report states, income assistance for a single person has not increased, while disability assistance has gone up three per cent.

The report contains a number of other statistics including:

Twenty-four per cent of Nelsonites make less than $15,000 per year, and 47 per cent pay more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

The rental vacancy rate in Nelson as of October, 2015, is zero per cent for one and two bedroom units, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Advertised rental rates for one-bedroom units increased by 12 per cent over the past year, and by 21 per cent since 2011.

Low vacancy rates and high rents contribute to homelessness being a cyclical phenomenon, Harvey says.

“The statistics and statements we gathered show people cycling through very unstable housing situations and back into homelessness, either because they can’t afford to make the rent, house-sharing or family relations break down, or jobs are lost for health reasons.”

Use of food banks was up by 7.5 per cent, with seniors making up 13 per cent of Food Cupboard recipients and children making up 28 per cent of Salvation Army food bank recipients.

“Looking at these statistics and seeing the degree to which poor health, lack of adequate income and lack of affordable housing show up in the homelessness profiles of people surveyed, you have to think something is wrong with this picture,” Harvey said.

Among the people surveyed in the homelessness count, the most common reasons for housing loss were financial reasons (job loss, unable to pay rent, rents too high, 38 per cent), health reasons (29 per cent), and evictions (26 per cent).

The services they said they need most are for mental illness (45 per cent), addictions (38 per cent), medical conditions (36 per cent), and learning disabilities (25 per cent) primarily because rents could not be met.

The full report can be found at www.nelsoncares.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Value of new construction in Nelson jumped in 2019

Several large multi-unit projects made the difference

UPDATED: Lead found in Nelson, Creston and Salmo schools

Fourteen water fountains tested for higher than accepted lead content

UPDATED: Man dies in backcountry near Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Small, Little to represent Kootenays at mixed curling provincials

The pair won the regional playdowns last weekend in Trail

Nelson asks RDCK for clarity on recycling costs

City paid $216,217 to collect rural neighbours’ recycling in 2019, wants to see the math

VIDEO: The Library Rock(s)

Friends and fans of the Nelson library packed the Capitol Theatre Friday to celebrate 100 years

Gene Simmons to launch new Titans of Rock music festival in Grand Forks

The rock legend has partnered with Chuck Varabioff to run Titans of Rock in Grand Forks

VIDEO: 17 Husky pups rescued from Interior B.C. property find new homes

The BC SPCA caught the moment on video the last puppy, Uki, met his owners

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

VIDEO: B.C. mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

Most Read