The annual report on Nelson’s homeless as well as the results from April’s point-in-time count were released Tuesday. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: Report shows plenty of homeless youth on Nelson’s streets

A point-in-time count conducted in April found 32 per cent of respondents were younger than 24

An annual report shows Nelson’s homeless population is young and has few local options for housing.

The 10th annual Report Card on Homelessness as well as the results of a point-in-time count were released Tuesday. The findings reveal many of the city’s homeless are barely old enough to vote. The complete report is attached to the bottom of this story.

On April 10 and 11, 65 volunteers approached and tallied 725 people in Nelson who were either observed, screened or then surveyed as homeless. Of those individuals, 101 agreed to participate in a 22-question survey, seven were dependent children and 24 were observed as homeless.

Disturbingly, 32 per cent of respondents were under the age of 24, and 56 per cent of those surveyed said they first experienced homelessness prior to the age of 19.

Dylan Griffith, the point-in-time count’s co-ordinator, said the number of homeless youth is likely consistent to other communities. It’s also, he added, probably a lot higher than 32 per cent.

“Youth are generally really hard to count because they don’t access services the way that adults do, there’s no emergency shelter for youth, youth are generally weary of adults,” said Griffith.

“When they see an adult coming at them with a clipboard they don’t want to talk to that adult. Youth are just harder to connect with, so that number is low. We know that that number is still much lower than what the actual percentage of youth who are experiencing homelessness or really precarious housing is.”

There was a focus on youth homelessness during the afternoon presentation at the Adventure Hotel.

Of the respondents under the age of 24, 43 per cent identify as LGBTQ2S, 54 per cent have been in foster care and 50 per cent have been living in Nelson for at least five years.

Conflict with parents or guardians was the main factor in youth homelessness, while 93 per cent said high rents were to blame for finding housing.

There is also a high occurrence of hidden homelessness, which in this case refers to people staying in other’s homes. Seventy-five per cent of youth respondents had stayed at someone’s home at least one time in the previous 12 months, while 57 per cent had done so the night before the survey was held.

There are also few service options in Nelson for people who are young and homeless. Stepping Stones shelter does not admit anyone under the age of 19, and Cicada Place, which offers transitional housing for at-risk youth, has just 10 apartment units.

Ann Harvey, the report card’s editor as well as the community co-ordinator for the Nelson Committee on Homelessness, said she hopes the stats show a need to address homelessness early.

“I think it’s more an ah-hah moment across the country as well as more communities look at the nature of homelessness, how it starts, when it starts,” said Harvey. “It could be a very effective approach if we start with the youth for the future as well.”

Related:

Nelson seniors’ poverty rate among highest in province

Matt Reeder remembered at memorial in Nelson

Nelson council bans ‘nuisance’ behaviour on the street

Nelson was the smallest community to participate in the nationwide point-in-time count, which included 61 municipalities. Each community’s survey included 14 mandatory questions, while Nelson’s survey added eight more.

Griffith said the statistics are key to funding requests.

“It helps us to leverage funding because we can go to BC Housing, we can go to the provincial government, we can go to various programs and federal government programs and say these are the issues we are dealing with in our community, we need funding to help build housing and to provide services. Without that data, without those numbers, we don’t get the money.”

While 132 people identified as having experienced some type of homelessness, which is up from the 116 counted in 2016, another 107 said one or more factors meant they were facing the possibility losing their housing within a month or two.

Eighty-two per cent of respondents said high rent and a lack of affordable housing is a barrier to finding and keeping housing. Forty-seven per cent of Nelson renters are spending over 30 per cent of their income on housing, which is higher than the provincial average of 43 per cent.

Other statistics in the report include:

• Fifty five per cent of those surveyed have lived in Nelson for at least five years.

• Family already living in the region was the top reason people gave for moving to the city. Just nine of the 101 surveys completed indicated people came to Nelson for its services.

• Fifty five per cent said dental services were their highest need to achieve stability, followed at 51 per cent by mental health services.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Nelson's 10th Annual Report Card on Homelessness by Tyler Harper on Scribd

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

Just Posted

Two new fires burning in the Arrow Lakes Region

One of the fires is burning approximately 30 kilometres northwest of Castlegar

Municipal climate caucus, founded in Nelson, meets for national online conference

The group consists of 294 mayors, councillors and regional directors from across the country

Navy vessel to be named after Nelson’s Hampton Gray

The announcement comes on the 75th anniversary of Gray’s death

Nelson’s police chief retiring

Chief Paul Burkart has given notice for the spring of 2021

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read