VIEWPOINT – Homelessness closer than people think

The typical working-class mythology is that you go to work and have enough income to provide the necessities of life

The typical working-class mythology is that you go to work and have enough income to provide the necessities of life – food, shelter, and clothing with some left over for rainy days and some fun.

But that isn’t the picture for many. A new report into homelessness in the Lower Mainland shows it’s closer for many people than anyone would like to think.

The report came out during Homelessness Action Week, which ends Tuesday (Oct. 18). Notice how society has moved past ‘awareness’ week to action.

The report found that between 2010 and 2015 the average rent for a bachelor suite in Metro Vancouver increased by 16 per cent and a one-bedroom by 15 per cent. Combine that with a 0.8 per cent vacancy rate (compared with 1.9 in 2010) and it’s hard for workers to find homes, let alone people struggling to get off the streets.

Around 2011, shelter users were about 28 per cent women. Now that’s risen to 32 per cent, and senior women are a new tragic demographic being seen among the homeless.

In Metro Vancouver, more than 10,000 people are on the B.C. Housing registry, waiting for help to find housing.

This all means crisis management by governments, instead of well planned and well-thought out action. When enough pressure is put on because of homeless camps, communities close in to move people along and the province announces some emergency funding to make more shelter mats available.

Last month, the B.C. government announced $500 million to create 2,900 rental units, after announcing in February it would spend $355 million to create 2,000 new units of affordable rental housing.

Unfortunate that the planning is not done better before the crisis.