Posted January 14, 2009 by Adam Toren in Vancouver Real Estate

Rusting home sleeps four

homelessAll over the states and to a lesser degree in Canada, homeless advocacy groups and agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homelessness on our city streets, parks and pretty much anywhere you can pitch a tent (for those lucky enough to have a tent). The city of Santa Barbara has even given over a parking lot to people who sleep in cars and vans.

Rising prices, falling markets and U.S. banks forcing people out of their homes aren’t helping the situation. Throw in an occasional hurricane and there are thousands of people no longer living where they used to call home.

Yet, there seems to be thousands of homes sitting empty. How strange? Thousands need a home and thousands of homes are empty….wait…..it’s coming…. Eureka!

Now before you send Don Cherry to run me out of the country, admit it. It does sound a little goofy doesn’t it?  Like going to the doctor and saying “It hurts when I do this…ouch!” to which the doctor replies “Then don’t do that!”

This past spring, the 2008 Homeless count found the number of homeless between Burnaby and Maple Ridge has doubled since 2005, finding 2,660 homeless people in Metro Vancouver. No doubt the numbers are actually higher, but of those identified as homeless, more than half (1,372) remain in the city of Vancouver.  Surrey had the next highest total at (402). Other cities numbers were: New Westminster (123), North Vancouver (116), the Tri-cities (91), Burnaby (84), Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows (85) Richmond (56).

The top reasons for living on the streets: lack of income (25%), cost of housing (19%), addictions (17%) family problems (10%).

These numbers included 100 fully employed people. The average age of a homeless person is 41 and 94 of the homeless were children. Half of the homeless have been on the streets for a year or more.  58%stayed outside at night. Welfare recipients can receive the standard shelter allowance of $325 a month – a rate that hasn’t changed in 12 years.

Vancouver’s new mayor Gregor Robertson stated “My first order of business is to call an emergency task force on homelessness and to focus on how we get people off the street as quickly as possible in to temporary housing or shelter.”

Let’s hope he can keep his word.

Adam Toren

Adam Toren
Adam Toren is born and raised in Vancouver BC and loves everything Vancouver BC has to offer. He loves traveling and exploring new and unique restaurants and places around the world.