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Advocacy groups want rural and remote homelessness data

‘There’s information that we just don’t have at all’ — CRDCEH Coordinator
Gold River is one of the communities that will be included in the rural and remote homelessness survey. John McKinley File Photo

The Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness is hoping to get a more accurate picture of housing needs in the rural and remote communities that fall under their purview.

Over the next few months, the coalition along with the Urban Indigenous and Wellness Coalition will be coordinating a group of people from the smaller communities within the Strathcona Regional District to help administer a survey that will show just how many people are either chronically homeless and at other points in the homelessness spectrum within the area.

“In Campbell River we have our Point In Time Count Data, which isn’t great. It’s something at least, and it gives us a bit of demographic information,” said Coalition coordinator Stefanie Hendrickson. “When we look at Quadra, Cortes, Gold River and all the outlying communities, there’s information that we just don’t have at all. We have no idea what the state of housing is in those regions.”

The Point in Time count, which is a snapshot of homelessness within a community during a 24 hour period is less accurate than the proposed survey, which will take place over the course of a month or so. The survey also will help get valuable data on people living in precarious situations and are at risk of becoming homeless.

“The only anecdotal evidence that we have is that all communities indicate that they are short on housing just like we are here in Campbell River, that quite a bit of the Housing in rural and remote areas is either run down or needs significant repairs, or there’s multiple families living in one unit of housing,” Hendrickson said.

Having that more accurate information would make it easier for the coalitions to advocate for people in the region, giving access to funding and other resources to help reduce homelessness. That includes de-stigmatizing work and showing how close some people are to being housing insecure.

“It’s really looking at housing needs. We want to hear from people who are in housing that’s not in good shape, that needs repairs or people who are maybe just one paycheque away from not being housed anymore,” Hendrickson said. “People are starting to see it, but it’s really important that people hear it too so we can all come together and advocate as a community to various levels of government to do better.”

Hendrickson says they are looking at around February or March to administer the survey, which will give them time to find people in the different communities to help out. These can include emergency workers, rural and remote nurses and non-profits.

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