Most of the Campbell Riverites experiencing homelessness had their first experiences with homelessness at a young age, according to data released last week from the province.
According to new details from the 2021 Point in Time Homelessness count (PiT Count) held in April, 69 per cent of unhoused people in Campbell River experienced homelessness for the first time as a youth. That number is a drastic increase from the data collected in 2018, the last time a point in time count was held — then only 36 per cent. Stefanie Hendrickson, coordinator for the Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness, says the number is surprising and showed that the coalition needed to work towards helping that group in the future.
“It’s a really high number,” she said. “We are seeing with these demographics an indication that we need to start looking at prevention tools that are geared towards young people and starting our work a lot earlier.
“I think a lot of that work is being done, but it’s a good reminder for organizations and as communities come up with strategic plans and action plans, to make sure that that’s really something that’s being considered at the forefront,” Hendrickson added.
Broken down by age, 36 per cent of respondents were under 25, 54 per cent were between 25 and 54, and 10 per cent were 55 and up. According to the survey, one of the top three reasons for housing loss was a conflict with a parent or guardian, and 45 per cent of respondents spent time in foster care, a youth group home or under a youth agreement.
Hendrickson said that the difference could be due to better surveying this year, but regardless has identified a demographic that needs representation during their discussions.
“It could be that we just did a better job of finding youth this year than we did three years ago. That might show the vast difference between 2018 and 2021. That being said, what it definitely does show us is that this is a demographic that we need to look at… this is something that needs to be seriously considered as we move forward with homelessness prevention.
“I know that some jurisdictions are using different metrics and tools within the school system to be able to identify risk and hopefully be able to identify folks before they become homeless. It could be that amplification of those types of tools is something that needs to be done,” she added. “This is a really significant number: 69 per cent experiencing homelessness for the first time as a youth.”
Some of the coalition’s members are already doing work with youth, but Hendrickson said more needs to be done
“This is just telling us that this is something that can’t be ignored and needs to be taken into account as we’re looking at developing plans going forward.”