Campbell River will be part of Housing B.C.’s Point in Time homelessness count this year, but the process is going to be different from previous years.
Point in Time counts provide a snapshot of people who are facing either housing insecurity or a lack of housing over a 24-hour period in a given community. Provincially-funded PIT Counts were started in 2018, which included Campbell River. One was scheduled for 2020, but that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, 81 people were counted, a number which is expected to go up in 2021.
Usually, counts are carried out by volunteers on a day chosen by the community leaders. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the process will be a bit more streamlined. The count will be undertaken on April 9 by by social services workers. Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness coordinator Stefanie Hendrickson will reach out to social service agencies and coordinate staff made available to help out, she said during the Feb. 4 Coalition meeting.
According to a statement from the province, the safety plan for the count has been approved by the Provincial Health Officer and the count will only be done if all involved are comfortable.
”All survey administrators will practise physical distancing and use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Wherever possible, count activities will take place outside,” read the statement. “Rather than hosting a community event, we’ll rely on existing networks amongst peers, service providers and outreach teams.”
Social services groups use the gender, age, Indigenous identity, racial identity and population number data to get an idea of the situation in their communities.
“This data will help us and local communities better understand who is experiencing homelessness and why – and the results can inform the development of supports and services that will best help people in need, in different communities,” said the provincial statement.
Housing is only one part of the issue, the statement continued.
“We also need a system of care that includes health and social supports like mental health and addictions, safe supply, income, peer support, and education and work experience opportunities…This continuum of care will help to ensure that people experiencing homelessness have a place to call home and a system of supports to help them move forward, wherever they are in their life.”