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Youth Homelessness, Housing highlights 10th Annual Report Card

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By Contributor
June 27th, 2018

The need to address youth homelessness was one of the major conclusions drawn from the findings of Nelson’s Point In Time (PiT) Homeless Count and survey said a report conducted by Nelson CARES.

These Nelson Committee on Homelessness’ (NCOH) Report Card was released Tuesday. The Count happened during a 24-hour period on April 10th through 11th, funded by the Homelessness Partnering Strategy program of the federal government through a contract with Nelson CARES.

“This indicates homelessness is a cycle that is very hard to leave” said Jenny Robinson, Executive Director of Nelson CARES. “The earlier that supports, stability and a path out of homelessness can occur in life, the more chance there is for a healthier life for the individual and our community in the long run.

The survey also found that 40 percent of all respondents had been in foster care or group homes in their life. The 24-hour PiT Count found a total of 132 people were found to be experiencing some type of homelessness with more than 100 people agreeing to be surveyed.  Of the 101, 56 percent reported that they first experienced homelessness before they were 19 years of age. 

One-third of all people surveyed in Nelson experiencing homelessness were youth 24 years old and under.

“Homelessness is not always as evident with youth,” said Dylan Griffith, Coordinator of the PiT Count and survey, adding 57 percent of youth surveyed who were homeless had crashed at someone else’s place the night before and had no permanent residence to return to.  

“These youth are part of what we call the ‘Hidden Homeless’,” Griffith added. “They cycle between informal, temporary living situations that are removed from community social supports, “ said Griffith. 

The report said 75 percent of all respondents to the survey had experienced some form of ‘hidden homelessness’ in the past 12 months.

The second major conclusion of the PiT survey came from people who were not homeless, and therefore screened out, but asked one question:  “Are you concerned that your current housing may be at risk in the immediate future?” 

The report said 30 percent or 107 of 360 housed people who answered this question indicated they felt at imminent risk of losing their housing because they feared inability to pay the rent, had leases ending, had concerns about their health or the safety of their building, or were experiencing household conflict or feared for their personal safety at home.

“This housing precariousness is reflected in other indicators we tracked in the Report Card,” said Ann Harvey, NCOH Community Coordinator.

These indicators showed continued 0% vacancy rates, climbing advertised rental rates for one and two bedroom units, and a significant increase in the number of shared-living situations advertised.

“These factors put more people at-risk of not finding suitable housing, of losing it if they can’t afford it or of face precarious housing situations,” said Harvey.

A survey of Advertised Rental Rates in April and May by NCOH also showed that a significant number of two and three bedroom units were being rented as shared living situations, where no landlord was present, rather than for family housing.

“Advertised three bedroom family rentals are scarce, not only in Nelson, but in the region.  Prices and vacancy rates are pushing modest and low income households out of Nelson.  Rising prices in advertised rental rates in Castlegar, Trail and the Slocan Valley reflect this increased demand for relatively more affordable housing than is available in Nelson.

“Transportation then becomes an issue,” said Harvey,  “and this was noted as the top barrier stopping people who were homeless from accessing  the services they need.”

The Report Card tracks paths into and out of homelessness, and  highlights how community and government services are working to address issues of poverty and homelessness. 

“As a community we have a lot to be proud of,” said NCOH Co-Chair Phyllis Nash. “We also have a long way to go as the economic, systemic and structural changes and stresses in our society move more people into precarious life styles. “

A copy of Report Card can be found at: http://nelsoncares.ca/10th-annual-report-card-on-homelessness-in-nelson/ .

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