New data released on people experiencing homelessness in B.C.
An innovative approach to data collection and reporting is helping government better understand the underlying factors that lead to homelessness and better support people in finding stable housing and services that meet their needs.
The 2021 estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness in B.C., an update from the 2020 and 2019 estimates, is part of government’s Preventing and Reducing Homelessness Integrated Data project. The project estimates the number of people who experienced homelessness in the province.
As the data grows, it allows government to make evidence-based decisions on what services and supports are needed most to prevent or end the cycle for people experiencing homelessness in B.C.
The report adds another year of data to the 2020 and 2019 estimates that were released last year. This project links de-identified data from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, the Ministry of Health and BC Housing to estimate the number of people who have experienced homelessness in B.C.
With an updated data set for 2021, analysts can begin to see the emergence of some patterns. The numbers offer the ability to monitor seasonal and geographic trends, and demographics of individuals in B.C. who experience homelessness.
According to the research, the latest findings show:
- 11,896 people, on average, were identified as experiencing homelessness each month, (range = 11,331 in February to 12,758 in December).
- 26,240 people experienced homelessness in B.C. at some point in 2021. In comparison, 24,270 people experienced homelessness at some point in 2020, and 24,507 people experienced homelessness at some point in 2019.
- 10,424 people were newly identified in 2021 as not having experienced homelessness in 2020 or 2019, while 10,013 people who had experienced homelesness in 2020 did not meet the definition of experiencing it again in 2021.
The data counts people who accessed income assistance and people who reported having no fixed address and people who accessed a shelter over the course of 2021. The data also shows where people are experiencing homelessness, whether their homelessness was short term or chronic, and examines when people enter and exit homelessness.
Government is using this data to implement Belonging in BC, the Province’s plan to prevent and reduce homelessness. The plan adds thousands of new supportive housing units and hundreds of complex-care spaces provincewide, and creates multidisciplinary regional response teams designed to rapidly respond to encampments to better support people sheltering outdoors to move inside.
- The Belonging in BC homelessness plan is delivered through initiatives across government and supported by investments of $1.18 billion in Budget 2023 and $633 million in Budget 2022.
- Since 2017, government has helped approximately 5,600 people who were experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness move into new supportive housing.
- Another 2,300 supportive homes are underway, including approximately 860 homes coming to Vancouver and 250 in Victoria.
- In addition, the Province is funding more than 5,500 shelter spaces in 55 communities throughout the province this winter, including permanent, temporary and extreme-weather response shelters.