In March 2020, more than 1,500 people were homeless in Victoria, according to a survey by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. (Black Press Media file photo)

In March 2020, more than 1,500 people were homeless in Victoria, according to a survey by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. (Black Press Media file photo)

Housing, homelessness and affordability top concerns in Greater Victoria: Vital Signs report

2020 report sees drop in ratings for housing, newcomer opportunities

Housing and homelessness were top concerns for Greater Victoria in 2020, according to the annual Vital Signs report.

The data, released by the Victoria Foundation, is collected through an online survey open to all interested Greater Victoria citizens. This year, 1,793 residents contributed to the report, assigning grades to 12 key issue areas and answering questions about quality of life, happiness and connection to community.

While the ‘best things about Greater Victoria’ were unchanged from 2019, housing was the top theme of participants’ concerns this year, and ratings dropped from the year prior.

Housing received a D+ rating, down from a C- minus in 2019, with 64 per cent of respondents giving a below average or poor rating for availability of affordable home ownership options and 82 per cent disagreeing that young adults have access to affordable housing.

READ ALSO: Average housing prices would have to drop by $413,000 for Victoria to become affordable

Based on data from the Victoria Real Estate Board, purchasing a single family home will cost you, on average, $837,500 – a $62,500-increase from 2019.

In Victoria, roughly 250 people live outside, and the latest Point in Time survey from the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness indicates that, in March, at least 1,523 people were experiencing various forms of homelessness, whether that was sleeping in emergency shelters, couch surfing or living in transitional housing.

And although coordinated efforts have been undertaken between the City of Victoria and the provincial government, 63 per cent of participants in the Vital Signs report disagree that efforts to reduce homelessness have been successful.

Participants also gave poor grades to the category of ‘getting started’ in Greater Victoria – a section focusing on newcomers and young people. More than half disagreed that young adults can find suitable employment or have a high standard of living, and 82 per cent disagreed that young people have access to affordable housing.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 30 per cent of B.C.’s recent immigrants lost their jobs between February and May 2020 and workers under 25 years old were three times as likely to lose their job.

Childcare spaces are limited too – the 12,878 average monthly licensed childcare spaces funded by the government are only enough for 24 per cent of the South Island’s child population under 12 years old.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria has zero affordable neighbourhoods for full-time workers earning minimum wage


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