Volunteers will be taking to communities across Greater Victoria next month as part of a collaborative effort to count how many people are currently experiencing homelessness in the capital region.
The Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) — along with support from the Capital Regional District (CRD), the Alliance to End Homelessness in the Capital Region and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness — will be leading its bi-annual Point in Time (PiT) Homelessness Count and Survey for a 24-hour period beginning the night of Tuesday, March 7.
“Homelessness is a reality for too many Canadians and a challenge for every Canadian community,” said Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of housing, in a news release. “It’s crucial that we base our decisions on accurate and sound data.”
According to Hussen, the Greater Victoria count will help find effective ways to reduce chronic homelessness, make informed decisions and meet the federal government’s goal of slashing the number of unhoused people in half nationally by 2027 to 2028.
The Government of Canada has invested almost $4 billion over nine years to address homelessness, Hussen said, including $116,800 to fund this year’s count through its community-based program Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.
“The PiT survey provides critical public information on causes and experiences of homelessness in our region,” Hussen said. “The data from the PiT is used to support planing, services and destigmatize homelessness,” said CSPC executive director Diana Gibson. The CSPC has led the national PiT count since it was first coordinated in 2016.
Trained volunteers will count and survey people staying in Greater Victoria shelters, short-term housing, as well as individuals without shelter, or “sleeping rough.” The endeavour, the not-for-profit says, is intended to provide a “snapshot” of homelessness in the capital region.
Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said the count is an important piece of the city’s response to homelessness.
“It helps us measure the utility of existing programs, more effectively coordinate resources in our community, and inform how we provide services to unhoused Victorians,” said Alto.
The last PiT conducted in 2020 found that at least 1,523 people were experiencing homelessness in the Greater Victoria.
Anyone interested in PiT volunteer positions can sign up online, or contact Volunteer Victoria at 250-386-2269.
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