WATCH: A count of Victoria’s homeless population is underway. The goal isn’t just to have a number, but to get a sense of who the homeless are, and what led them there. Monica Martinez reports.
Volunteers pick up their surveys and badges, and get set to participate in the country’s first nation-wide homeless count.
“It’s more than just the number, we are finding out a little bit more about individuals,” said Victoria councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe.
“For example, the age of how many represent the youth group. How many are veterans, how many are seniors.”
250 volunteers will be out from noon until midnight Wednesday, asking Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens questions about their life.
“Were you born in Victoria, have you ever been in a residential school? Do you have an addiction? that sort of thing,” said homeless advocate Reverend Al Tysick.
Victoria is one of 30 communities participating in the federally funded initiative called the Point-in-Time Count of homelessness.
The count includes people in shelters, transitional housing, people living outside and in public facilities.
The goal is to have a better understanding of what resources are needed.
“It might help pinpoint the services needed and where the gaps are and where the homeless really are hanging out,” Tysick said.
“You can’t solve the problem until you understand what the problem really is, and what you should be focusing on,” said Thornton-Joe.
Nicholas Jewell has been living in tent city since November and thinks the survey is a great idea.
“Not putting too much hope in the results of it, but at least the information will be clear. At least you can get a finger on the pulse of the homeless community and it’s good at least to see the government trying,” he said.
Nicole Law, who uses services at Our Place, hopes the count will result in change.
“We also have to help people that are going to become homeless think about those people as well,” Law said.
Cities have until April to complete the count. After results are in, Canadians will have a better understanding of who is on the street, and what may have led them there.