Nanaimo’s homeless population has grown according to report

Nanaimo's homeless population has grown according to report

Nanaimo’s homeless population has jumped according to a new publicly released report from last year.

On April 27, 2023, the government-funded point-in-time count found that at least 515 people were without homes in Nanaimo.

From the last count in 2020, it’s a jump of 18.9 per cent.

The report’s author says one of the most troubling findings surrounds evictions.

“Thirty-five per cent of the people surveyed reported that their last loss of housing was due to an eviction,” said Andrew Thornton of Nanaimo Systems Planning Organization.

“Of course, people get evicted for lots of different reasons, but that’s very concerning because one of the major issues in addressing homelessness is preventing homelessness.”

Other disturbing findings are that one-third of those surveyed identified as First Nations, a far overrepresentation.

One clear difference between Nanaimo and other cities is that most of the harbour city’s homeless have no proper overnight shelter. They’re living in vehicles or in public spaces on the streets.

“Eighty per cent of the people who are homeless are always visible. They’re always out in public, and Nanaimo simply doesn’t have the number of shelters and/or transitional housing and/or supportive and/or permanent housing that it needs to get people off the street,” said Thornton.

Homeless activist Gord Fuller, who heads the Nanaimo 7-10 Club, says what strikes him is that the numbers always rise.

He says governments, social development groups and people need to put their politics aside.

“Everyone knows the answers are there, but everyone wants to implement their own answers, and that is the problem. Housing first, four pillars approach, google them both. That would just about do it, but you need to get behind that stuff,” said Fuller.

Nanaimo’s mayor believes, along with many others, the city’s homeless population is actually much higher.

“Everybody says the same thing. It’s probably more in the range of 900 or 1,000,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

He says municipalities have stepped up to address homelessness.

“The B.C. Urban Mayor’s Caucus that I’m a member has been calling on the province to deal with this for a long time. The federal government abandoned a national housing strategy back in the 90s,” said Krog.

The goal of the report is to better equip governments on how to address homelessness. The Nanaimo Systems Planning Organization was tasked by city council to get funding to address homelessness in the city.

Thornton says per capita Nanaimo has among the highest homeless population of any city across Canada.

The 48-page report about Nanaimo’s homeless can be found at the following link.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!