The bi-annual Point in Time count will be taking place in March to provide an updated “snapshot” of how many people are homeless in Greater Victoria.
The Point in Time (PiT) count will take place on the night of March 7 and through the day on March 8, 2023.
“The PiT Survey provides critical public information on causes and experiences of homelessness in our region,” says Diana Gibson, executive director of the Community Social Planning Council, which has been leading the PiT Count since the first coordinated national PiT Count in 2016. “The data from the PiT is used to support planning, services and de-stigmatize homelessness.”
Over 24 hours, volunteers will count and survey people who are staying in shelters, short-term housing, and “sleeping rough” or living without shelter. The goal is to provide a “snapshot” of how many people are homeless in the region and improve the understanding of the needs of homeless people.
“The PiT Count harnesses the power of community, through volunteers undertaking important work together to build a snapshot of the challenges we have yet to fully resolve,” says Colin Plant, CRD board chair. “This is vital work in helping to inform ongoing and collaborative efforts to address the needs of so many who continue to struggle through experiences of homelessness.”
The PiT count is currently recruiting volunteers to participate. Anyone interested can sign up at this link.
The federal government has provided $116,800 through Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy to fund the count.
“Homelessness is a reality for too many Canadians and a challenge for every Canadian community. It’s crucial that we base our decisions on accurate and sound data,” said Ahmed Hussen, minister of housing and diversity and inclusion.
“That is why Greater Victoria’s Point-in-Time Count and Survey is so important – it will help us to make informed decisions about how to reduce chronic homelessness and meet our goal of reducing it nationally by 50 per cent by 2027-2028.”
The last PiT count took place in 2020 and at least 1,523 were counted to be experiencing homelessness in the region. Of those, 270 were unsheltered, 350 were in emergency shelters, 145 were couch surfing, 198 were in public systems, and 545 were in transitional housing.
Two-thirds identified as male in 2020.
That survey was taken right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit pushing many out of housing and shelters and onto the streets. Once tent cities started popping up around the city the province stepped in and started moving people from parks into newly-acquired hotels.
“In the past three years we’ve housed over 500 people, so we’re really hoping that the numbers on the street will be less,” said Our Place Society Director of Communications Grant McKenzie. “As we see in the parks and around there’s always going to be more people out there. I’m curious what the numbers will be this year though because we did manage to house so many people.”