METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – There are an estimated 2,600 people living on the street or in temporary shelters in Metro Vancouver, but for every homeless person you see, there are four more “invisible” homeless around you.
“Few people realize that some 80 per cent of homeless people do not live on the street,” says Deb Bryant, Co-Chair of the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness. “These are the people who live in their cars, in church basements, or on the floors and couches of friends and family. They live month-to-month in unstable and even unsafe housing, and always with the fear of ending up on the street.”
Oct 13-19 is Homelessness Action Week (HAW), focusing not only on providing support and services to people who are homeless, but also on raising awareness about the growing problem of invisible homelessness.
“Maybe some people just need help with health or addiction problems or maybe mental heath issues and we’d like to get supports in place for them. Often, people are just facing the cost of housing in the Lower Mainland,” says Bryant.
“Certainly, the long-term solution is to make sure there’s adequate affordable housing for people of all income levels so that people don’t fall out of the precarious position of living cheque-to-cheque.”
She tells us the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness tries to ensure that everyone gets into housing. “People need a place to go every night that is secure, safe and theirs, at least temporarily.”
They then ensure homeless people, or those at risk of becoming homeless, are connected to the services available to help them.
Bryant says the numbers are growing; with 2,600 people on the street, there are an estimated 10,000-plus “invisible homeless”.