Diving into New West's homeless count for 2023
At the time of the March count, there were 203 people experiencing some form of homelessness
New West city staff are providing further details in relation to the 2023 Homeless Count, which took place throughout the Greater Vancouver region earlier this year.
The report notes that at the time there were a total of 203 unhoused people—but staff have shared in a report to council more information as to who these folks are.
It’s important to note these counts are a snapshot, and that the numbers can fluctuate for a variety of reasons. That being said, the city’s report to council noted that this was not as likely to be an undercount relative to other municipalities case because of New West’s smaller geographical size and the larger count of volunteers who helped with the count.
This year’s count happened from March 7 to 8 in shelters, transition houses, safe houses, hospitals,and police holding cells, and from 6am to midnight. The previous count took place over the same dates in 2020—just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit—while the count was first established in 2005.
An increase in New Westminster’s numbers
The full total of 203 accounts for those who were not in a sheltered spaced at the time of the count, as well as those who were in places like extreme winter response shelters and holding cells.
“[The 203] represented an increase of 64 persons or 78% from the 2020 point-in-time homeless count,” city staff write in their report to council. “Of note, of the 146 sheltered homeless persons enumerated, 63 or 43% were staying in the nightly shelter which is operated by Purpose Society and is accessed off of Front St.”
On the age front, three-in-four were self-identified as an adult, with the term “adult” defined as being aged 25-54. In the gender identity category, 74% self-identified as male, 25% self-identified as female and 1% self-identified as another gender identity. About 4% of the respondents were from the LGBTQ2IA+ community.
The City noted that there was a significant representation of those who were navigating mental health and/or health issues: 47% said they had a mental health issue, and 52% said they affirmed an addiction. An addiction for the purposes of the survey includes both behavioural and substance issues, and encompasses alcohol, cannabis, gambling, opioids and stimulants.
On the topic of why the individual lost their housing, there were multiple instances of the respondent losing their place for multiple reasons.
The city says the five main cited reasons were not having enough income, addiction/substance use, a landlord/tenant conflict, a spouse/parent conflict, and a mental health issue.