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Volunteers counted 644 homeless people in Surrey over 24 hours in March

Data collected helps governments and community agencies help the homeless
A volunteer takes notes during the March homeless count. (Photo: BCNPHA)

Surrey had 644 homeless people during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in the province.

That’s according to preliminary data from the 2020 Homeless Count, which identified 3,634 homeless people in Metro Vancouver. The count was conducted on March 3 and March 4 by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, or BCNPHA.

A press release from the BCNPHA indicates that seniors’ homelessness continues while Indigenous people remain “significantly” overrepresented.

“Additionally, racial identity data collected for the first time in a regional count reveals that Black people were found to be disproportionately represented among racialized groups experiencing homelessness,” the press release says this year’s count revealed.

Of those people counted, other than in Surrey, Vancouver had the highest number of homeless at 2,095, followed by Surrey (644) and then Langley (209). Roughly 1,200 volunteers participated in the count.

READ ALSO: Volunteers search for ‘hidden problem’ during Surrey’s homeless count

“Surrey and Langley were among five communities that showed an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness along with Burnaby, the North Shore and Richmond,” the press released indicated. “Small decreases in the number of individuals who were reported as homeless were seen in Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, White Rock, Ridge Meadows, New Westminster and Delta.”

Of all 3,634 counted, 2,605 had some form of shelter while 1,029 were unsheltered. This year’s count recorded 29 more homeless people than the 3,605 recorded in the 2017 count.

“The Homeless Count provides important insight into the diversity of individuals experiencing homelessness as well as the different challenges and circumstances they face,” said Lorraine Copas, chairwoman of the community advisory board that oversees the count. “This year, we have continued to work to explore different methodologies and approaches to allow us to deepen our insight. At the same time, it is important to recognize that behind each of the statistics is someone who is living without a place that they can call their own and who deserves every chance to realize their full potential.”

Data collected during these counts helps governments and community agencies make develop policy and programs aimed at helping the homeless.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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