Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


October 6, 2011

Statement on Homelessness Action Week

S. Simpson: I want to speak today about Homelessness Week, which will be recognized next week in B.C. We all know the challenge and reality that homelessness presents for many of the most vulnerable citizens in every corner of British Columbia, and we know that both local governments and the province have worked to address this issue.

However, we also know that for all these efforts, the challenge still exists. In Metro Vancouver we have seen overall homelessness numbers grow from about 1,200 people in 2002 to just over 2,600 in 2011. We know this is not exclusive to Metro Vancouver. Thousands of British Columbians in Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Nanaimo, Victoria, the Kootenays and every other community in B.C. are homeless.

A key area of concern is the growth in youth homelessness. For those under the age of 25, we have seen a 29 percent increase since 2008. We know, too, that many of the homeless in our province face challenges of addiction and mental health issues, challenges that make meeting their needs even more complex. These are challenges that mean any solutions require additional supports and resources if they're to succeed.

While homelessness is one of our most public housing challenges, it is not alone. Increasingly, community groups, academics and others are speaking out about core housing need. The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada has identified 220,000 households in B.C. living in core housing need. That is some 550,000 British Columbians who are uncertain about the security of housing for themselves and their families.

I know that members on both sides of this House regularly hear these concerns in their communities, and I believe every MLA recognizes that until all our neighbours have a safe and affordable place to call home, Homelessness Week will remain as an uncomfortable reminder of the unfinished business that is in front of us.

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