Seven of 14 city-owned properties dedicated for social housing now have buildings on them with 40 per cent of their tenants formerly homeless.
City council received the news Tuesday at city hall from housing staff who one year earlier sounded the alarm that not enough homeless people were being housed in four of the buildings opened at the time.
City staff, including Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, were critical last year of B.C Housing, the housing arm of the provincial government, and non-profits for not offering apartments to more homeless people.
The city owns the properties but B.C. Housing has funded the majority of the construction and operating costs, along with several hundred thousand dollars from the Streetohome Foundation.
“I’m glad to see that our tenanting levels are up to 40 per cent from 30, and I’m hoping we can still up that a little bit more,” Jang said in the council chambers Tuesday.
Brenda Prosken, the city’s deputy general manager of community services, delivered the latest statistics on the tenant mix in the seven buildings. Prosken was the same staff person who last October pointed out the low numbers of homeless people living in the buildings.
Since then, the city signed a memorandum of understanding with B.C. Housing to have 50 per cent of tenants housed in the buildings come from shelters and the streets.
“That we are confident of, which immediately increases our numbers,” she told council.
The remaining mix of tenants are from single-room occupancy hotels and people considered at risk of homelessness, including “couch surfers” and those recently discharged from hospitals, jails or foster care.
The seven buildings comprise 630 units and are spread across the city, including Mount Pleasant, Dunbar and Kitsilano. Non-profits operate the buildings and the government has said tenants have access to health care workers, counsellors and addiction specialists. When the remaining seven buildings are built, it will equal 1,575 new units of housing.
Though more homeless people have moved into the buildings, council heard Tuesday that 1,602 homeless people were counted in the city’s homeless count in the spring.
Of the 1,602, the count revealed 306 were living on the street while 1,296 had found some form of shelter. The city released the numbers earlier this year but Tuesday’s report provided more detail about the findings, including:
- Seventy-three per cent were male, 26 per cent female and one per cent transgendered.
- The largest group of homeless are between 45 and 54 years old, followed by the 35 to 44 age group and 25 to 34 year olds.
- Thirty-two per cent are aboriginal.
- Forty-one per cent, or 339 people were on income assistance, 21 per cent had a disability and 16 per cent had no income. Twelve per cent were employed.
- Fifty-nine per cent, or 532, had an addiction, 40 per cent had a mental illness, 36 per cent with a medical condition and 30 per cent with a physical disability.
It’s unclear today how many people are living on the streets since the city’s count was done when several winter shelters were open.