Providing affordable housing with support services is seen as the primary solution to homelessness although the majority of Lower Mainland residents believe job training and employment are the preferred ways to address aboriginal homelessness. Meanwhile, more than one in five believes no ideas are worth implementing to deal with aboriginal homelessness.
These are some of the wide-ranging findings from an Angus Reid online survey examining the attitudes of Metro Vancouver residents towards homelessness in the region.
The survey of 1,006 randomly selected Lower Mainland adults was conducted from Sept. 10 to 12 and commissioned by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.
"We have a lot of work to be done," said Patrick Stewart, co-chair of Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee, which represents 24 service providers. "It appears, at least on the aboriginal questions. that I'm not sure how much people understand the issues."
Stewart noted when people were asked what could be done about homelessness in general, they said provide more affordable housing with support services, yet when asked what to do about aboriginal homelessness, in particular, only 15 per cent selected more affordable housing-60 per cent said they'd increase community development supports, such as job training and employment opportunities for aboriginal people. "It's hard to know why people said what they did or how questions were asked. I don't know how the questions were framed, so that makes it more difficult, but within our community, the aboriginal community, we still are pushing for more affordable housing-it's definitely an issue. But it has to come with supports and supports are what people did identify."
Stewart was "disconcerted" by some of the findings, but he said the results are good to have. He pointed to the finding that one in five believes no ideas are worth implementing to deal with aboriginal homelessness. "It may be people's perception is that aboriginal people get enough help. I don't know, but when we're so over-represented on the street, definitely something has to happen."
Other survey findings revealed that nearly one in four respondents know someone who is either homelessness or has been homeless in the last five years. "So you can tell how widespread it is," Stewart said.
Only one in three residents is satisfied with the progress in addressing homelessness and residents are more concerned about homelessness among people with disabilities, children, youth, and seniors than other groups.
The release of the survey results was timed for Homelessness Action Week, which runs from Oct. 7 to 13. firstname.lastname@example.org
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