Youth homelessness the big worry as Vancouver does annual count


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The number of young people living on the street in Vancouver is growing, and that’s the big concern as city staff do their annual count of the homeless.

Up to 750 people under 25 — some as young as 13 — are either on the street or in a precarious position every night, according to Callum Scott with Directions Youth Services.

“Youth are choosing to sleep on the street as opposed to going into the cold weather shelters that are being provided by the province because it’s just not safe enough for them,” he explains.

Scott says this is where the problem of homelessness starts.

“We’ll always have an issue, if we’re not stopping the upstream of homelessness. The most important thing the province can really look at right now is making sure they’re making room for youth homelessness within their strategies. Dealing with youth homelessness is very different than dealing with adult homelessness. In the Metro Vancouver region, we have a very limited supply of youth-specific housing and shelters.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson is hoping to see some dollars dedicated to homelessness and affordable housing in the federal budget in a couple of weeks.

“We’re keeping the pressure on the BC government as well, they’ve been partners with us in building a whole bunch of social housing in recent years. But we don’t have a commitment going forward to get the people who are currently outside off the street and into housing.”

This year’s homeless count will finish tonight. We’ll have the exact number within a few weeks.

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