Despite the fatal dangers associated with homelessness, the City of Vancouver’s 2015 homeless count numbers show that government inaction over the past year has meant hundreds of people in the city are still at risk of an early death sentence.
Vancouver homeless count shows hundreds on the streets risk an early death
Last year, Megaphone released a landmark report on homeless deaths entitled ‘Dying in the Streets’ that showed the median age of death for a homeless person in British Columbia is between 40 and 49 years, almost half the life expectancy of 82.65 years of the average British Columbian.
At least 64 homeless people died in Vancouver between 2007 and 2013—however, the true number is much higher. These deaths are largely preventable. Megaphone's report showed that accidental deaths accounted for 47% of all homeless deaths in the province, more than double the 18.3% of deaths among the general population.
The numbers released today from the City of Vancouver’s March 2015 point-in-time homeless count reveal a slight decrease from 2014: from 1803 homeless people (with 536 street homeless) to 1746 homeless people (with 488 street homeless).
“It’s incredibly discouraging that the city’s homeless count numbers are virtually static,” says Sean Condon, executive director of Megaphone. “We know that homelessness in this city is equivalent to an early death sentence. But government inaction means that the city’s most vulnerable citizens will continue to die.”
The total number of homeless deaths in Vancouver is considered an undercount because of gaps in the way BC Coroners Service tracks the deaths, as highlighted in the report. The city’s homeless count numbers should also be seen as an undercount, which means the problem is much worse than reported.
“Despite how dangerous and expensive homelessness is, and despite lofty promises of ending homelessness, governments are not taking enough concrete action to end homelessness,” says Condon. “We need bold, decisive action from all levels of government in order to see a substantial decrease in the city’s homeless numbers. The lives of Vancouver’s most vulnerable citizens depend on it.”
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