Homelessness rates for Aboriginal people are the highest ever in Metro Vancouver

ABORIGINAL people account for one-third (34%) of the homeless in Metro Vancouver — the highest proportion ever recorded – despite representing only 2.5 per cent of the region’s population, according to a report released on Monday on Aboriginal homelessness.

“This 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver underscores what we already know: that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by homelessness, and that fewer of them are accessing shelter,” said David Wells, Chair of the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee (AHSC). “Low income urban Aboriginal people are struggling to survive in an environment where housing is unaffordable and the cost of living continues to climb.”

Aboriginal peoples are over-represented among the region’s homeless population relative to the Metro Vancouver’s mainstream population.

The report attributes the key causes of homelessness among Aboriginal people to social, systemic and historical factors. In addition to securing safe and affordable housing, it notes Aboriginal people face additional barriers such as poverty, racism, intergenerational trauma and migration from their home communities to urban centres. Metro Vancouver is one of the most unaffordable cities for housing in the world, adding to the systemic economic disadvantage facing Aboriginal Peoples.

“These realities offer insight into why Aboriginal peoples are overrepresented among the homeless population and should be essential considerations in any path forward,” Wells said. “Intergenerational trauma, in particular, has emerged as a central theme in much of the research on Aboriginal homelessness.”

The Aboriginal Homeless Steering Committee is calling for a number of recommendations to be implemented, including the creation of an independent BC Homelessness Ombudsman office to support the interests of homeless individuals who effectively have no voice in the current system, as well as launching landlord educational campaigns.

“Setting goals to eliminate homelessness is unrealistic.  What is important to understand is that Aboriginal Peoples are disproportionately impacted and these numbers can be significantly reduced if appropriate social housing, supports and funding are provided to the Aboriginal community at least to create parity with mainstream society,” says Kent Patenaude, President Lu’ma Native Housing Society.

To read the full Aboriginal Homelessness report, visit: http://ow.ly/dHHp30fpvuR