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No vacancy: Report card on homelessness reveals no homes for rent

There is nothing for rent in Nelson. Period.

With a vacancy rate of zero per cent, if something does come on the market it will come at significant cost, the Nelson Committee on Homelessness found in its 14th annual Report Card on Homelessness for Nelson.

Since 1990, B.C. rental costs have increased two-and-a-half times, but the shelter allowance from Income Assistance is still $375 — the same amount it has been since 2007.

People disadvantaged through homelessness and poverty cannot compete, the report noted.

“The lack of housing is a crisis, however, ending homelessness means also providing extra help for people facing complex issues,” a press release on the report noted.

Nelson’s Coordinated Access service brings partners together to support people with multiple needs, even in the absence of housing, the report stated.

“Homelessness and poverty are community-wide responsibilities. We have successes to build on, and we can end homelessness in Nelson if we work together.”

Released last week, the report provides data illustrating the issues and proposes solutions, with housing one of the major themes.

Point in time

The point-in-time (PiT) Service Enumeration found at least 88 people homeless in Nelson on the night of Feb. 1.

“As only those known to service providers were included, this is an undercount,” a report press release stated. “Based on this number, Nelson has the second highest rate of homelessness in British Columbia’s Interior.”

Other data

From the PiT surveys and Coordinated Access by-name list data:

•  60 per cent of people who completed PiT surveys, and 65 per cent of people registered for Coordinated Access had been homeless for six months or longer. This is higher than the rest of B.C.

•  27-30 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are over 55 years of age. This is higher than British Columbia as a whole, which saw 19 per cent of people aged 55 or older.

•  Multiple and co-occurring health issues were common in PiT surveys (e.g. 50 per cent of people who reported a learning disability also reported mental health challenges).

• About one third (32 per cent) of Nelson residents spend more than they can afford on housing.

Source: Nelson Committee on Homelessness

The Nelson Committee on Homelessness (NCOH) is a coalition of service providers, people with lived and living experience of homelessness, and other community members.

NCOH is committed to ending homelessness and poverty in Nelson. NCOH formed in 2001 to bring together diverse sectors and stakeholders seeking solutions, including people with lived expertise.