Niagara is once again taking part in a coordinated effort to measure homelessness across Canada. Volunteers are needed to conduct Niagara’s coordinated point-in-time homeless count.
In March 2018, a partnership of community agencies and Niagara Region will conduct another point-in-time homeless count. The first count was conducted in 2016.
Organizers are calling the initiative “Niagara Counts” and have launched a volunteer recruitment drive to carry out the count. Over a 24-hour period, trained volunteers will count and survey individuals who are staying in shelters, short-term housing and sleeping rough (without shelter). Niagara Counts will provide a "snapshot" of homelessness in the region.
It will indicate the minimum number of people experiencing homelessness in our community.
Niagara Counts will improve our understanding of the needs and circumstances of the people who are affected by homelessness in our community. The survey will provide us with key data on gender, age, ethnicity, veteran status and more.
Results from the count will be made publicly available and we will use the results of the count to improve our response to homelessness. In the future, successive counts will allow us to measure progress towards our ultimate goal: ending homelessness in Niagara.
In 2016, over 140 volunteers conducted the street count along 28 designated routes and within shelters. The 2016 count identified at least 465 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Niagara.
Since the point-in-time count in 2016, Niagara Region Homelessness Services has increased its investment in Housing First, a supported housing model designed for chronically homeless individuals, for a total of 168 units across the region. It has also secured provincial funding for a new supportive permanent housing program called Home for Good which is also designed to house chronically homeless people and provide them with wraparound supports including mental health services, addictions supports and occupational therapy. These programs are targeted to clients who have long shelter stays or have lived on the streets for a period of time.
Niagara Counts has received support from Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (Employment and Social Development Canada). By the end of April, individuals experiencing homelessness will be enumerated in 30 communities across the country. The coordinated effort will help us to create a picture of homelessness in communities across Canada.
Volunteers can register at www.niagararegion.ca/niagaracounts
For more information:
Daryl Barnhart, APR