Background: The Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy has provided support to 31 communities across Canada to conduct a coordinated Point-in-Time (PiT) Count of the homeless population. The count will provide vital information to participating communities about their homeless population, and contribute to the understanding of homelessness in Canada. It aims to enumerate individuals in a community who are, at a given time, staying in shelters or “sleeping rough” (e.g., on the street, in parks), providing a “snapshot” of homelessness in a community. PiT Counts include a survey that provides communities with information on the characteristics of their homeless population (e.g., age, gender, veteran status, Aboriginal identity). As one of the designated communities, Kelowna’s PiT Count was held on February 24th, 2016.
Methodology: A community strategy was developed in consultation with local stakeholders and homeless-serving agencies. A list of sheltered and unsheltered locations frequented by the homeless population was compiled and categorized using a set of pre-determined guidelines. Teams of trained volunteers led by experienced team leaders (outreach workers from local homeless serving agencies) traveled through designated zones and into emergency shelters to conduct the count and invite individuals to take part in the survey. Additional data (age, gender, Aboriginal identity) on individuals staying in temporary system-supported housing were collected from 12 interim housing locations and 8 institutional care facilities.
Conclusion: The results of the 2016 PiT Count provide a better understanding of the current state of homelessness in Kelowna. These results may be used to provide direction and inform strategic community planning. Further, these findings may act as a benchmark to track changes in the homeless population over time and measure progress in addressing homelessness.