A recent count of the homeless population in Vernon suggests the problem could be getting worse.
Figures from the latest homeless census conducted on Oct. 29 were released on Tuesday and show that 161 homeless people were counted in the city.
That’s eight more than were identified in last fall’s census when 153 homeless people were counted, while 144 homeless people were found in the fall of 2016.
Of the 161 homeless people counted this fall, 40 people were seen sleeping outside.
A media release from the city’s social planning council notes that “the census is not a definitive number as it would be easy to miss a few people sleeping outside due to the movement of people who are homeless.”
Around 30 per cent of the homeless people counted in this year’s homeless census agreed to take part in a survey.
The social planning council said almost a third of those who took the survey reported that they had been in foster care and 11 per cent reported they had served in the military.
The survey results also showed half of respondents said they “had grown up in Vernon or had family connections,” while 38 per cent had “lived in Vernon for less than one year.”
The social planning council said that B.C.’s housing crisis and “a record-low vacancy rate” have combined to create the problem.
The council says more housing is needed but notes that dozens of new supportive housing, affordable housing and shelter beds are expected to be ready for occupancy in Vernon over the next year.
“We are hopeful that more announcements will be made soon as our community is well organized, extremely collaborative and continues to apply for more units,” said the council’s media release.