A homeless advocacy group that conducted another homeless count, says a housing crisis has pushed more and more to the streets or into shaky housing situations. Western News file photo

Numbers aren’t reflecting homeless situation in Penticton

Even with an annual survey, it’s hard to pin down the number of homeless on the streets of Penticton

Even with an annual survey, it’s hard to pin down the number of homeless people on the streets of Penticton.

Despite some hopeful preliminary numbers from the second annual 100 Homes Penticton survey — conducted in Nov. 2017 — homelessness remains a problem for the community.

“This year, we surveyed 101 unique people in the community, of which 80 were experiencing homelessness,” said Tanya Behardien, chair of the 100 Homes Penticton steering committee, while delivering an update to Penticton city council on Tuesday.

But the “registry week” survey, she explained, is only a snapshot of a particular point in time.

“Our best current estimate of people that we have counted and know to be homeless is 163,” said Behardien, noting that is an increase over last year, which set the number at 128.

Related: Homelessness a larger problem than originally thought

That number, 163, is based on people from the latest count, but also the people 100 Homes was already working with.

Behardien also told city council that they helped 57 people find housing, on their way to the group’s goal of finding housing for 100 people by 2020. The number caused Coun. Helena Konanz concern. She questioned if the number of homeless was increasing, even after housing had been found for 57.

“If we’re doing the math here, we’re actually going backwards,” said Konanz.

Behardien said the 57 is based on publicly available records, but their own experience suggests the number of people they’ve helped into housing is higher.

“Part of our discussion is how do we tell that story better,” said Behardien.

Just the number alone, she said, is not the best reflection of what is going on with housing, since it doesn’t include factors like the number of new units coming online.

“We know we need to tell the story a little bit differently about what is happening.”

Related: 2018 may be the year of affordable housing

It’s hard to get exact numbers on the size of the homelessness problem, but Behardien said Penticton is not the only community dealing with the problem.

“I think we’re at a time when many communities would say homelessness is a challenge for them,” she said, explaining that she is hearing similar questions and concerns from peers in other communities.

Related: Council approves a few new low-income units

Overall, Behardien said the 100 Homes concept is working, bringing together community leaders from government, non-profits, faith-based organizations and the business sector to work on housing and support issues.

“There are success stories … individuals that we’ve seen make successful transitions and get to a better place and a different type of housing,” said Behardien. “We’ve also seen success as organizations in our work together and reducing duplications and increasing collaboration, looking at which organizations are best positioned to deliver which resources.

100 Homes has also found funding to add the new position of a housing locator.

“The housing locator will be really key in working with landlords in the private sector and expanding our options in the housing first model,” said Behardien.

Just Posted

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Penticton paramedics busy with overdoses in early 2018

Last week alone saw eight overdose/poisoning calls, nearly matching the entirety of January 2017

Vancouver artist rocks to fight opioid crisis

Jeremy Allingham is set to bring his guitar-focused rock ‘n roll to Kelowna April 6, Vernon June 9

Downtown water main work moving to the night shift

The water main project in downtown Pencticton is expected to be noisy and dusty

B.C. Interior RV Show looking for volunteers

The annual show in Penticton needs volunteer support

New emergency operations centre for Penticton fire

Fire officials say it will take some pressure off the backs of the regional district in emergencies

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Kelowna celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

More than 50 people gathered in Kelowna to bring awareness to diversity and difference

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Most Read