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Metro Vancouver’s affordability crisis is making homelessness worse across the region, with half of the region’s homeless population saying they had lived here for 10 years or more before finding themselves living on the streets or in shelters, according to a final report of the 2017 Homeless Count.About half of the 3,605 people surveyed during the count cited the high cost of rent and lack of income as primary barriers to housing. Addiction and mental illness were also factors, with 82% of respondents dealing with at least one health condition. About 22% of those surveyed were employed part- or full-time.“In order to stem growing homelessness, it is clear we need more affordable housing options,” said Mike Clay, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Housing Committee. “Our Housing Corporation continues to pursue all avenues available to build more units and we continue to work closely with our counterparts at the provincial and federal level to tackle this crisis.”Overnight on March 7 to 8, 2017, more than 1,200 volunteers fanned out across the region to obtain a 24- hour snapshot of the homeless by walking the streets and visiting shelters to conduct anonymous surveys. This year marks the first time the Homeless Count was held on a night when an emergency weather response was issued.The final report confirms the preliminary results released in April, which found 3,605 were homeless in the region, with the largest populations in Vancouver (2,138), followed by Surrey (605) and Langley (206).An increasing number of seniors were represented, with 556 people 55 and older, or 23%, living on the streets or in shelters, compared with 18% in 2014, continuing an upward trend that has been seen throughout the region since 2008. Homeless youth, meanwhile, saw a slight dip in numbers from 20% in 2014 to 16% of the population in 2017.Aboriginal people continue to be disproportionately affected by homelessness, with 746 living on the streets or in shelters this year, compared with 582 in 2014. Aboriginal people account for 2.5% of Metro Vancouver’s population.“These results solidify what we have said time and time again: homelessness is one of the most pressing issues facing the Aboriginal community here in our region,” said David Wells, Chair, Aboriginal Homeless Steering Committee. “All levels of government need to address this situation, which can be largely attributed to the social, systemic and historical trauma that has affected all Aboriginals.”The 2017 count was carried out by BC Non-Profit Housing Association in partnership with M. Thomson Consulting on behalf of Metro Vancouver, which is the Community Entity under the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), which provided primary funding.The full report provides details on the count methodology, demographics, sources of income, duration of homelessness, first languages, newcomers to Canada, sub-populations, municipal sub-regions as well as barriers that make it difficult to find housing. It can be found here.