Over 600 Downtown Eastside residents are homeless

How many homeless people live in the Downtown Eastside?  According to the official homeless count done last March, on March 11 there were 659 homeless people in the DTES, or 54 % of all the homeless people in Vancouver.  Of these, 276 were in shelters and 383 were on the street or using a service.    According to the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness, which did the count, their method of counting “underestimates the number of homeless people,” so there are really more homeless people than the official count found.

The number of people who are homeless and on the streets in the whole region (not just the DTES) increased by 373% to 2660, according to the March count.  Aboriginal people represent 32 % of homeless people in spite of being only 2% of the regional population.  And Aboriginal women make up 44% of homeless women in the region.

Some other facts:  It costs the government about $33 million a year to maintain homelessness, according to a SFU study it paid for.  The province had a surplus of $2.9 billion in 2007-2008 and a $250 million housing fund that is in a bank.  The federal government had a surplus of $10.2 billion for the same period.  CCAP estimates that there are over 400 vacant rooms in the DTES, enough to shelter all the homeless people found outside of shelters last March.