The provincial and federal housing budget will only house 3% of Vancouver’s homeless population, at best

Should taxpayers keep shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for health, police and social service costs for homeless people? Should homeless people keep dying at about half the age as other BC residents?

If you think the answer to those questions is no, you need to look at the amounts of money that federal and provincial governments are putting into building social housing. When you hear $2.3 billion, it sounds like a lot, but break it down into how many homeless people it will house here in Vancouver and it’s a pittance.

This graphic attached is an attempt to do that for Vancouver. It shows that the Federal and Provincial housing contribution would only house 62 people in Vancouver this year, that is only 3% of the homeless population in 2016.

The calculation is based on federal and provincial government announcements about housing expenditures and the assumption that the City of Vancouver will provide the land to build the housing on, and that the cost of building one unit of housing on city owned land is $200,000.

Its also based on last March’s Vancouver count of 1847 homeless people in the city, the highest count ever. As a point-in-time count, the City says the homeless count is an undercount. They also reported that about 1100 of those people were newly homeless in the last year.

Even if the figures for the number of units that will be built by federal and provincial money are off by double or triple, if Vancouver somehow got more than its share of federal or provincial money than other places in the province, you can see that it would still be a pittance compared to the need.

Why produce this graphic? Voters need to understand the magnitude of the homelessness problem. In the upcoming provincial election we need to demand that our politicians start building the amounts of social housing that we really need.

We also need to demand that they stop churning out more and more homeless people with really low welfare and disability rates, the lowest minimum wage in the country, foster kids who are pushed out on their own at age 19, and rent control regulations with holes in them big enough to push huge rent increases when tenants leave or are pushed out.