Kamloops bylaw calls to homeless camps quadrupled so far this year
Kamloops bylaw officers have been called to homeless camps more than 1,200 times within the first three months of this year. That's nearly four times as many calls from last year, according to a City staff report.
Community service officers (bylaw officers) were called to camps 231 times in the first three months of 2021, and 318 in the first three months of 2022. Those calls have increased dramatically to 1,267 during the same period this year.
From January to the end of March this year, bylaws was called a total of 3,423 times. Of those calls, more that a third to homeless encampments.
What's not clear from the statistics is whether there are substantially more encampments in the city or whether residents are inclined to report them to the bylaw department more often.
The department doesn't generally bring an enforcement approach to these camps. They try to advise homeless campers on keeping their areas clean, while encouraging them to use local shelters.
A team comprised of a bylaw officer and and outreach worker have so far connected 230 people with shelters in the first three months of the year, according to the report, but the local homeless population has risen dramatically in the past two years.
There are currently 190 shelter beds available in the city, with 12 dedicated to women only. The last Point in Time count in 2021 surveyed 206 people who are homeless, but a shelter operator told iNFOnews.ca in November that she estimated it's at least doubled since then.
The city oversaw another Point in Time count in April but the results haven't yet been released yet.
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