KAMLOOPS – There may be a significant jump in the number of homeless people in Kamloops from years past.
The point-in-time homeless count will be taking place on March 27 and March 28 this year. The 24-hour count will also give the City of Kamloops the opportunity to survey the homeless population to gather information about how it can help.
The last count showed there were about 100 people living rough in the city but Point-in-Time Coordinator, Lisa Bajkov, says the wildfires last year could mean a big jump in those numbers.
“In the past there were approximately 100 people suffering from homelessness, however because we had the wildfires last year, we expect that number to be quite a bit larger this year,” she says.
Bajkov says it’s important for the city to find out if the wildfires did play a role in growing the homeless population. Through the surveys they will conduct during this year's count, they will be able to find that out.
During the 24 hour survey volunteers will enter shelters, count the number of the people that stay in the shelters, and do a street count where trained volunteers walk the streets and count and survey the people they encounter, Bajkov says.
“Participants are usually screened into the survey based on the answers that are given. If somebody has a place to return to they would be automatically screen out of the survey because they wouldn’t be considered homeless.”
The entire project is funded by the federal government so it's done in accordance to the national methodology.
Though the point-in-time committee has to follow questions set forth by the federal government, they are allowed to ask questions related to Kamloops specifically in their survey, Bajkov says.
This year the committee hired an indigenous coordinator to help with the count and the survey that goes along with it.
“Her role is to ensure we see everything through the indigenous lens,” Bajkov says. “Unfortunately indigenous people are highly over represented within the homeless population."
They will be counting people on the streets and places typically uninhabitable for humans, as well as those in shelters, she says. They will be trying to count and survey more people who are the hidden homeless. Those are the people who are couch surfing, or staying with friends or family, but only temporarily and don’t have a home to call their own.
The count of the homeless population allows for the point-in-time committee to do a progress check.
“It gives us the opportunity to track progress over time,” Bajkov says. “We want to make sure we know where service providers and organizations have to allocate their resources. That’s why it’s important to the City of Kamloops."
After the count, the committee will file a report to the federal government based on their survey results.
Bajkov hopes it will reach police makers and program administrators to bring real change to help fight the homelessness problem. They will also file a local report to Kamloops city council.
If you would like to volunteer for the point-in-time homeless count, click here.
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