More homeless people leave Kamloops than arrive: provincial data | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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More homeless people leave Kamloops than arrive: provincial data

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The homeless population in Kamloops has been on a steady increase over the past five years, but data from the province suggests it's a local problem.

While there were almost twice as many homeless people in Kamloops since 2019, the provincial government has recorded more leaving the city than moving in.

That comes from provincial government statistics, tracking the flow of people without a fixed address on government assistance.

The City of Kamloops released those figures at a council meeting yesterday, Feb. 6.

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"That tells us that the increase in homelessness in our community is due to Kamloopsians falling through the cracks," Carmin Mazzotta, social development manager for the City, told council.

The Ministry of Social Development provided those numbers as the City aimed to put to rest an urban myth that suggests homeless people are sent to the city by bus.

Mazzotta said the figures are not a perfect census on who is or isn't homeless in Kamloops, but it's a "strong indicator."

The figures weren't high with around 22 people moving into Kamloops without a fixed address each year from 2019 to 2023. There were just slightly more that left the city in each of those years with the province suggesting there were two fewer people in Kamloops by 2023.

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The amount of people without a fixed address has grown from 285 in 2019 to 479 in 2023, according to the City.

City staff have shared the data with local non-profits that work with the homeless population. They found the data reflects what they've found in shelters and on the streets.

“One of the most troublesome narratives around homelessness can now clearly be put to rest," ASK Wellness CEO Bob Hughes said.

The no-fixed-address figures do not account for people who are on social assistance living in other social housing, so the amount of people non-profits help move back to their home communities is much greater than the figures provided by the province.

Canadian Mental Health Association Kamloops helped "repatriate" more than any other non-profit in the city with 67 people in 2022 and 82 in 2023, the City said.

ASK Wellness, Connective Support Society, Interior Community Services and A Way Home Kamloops also helped people return to their home cities.

The City asked for the data in October 2023 and the ministry provided it earlier this month.

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