BC’s Poverty Reduction Minister is sheddning some light on why Cranbrook will be one of 12 locations for a homeless count.
The province announced Monday they will gather information in a dozen communities to help inform its Homelessness Action Plan that is expected to be released later this year.
Vancouver – Hastings MLA Shane Simpson explains they decided to focus on these areas based on current projects and consultation.
“There are a number of municipalities and regions across British Columbia that do homeless counts. The federal government also participates in supporting counts in six communities,” says the New Democrat. “We decided that we wanted to be able to get a provincial count and a much better scope of the province.”
Simpson says in addition to other projects, the province will have data representing 85 per cent of B.C. following their effort.
“What key areas, regions, communities, if we captured them, would help us to get a much better picture of the province?” Simpson suggests. “And Cranbrook is obviously one of those key communities in the region.”
Simpson insists homelessness is a growing and complex issue and it would be a mistake to have the same approach to homelessness in the Lower Mainland and the East Kootenay.
“I don’t believe there’s a cookie-cutter approach that you can say what works in Vancounver is going to work in Cranbrook,” he says.
“There are two larges strains of homelessness. There are people who are homeless because they simply don’t have enough money to afford to a place to life. There’s another group of people who have complex issues. They could be mental health issues, addiction issues.”
Simpson says those two groups require different types of support.
He adds there’s also differences between young people and seniors – a growing demographic according to Simpson.
“So, we’re trying to get a better understanding of the difference groups of people and the complexity of their issues,” he reasons. “The other reality is different communities have different levels of services they can bring to bare. So all of those things we be part of the solution.”
– BC’s Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister