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Courtenay councillor shares thoughts on valley’s homeless issues

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Homelessness is an ongoing issue in the Comox Valley, and that’s been made clear by the Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count.

The report was conducted last March by the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness along with the Homelessness Services Association of BC (HSABC).

It identified 132 people dealing with homelessness in our area, a big jump from 2018, which had 117. 

Courtenay Councillor Doug Hillian took part in the process, and our newsroom had the chance to speak with him.

“I think we have to bear in mind that this is only a rough estimate, and it’s a minual number, It’s quite possible there are more people who are homeless who weren’t actually contacted in the count or who may have declined to speak to those volunteers doing the count.” 

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“Either way, it’s very significant. It’s an ongoing problem that defies our best efforts as a society,” adds Hillian.

When speaking with Councillor Hillian, he provided some insight into the specifics of the report which included 14 percent of those who are homeless are under the age of 25, 17 percent are seniors over 55, and the bulk, about 69 percent, are in between.” 

He also explained that a lot of those who are homeless, have been in the Comox Valley for a long time. 

“We often hear concerns that people who are sleeping rough are from elsewhere and when we look at the survey, 78 percent of those people had been in the community for at least a year and well over half, 55 percent, have been in the community for 10 years or more.”

Hillian says Courtenay, and other municipalities have done their best to combat the ongoing issues which include working with the Coalition to End Homelessness Society, Coop Housing Federation of B.C and B.C Housing, along with other organizations.

He says it’s frustrating to know that people are living in the condition they are and that the ongoing problem not only affects them but everyone in the community. 

Hillian also says in the long run, by providing housing for the valley’s homeless, you would be saving a lot of money. 

“It is a challenge that affects everyone and we know there is a huge economic downside to the level of homelessness that we have and that in fact, we would actually save money as a society if we provided housing for people rather than continuing to spend the money on our court system, our medical system and all the various social supports that are there exacerbated by peoples lack of housing.”

The results of the Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count from the Comox Valley are under review right now but they are expected to be shared later this year.

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