“We see everyday people crying in our office…can’t pay for food, can’t pay for hydro, are faced with homelessness. It’s a crisis”. – Shelley Cook, Executive Director, Cowichan Housing Association.
The Cowichan Housing Association has completed a point-in-time count which is a snapshot of the current homeless situation in the Cowichan Valley.
The results of the count are still being analyzed but Shelley Cook, Executive Director of the CHA says that the results will most likely point to one clear outcome.
“What that’s going to demonstrate, I guarantee it is a high level of overlapping complex health and social issues.”
A point-in-time count is a specific way of surveying a population of people who are experiencing homelessness over a period of 24 hours. They provide valuable information for organizations like the CHA to focus their efforts.
Cook also said that this survey helps the CHA understand how homelessness is changing.
“There’s sort of a marked increase in terms of who is out there. So we’re just seeing larger numbers. We’re seeing different people than what we normally saw. We’re seeing seniors, we’re seeing family homelessness. We’re seeing people falling through the cracks at points of transition like never before.”
While this is an issue impacting many areas of the province, Cook says that the Cowichan Valley faces a unique set of challenges.
“We are aging faster than the rest of Canada. So Canada is approaching about 20% of the population being over 65. We’re approaching in areas of the Cowichan Valley 40%. We’re seeing an aging population, so that obviously has an impact on the types of housing and healthcare services needed.”
Cook says that these challenges also point to some of the downstream impacts that an aging population has on the labor force and the economy of the Cowichan Valley.
The results of the point-in-time count will be released in the coming weeks.
For more information on the Cowichan Housing Association and the services they provide, visit their website here.