Mission’s homeless population has nearly tripled in three years, according to the Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey.
The number of homeless people – defined as persons with no fixed address and no place of their own to rent or stay for 30 days – increased from 63 people in 2017, to 178 in 2020.
The increase was seen in every municipality in the Fraser Valley. The total count for Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope and Boston Bar rose from 606 persons in 2017, to 895 in 2020.
High rent; inadequate supply of affordable, suitable and supportive housing; addiction; mental health issues; and family and relational breakdowns are given as the top reasons for people being homeless in the region.
These issue are “overall trending upwards,” and there is a “need for [a] paradigm shift from emergency shelter to suitable housing and care,” states the Fraser Valley Regional District’s conclusions.
Mission’s entire population make up just over 10 per cent of the entire region, yet the district accounts for 20 per cent of the total homeless population.
|Percentage of regional population compared to percentage of homeless population. Screenshot from Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey.|
Homeless people are, on average, living on the streets for longer periods of time in Mission than any other city in the region. Over 70 per cent of homeless people in Mission have not had a permanent residence in over a year, according to the survey.
|Length of homelessness demographics in the 2020 survey. Screenshot from Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey.|
Mission has more homeless people living outdoors than staying in shelters – 88 people live outside, while 64 stay in shelters. There is emergency-shelter space for 87 persons in the district, almost double the 45 beds available in 2017.
The district also saw an increase in homelessness with older citizens: Almost 19 per cent of the homeless population is over the age of 60, and 49 per cent are between the ages of 40 and 59.
|Age demographics for Mission’s homeless population. Screenshot from Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey.|
Other points of interest in the survey are men making up 73 per cent of the district’s homeless; 30 per cent of the population stating they suffer from mental illness; 19 per cent stating they suffer from physical disabilities, and 12 per cent stating they have an acquired brain injury.
Regionally, Indigenous peoples or those with Indigenous ancestry, make up 22 per cent of the homeless count, while only accounting for four per cent of the Fraser Valley’s total population.
Twenty-six per cent of all the survey’s respondents indicate they had grown up in government care.