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Provincial Data Shows More Kamloops Residents Falling into Housing Insecurity and Homelessness

Cardboard house cutout

At the September 12, 2023, regular Council meeting, City Council approved a motion requesting analytics from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction regarding individuals travelling to Kamloops to access services. 

Last week, the City received a response from Minister Malcolmson of the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with accompanying data fulfilling this request. The numbers indicate that over the past five years, there have been slightly more people with no fixed address and on income or disability assistance leaving Kamloops than moving to Kamloops. 

Despite this, the data also shows that the number of individuals on income or disability assistance with no fixed address in Kamloops is increasing significantly—between 6% and 26% annually. In 2019, there were 285 individuals with no fixed address, and by August 2023, this number had increased to 479 individuals.

While lacking a fixed address does not necessarily mean that someone is experiencing homelessness, it is a strong indicator that the individual may be insecurely housed, whether staying in a shelter, living on the street or in parks, or potentially among those considered to be “hidden homeless” with no fixed address due to couch surfing or living in a vehicle. 

This data strongly indicates that the increase in homelessness is not due to unhoused individuals coming to Kamloops, but from our own community members falling into homelessness at an increasing rate.

This data is further supported by the 2023 Point-in-Time Count, which identified that only 10% of unhoused respondents had been in Kamloops for less than one year and that 59% of unhoused individuals have either always lived in Kamloops or have been here for more than five years. 

The vast majority of unhoused people struggling on our streets and in our shelters are Kamloops residents.

“Quantifiable data and verifiable information are paramount as we collectively seek a greater understanding of the root issues leading to increasing housing precarity in our city. This is how we will create solutions so that fewer people are pushed to the margins and the broader community understands the path to homelessness for most people who are unhoused in Kamloops,” said Councillor Katie Neustaeter, who brought the motion forward. “I'm thankful to Minister Malcolmson and her staff who transparently supplied the data in a timely way.”

City staff shared the data from the Province with community partner agencies, who confirmed that the data reflects what they are seeing in shelters, social housing, and street-level outreach services that they provide for unhoused individuals.

“I’d like to express my thanks for the continued support and also the openness of City Council and staff to stand alongside support agencies to advocate and find creative solutions to address homelessness in the city of Kamloops,” said Renee Stein, Executive Director of Out of the Cold. “The information acquired will hopefully allow us, as a city, to move forward with appropriate responses and action items instead of myth and finger-pointing. I am encouraged by the data as from this we can work towards change that directly targets the key issues.”

“So often the social sector serving vulnerable individuals can’t readily bring together the data and numbers to tell the story of what we know and see is happening in our community. This is a great example of having access to collective data that allows us to turn our attention to the real issues and ensure targeted solutions, including increasing resources to our local residents,” said Lindsay Lord, Chief Executive Officer of the Connective Support Society – Thompson Okanagan Region.  

“It's enlightening to see evidence suggesting that the rise in homelessness is primarily due to local residents facing difficulties rather than an influx from outside. This perspective is crucial in shaping our approach and strategies for tackling homelessness,” said Alfred Achoba, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association Kamloops. “Many individuals seeking our services have long-standing ties to the community. The increase in homelessness is a complex issue, often intertwined with factors such as mental health challenges, affordability crises, and inadequate support systems.”

“The effort by Councillor Neustaeter and the City of Kamloops in pursuing this is a testament to the tenacity of Council and City staff,” said Bob Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of the ASK Wellness Society. “One of the most troublesome narratives around homelessness can now clearly be put to rest.”

“The data is concerning and it’s very sad to see such significant increases over the years,” said Valerie Janz, Executive Officer of Interior Community Services. “At least now we can hopefully move forward in looking at solutions unrelated to causal falsehoods. We appreciate the efforts to dispel myths and stigmas surrounding homelessness in our community.”

“Information like this is incredibly helpful because it helps The Mustard Seed as an organization and the City build a better picture of the needs in our community and how we can best move forward together to support those individuals who are struggling. We are grateful for the City of Kamloops’ continued work towards addressing homelessness and poverty, and the collaboration between agencies to bring hope to our vulnerable neighbours," said Nyasha Manyanye, Director of Operations of The Mustard Seed Kamloops.

Community partner agencies always make efforts to repatriate unhoused individuals from other communities back to their home communities where supports are identified and it is safe to do so. A quick survey of local social agencies that provide services and supports to unhoused individuals indicates the following:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association Kamloops helped to repatriate 67 individuals in 2022 and 82 individuals in 2023.
  • ASK Wellness Society helped to repatriate 17 people between April 2021 and March 2022, 25 people between April 2022 and March 2023, and 18 people between April 2023 and August 2023.
  • Connective Support Society Kamloops helped to repatriate eight individuals between September 2022 and September 2023.
  • Interior Community Services helped 10 youth return to their home community or to another community to reunite with family in 2023.
  • A Way Home Kamloops helped repatriate four youth in 2023.

The City will continue to collaborate with community partner agencies who are tirelessly working to help Kamloops residents who have fallen through the cracks. We continue to advocate on the community's behalf to help address the root issues that influence homelessness, such as poverty, access to affordable housing, access to health supports, and ongoing discrimination. In addition, the work to identify gaps that exist within systems that support vulnerable populations, including the government care system, mental health and substance use services, and discharge planning for hospitals will continue to be advocated for.

Data Tables Provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

No Fixed Address (NFA) Cases Moving into and out of Kamloops (Monthly Averages)

 

 NFA Cases Moving to KamloopsNFA Cases Moving Out of KamloopsNet NFA Moves
201920191
20201820-2
202122220
202226252
20232528-3

Average Monthly BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) Cases by No Fixed Address Status - Kamloops

 Non-NFA CasesNFA Cases Total BCEA Cases % of Cases who are NFA Growth in NFA Cases 
2019

4,217

285

4,501

6.3%

23.5%

2020

4,440

302

4,743

6.4%

6.1%

2021

4,386

347

4,733

7.3%

14.9%

2022

4,470

437

4,907

8.9%

25.7%

2023

4,520

479

4,999

9.6%

14.0%