Media Contacts

Ministry of Attorney General

and Responsible for Housing
Media Relations
778 678-1572

BC Housing

Media Relations


Data project uses innovative approach to understand homelessness

The Preventing and Reducing Homelessness Integrated Data Project is a multi-ministry, multi-year initiative that uses provincial data to provide a more comprehensive picture of homelessness in B.C. than has ever before been possible.

The project cross-referenced data from BC Housing, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Ministry of Health to estimate how many people experienced homelessness at any time in 2019. This group of people is called the 2019 homeless cohort.

The data was obtained through the Province’s Data Innovation Program. This data is always anonymized/de-identified to protect privacy. This means that any identifiers, like names and personal health numbers, are removed and replaced by project-specific ID numbers used to link information across data sets.

Key findings from the 2019 Homeless Cohort Integrated Data Project:

  • The project found a total of 23,000 people experienced homelessness at some time in 2019, whether for one day, a short period or longer term.
  • On average, 9,300 unique people experienced homelessness each month.
  • 48% of people experienced chronic homelessness (six months or more).
  • 52% experienced short-term homelessness.
  • Males are over-represented in the 2019 homeless cohort, making up two-thirds of the cohort.
    • Males aged 25 to 54 made up 46% of the entire cohort.
    • Among those over 55, males represented an even larger proportion (77%).  
  • The demographic characteristics of the annual 2019 homeless cohort were similar to the demographic characteristics of the 2018 point-in-time (PiT) count.
  • For example, when compared to the population of B.C., the results highlight that males are over-represented in both homeless populations.
  • The age distribution of the 2019 homeless cohort is also similar to the findings to the PiT count.
  • The largest proportion of people experienced homelessness in larger urban centres: Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley and the Capital Region.
  • Per capita, Fraser-Fort George, Cariboo and Alberni-Clayoquot had the highest proportion of homelessness.

Data used to establish the 2019 homeless cohort:

  • Shelter usage (at least one night) through BC Housing’s Homeless Individuals and Families Information System
  • Income and disability assistance clients listed as “no fixed address” through the BC Employment Assistance program
  • Demographics through the B.C. Medical Services Plan.

Individuals included in the 2019 homeless cohort, at minimum, received income assistance and had no fixed address for three consecutive months, or stayed one night in a BC Housing-affiliated shelter, or had both experiences.

Media Contacts

Ministry of Attorney General

and Responsible for Housing
Media Relations
778 678-1572
Point-in-time counts provide snapshot of homelessness in B.C. communities

The 2020-21 Report on Homeless Counts provides demographic and community-based information about people experiencing homelessness in B.C. The report includes data from 16 provincially funded point-in-time (PiT) counts, six federally funded counts and three independent counts that took place in March 2020 and between March and May 2021.

The Province started funding PiT counts in 2018 and has committed to conduct them every two years. Prior to 2018, local governments in the province had been conducting independent counts since 2002.

2020-21 PiT counts took place in the following communities:

  • Campbell River
  • The Comox Valley
  • Cranbrook
  • Duncan/Cowichan Valley
  • Fort St. John
  • Fraser Valley
  • Greater Victoria
  • Kamloops
  • Kelowna
  • Merritt
  • Metro Vancouver
  • Nanaimo
  • Parksville/Qualicum
  • Penticton
  • Port Alberni
  • Prince George
  • Prince Rupert
  • Quesnel
  • Salt Spring Island
  • Sechelt/Gibsons
  • Smithers
  • Squamish
  • Vernon
  • Williams Lake

PiT counts are typically conducted through in-person canvassing and provide a snapshot of people who are experiencing homelessness in a 24-hour period in a specific community. They are an important tool, but are known to be undercounts.

Key findings from the 2020-21 Report on Homeless Counts:

  • 8,665 people experienced homelessness in 25 communities.
  • 222 children under 19 and accompanied by a parent or guardian were included in the count.
  • 62% were sheltered (meaning they stayed overnight in a homeless shelter or had no fixed address and were staying temporarily in hospitals, jails or detox facilities) and 38% were unsheltered (meaning they stayed outside or in a vehicle, temporarily at someone else’s place and/or used homelessness services).
  • 68% identified as men and 30% as women. A total of 2% self-identified with another gender identity and 3% identified as transgender.
  • 21% were seniors (55+ years of age) and 11% were youth (under 25 years of age).
  • 39% of survey respondents identified as Indigenous. According to the 2016 census, Indigenous Peoples represent 6% of B.C.’s total population.
  • 3% of individuals identified as Black, 2% as Latin American and 2% as South Asian.
  • More than two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents identified an addiction, while 51% identified a mental-health issue. Two-thirds of survey respondents (66%) identified two or more health concerns, while 10% did not identify any health concern.
  • Not enough income (30%) represented the most common reason for housing loss. A total of 22% indicated substance-use issues, 14% indicated a conflict with their landlord, while 14% indicated a conflict with a spouse or partner as a main reason for loss of housing.
  • Almost two-thirds (62%) of survey respondents indicated they had been without a place of their own for one year or more.
  • A total of 46% of respondents indicated they were under 25 years of age the first time they experienced homelessness.
  • Respondents were likely to be long-term members of the community where they were surveyed, with 54% of respondents indicating they had lived in the community for 10 years or more, including those who had always lived in the community.

Media Contacts

Ministry of Attorney General

and Responsible for Housing
Media Relations
778 678-1572