Downtown Yellowknife, pictured in June 2017. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Yellowknife will take its second snapshot of homelessness in the city over Sunday, April 22 and Monday, April 23.
City officials and volunteers will run a point-in-time homeless count for the second time, following on from a count conducted in 2015.
The count works by surveying individuals staying in shelters, using short-term housing, or sleeping rough, during the days in question. The results are used to give a rough estimate of how many people in the city are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and their needs and circumstances.
The results of the previous count received a mixed reception. The 2015 study identified 139 people affected by homelessness in Yellowknife, which was generally perceived to represent a significant under-representation of the true figure.
“In 2008, the Homelessness Coalition did a report card and over 900 unique individuals accessed a shelter in one year,” the city’s homelessness coordinator, Dayle Hernblad, told Moose FM at the time.
“That’s quite a difference from the 139 in this count. This report gives us a great amount of data and understanding but at the same time it is just the beginning.”
This time, the City says the point-in-time count’s data can be compared to the baseline data it generated in 2015. “In the future, successive counts will allow for the measurement of the progress made towards the ultimate goal of ending homelessness in Yellowknife,” read a statement from City Hall.
Surveys for the count will be taken at the SideDoor Resource Centre, Safe Harbour Day Centre, and YWCA. This year, the study is part of a coordinated effort to conduct similar surveys in more than 60 communities across Canada, using a federally provided template.
Nine months ago, city councillors endorsed a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Yellowknife with an associated price tag of around $113 million. The report’s author suggested that investment would result in longer-term savings through a reduction in related money currently spent on institutions like jails, hospitals, and shelters.