Metro Vancouver is launching its first-ever homeless count focused specifically on youth.
The initiative, which covers the entire Metro Vancouver region, began on Wednesday.
The count is separate from Metro Vancouver’s regional homeless count, which has been conducted every three years since 2002. In 2017, that count found 201 homeless children under 19, and another 185 between the ages of 19 and 24.
But those numbers are believed to hide the true extent of the problem, said a Metro Vancouver media release.
“Homeless youth are not the same as homeless adults,” said Lorraine Copas, chair of the Metro Vancouver Homelessness Partnering Strategy Community Advisory Board.
“They are often part of the ‘hidden homeless’ population, which means they are more likely to be couch-surfing than out on the street or in a shelter.”
Over the nine-day count, staff with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association will conduct anonymous surveys with people aged 13 to 24 at youth centres, high-school shelters and youth-serving organizations.
Other youth-serving agencies will partner with the count by holding events where food, transit passes and services are provided while youth participate.
The youth homeless count will wrap on April 12.