Homelessness in Hamilton on the decline: survey

The Point-in-Time Connection survey of Hamilton's homeless population was conducted in April 2018 and canvassed 338 individuals and 48 families. City of Hamilton

There’s been some significant progress in the fight to end homelessness in Hamilton, according to a new survey.

The Point-in-Time Connection survey canvassed 338 people and 48 families in April and found the number of people without housing has decreased by 25 per cent compared to a similar survey conducted in 2016.

“Many volunteers came back to us and said that they encountered people who declared that they were previously homeless but have since been housed,” said Amanda DiFalco, manager of Homelessness Policy and Programs for the City of Hamilton.

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She added that it’s difficult to pin down the number of people who are homeless because the number is constantly changing, which is why the data collected during these surveys is crucial.

READ MORE: 325 people are homeless in Guelph, Wellington County: survey

The city cites an increase in federal and provincial funding as key factors in reducing the amount of people without housing, as well as implementing a co-ordinated access system to match people with the appropriate services and support, instead of operating on a “first-come, first-service” basis.

Paul Johnson, general manager of the Department of Healthy and Safe Communities for the City of Hamilton, said the data shows improvement but there are still significant challenges to fighting homelessness in the long run, including access to health care.

“The chronic and complex health needs of those who experience homelessness, and are trying to access permanent and appropriate housing, is becoming more and more of a challenge,” said Johnson. “I think the partnerships that we need to develop with health professionals and the health-care system here in Hamilton is evidenced now by the work we’re seeing.”

This year’s survey found that 45 per cent of those surveyed reported having a chronic health condition, which is more than two times higher than the overall Canadian population.

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The Point in Time survey is in support of a national campaign to house 20,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable homeless population by July 1, 2020.

Since Hamilton joined that campaign in 2015, the city and its partners have housed 567 people.

The goal is to provide housing for 257 more people by Dec. 31, 2018.

Details from the survey can be found on the City of Hamilton’s website.

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