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Group hoping to locate homeless man with Down syndrome reported in Coquitlam

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An advocacy group is asking people in the Coquitlam area to keep their eye out for a homeless man with Down syndrome reportedly living in the area.

Wayne Leslie, CEO of the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, says little is known about the man or the area he frequents, but that they are concerned about his wellbeing.

“Typically, adults with Down syndrome are supported in some shape or fashion, in particular older adults for example are in a group setting,” Leslie said.

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“So to know that someone with Down syndrome, which comes with inherent vulnerabilities, is part of the homeless community and now, as far as we know, missing, is of great concern to us.”

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Leslie said a local service provider has confirmed it has a space for the man if he can be located.

People with Down syndrome are more prone to a variety of medical conditions, including heart and respiratory issues, that put them at greater risk from COVID-19, Leslie said.

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The foundation’s recommendations to the provincial health officer suggest people with Down syndrome are four times as likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 10 times more likely to die if they contract it, according to Leslie.

He said that, coupled with the man’s developmental disability and the already significant risks involved in homelessness put him at significant risk, if he’s living on the street.

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People with Down syndrome tend to be outgoing, he said, meaning someone in the community may know the man or how to find him.

A spokesperson for Coquitlam RCMP said they had no file relating to the man.

They said if anyone encounters him, however, they can call police who can attend to check on his wellbeing and connect him with services.

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