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Jamie Harrison

Measuring Brandon's homeless issue

13.04.2018 04:46
By: Frank McGwire

Updated stats compiled via "Pit Count" event

Brandon, MB (CKLQ) - How serious is the homeless issue in Brandon?

It may be worse than most wheat city residents think.

The Brandon Renewal Corporation's Point in time Homeless count measures the scope of the city's homeless issue. 

The event was held in Princess Park Thursday afternoon.

Lonnie Patterson count coordinator with BNRC says numbers from the last count were an eye opener.

"In 2016 we had 140 individuals who had nowhere to call home as well as 34 people under the age of 18," said Patterson.

Ending homelessness in Brandon is a major priority for the BNRC.

The numbers of those homeless can fluctuate on any given day.

Patterson explains how they conduct the count.

"You pick one day and you survey all of the people that you can to identify who exactly is homeless in our community," Patterson said. 

The demographics of Canada's homeless varies however, recent data shows as the severity of the issue increases the ages of those without a place to call home is decreasing.

"The ages do span, it isn't one specific age group but certainly in 2016 we found a higher level of young people struggling to find a place to live," Patterson said.

The causes of homelessness vary as well.

"Homelessness and poverty are both incredibly complex problems and certainly does factor in to people struggling to finding and maintaining a safe home," said Patterson.

Drug dependency is another contributing factor to the homeless issue.

"There are a number of other reasons as to why people wind up homeless and the Pit Count is designed to figure that out," Patterson said.

While the pit count is designed to measure the number of homeless people, Patterson says the information they collect will aid in solving the problem.

"Provincial and federal government are talking about housing plans and housing strategies so hopefully the data that we find locally will help feed into the decision making at those higher levels of government," said Patterson.

Thursday's"Pit Count"at Princess Park offered entertainment, food, wellness opportunities and local suport services for those surveyed.

The data will be analyzed and final numbers will be released soon.