File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Bialasiewicz

Survey Reveals Slight Drop In Number Of Windsor Homeless

The results of Windsor’s Point in Time survey of the homeless population reveals a slight decrease from two years ago in the number of people who do not have a place to call home.

The survey in April 2016 showed 201 people were living on Windsor streets at that time. This year’s survey, taken the week of April 16, shows 197 homeless. That is a 2% drop from two years ago, but not insignificant says Jelena Payne, Windsor’s commissioner of community development and health services.

“We feel that we have prevented hundreds of individuals from becoming homeless and finding housing over the past two years through a number of programs and services and investments,” she says. “In our Housing First program, we have housed 180 individuals who were chronically homeless.”

The survey also found that 68% of people experiencing homelessness are men. More than half are between the ages of 25 and 49. About 49% stay in emergency shelters and 24% stay with friends. Another 10% sleep in public spaces.

The top reasons given for being homeless include the lack of affordable housing, joblessness, conflict with family, and addictions. A third of respondents reported substance abuse, 42% said they struggle with their mental health, and 20% had a physical condition.

Downtown Mission CEO Ron Dunn takes a swing at a wall in their new facility to kick off construction and the new capital campaign, June 9, 2016. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Downtown Mission CEO Ron Dunn takes a swing at a wall in their new facility to kick off construction and the new capital campaign, June 9, 2016. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

“What this information does is, it tells us where to make our investments,” says Payne. “It tells us where to focus our strategies, and it tells us where as a community we need to collaborate together.”

In 2016, Payne says community officials found a higher incidence of homelessness among veterans than expected.

“So, city staff and agencies immediately engaged with the Veterans Affairs office to figure out how we address that,” she says. Another example was the hiring of an Indigenous housing advocate at the Can-Am Friendship Centre to help aboriginal people avoid homelessness.

The province now mandates municipalities to conduct a Point in Time survey every two years to help guide provincial and federal policy, as well as efforts at the local level.

The next survey will be in 2020.