This past March there was a point-in-time count of the homeless people in Thompson. The community advisory board for homelessness came together with the University of Manitoba (UM) to do the count, which included verbal consent from individuals, and a short survey.
The count took place on March 4 and 126 individuals were considered homeless, though 229 people were approached by volunteers, who may have approached the same person multiple times.
Just over 37 per cent of the participants were counted on the street, and 62.7 per cent were staying in transitional facilities like 95 Cree Road or the YWCA. Fifty-seven per cent were identified as males and 42.9 per cent as females. Colin Bonnycastle with UM says these gender statistics follow through with national statistics.
The mean age for homeless individuals was 42, and the majority werebetween 35-55 years of age. Almpst 95 per cent identified themselves as aboriginal, and 41.2 per cent said they were chronically homeless, which means they’ve been homeless for six months or more in the past year.
Thirty individuals stated they were homeless in another community, with 67 people saying they came from another community here, and 38 people were born and raised in Thompson.
The homeless count was presented to city council on June 22 by John Donovan, the chairperson for community advistory board for homelessness, and Marleny Bonnycastle and Colin Bonnycastle from UM.
Council members were impressed with how easy the report was to understand. Coun. Blake Ellis noted that the report’s findings speak to the work the City of Thompson is doing with the downtown strategy, and the need for expansion of the housing first model.
Deputy mayor Penny Byer wanted to know where this information would go, and when another count will be held. Donovan explained that there would be a national count happening this upcoming year, potentially in January, and Thompson will be taking part in that, since the federal government is funding the count.
The biggest thing though, Donovan says, is the need for housing, and to get these people off the streets, as per capita Thompson has one of the highest homeless population rates in Canada. “We can keep counting, but we have to do something with these folks day to day. We know who they are. We have no housing. We need to get access to apartments. We’ve got the mentors, we have support for rental subsidies, we’ve got a moving crew, and we need an opportunity to place these people into some housing.”
Out of the 126 interviewed homeless individuals 91.3, or 115 people declared their desire for permanent housing, and 88, or 70.4 per cent were interested in referral.