KAMLOOPS — There are all sorts of reasons, but it would appear that the fight to help the homeless isn't going to end anytime soon. The results of this year's point-in-time homeless count are in, and the numbers are about the same as they have been over the past couple of years. Of the 100 homeless people found in the mid-October count, 75 percent had been in Kamloops for a year or more, 76 percent gave financial hardship as a reason for being homeless, 32 percent blamed substance abuse, and 33 percent said disability benefits were their only source of income.
Project Coordinator Brad Serl says it points out the necessity of continued action to fight the problem."One of our questions this year was 'did you move to Kamloops in the past year' and 75% of the people that answered said 'no' so these people have been around for awhile."
Serl says the data may be skewed because of the time of year the survey was taken. "One of the things that could factor into this, though, is that since we did this in mid-October perhaps people who are more transient may have moved on to warmer pastures by that time already, but that's just a guess. We don't have any data to back that up."
Serl says the data shows life expectancy of people found among the homeless here is well below the life expectancy of those who have their basic needs met. He says "it was the most troubling finding for me. If we look at our respondents, and again this is a small sample size, but when we interviewed our people the oldest male that we found was around 64 years old and the oldest female that we found was 54 years old. When we look at the provincial life expectancies, it's 80 for men and 85 for women." Serle says if further data supports this survey, homeless men are dying 15 years before they should, and women 30 years before they should. "That's shocking."
Data from the survey will be provided to various groups in Kamloops who deal with these problems. Serl says these providers, like the United Way, Ask Wellness, Elizabeth Fry and CMHA, will then be able to use the data to target services specifically for these people.
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