Youth Homeless Count uncovers hidden problem

By Tanya Cronin
May 10, 2018 - 4:20pm Updated: May 10, 2018 - 6:01pm

KAMLOOPS — Thursday marks the last day of the Youth Homeless Count in Kamloops, and volunteers are anticipating an increase in the number of young people without a stable roof over their heads.

For the third straight day, organizers with the A Way Home Program hit the streets, parkades and riverbanks again, surveying individuals between the ages of 13 and 24, in an effort to identify whether they are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. A Way Home conducted the country's first youth-specific count in October of 2016.

"In our count last year we identified 129 youth who had experienced homelessness with 56 of these kids homeless the week of October 12 to 21, this year we're enacting really different methodology, so we've partnered with the school district and every Grade 10 student in the entire district will be completing the survey as part of their curriculum, that will help us identify youth that are experiencing housing and security so we can respond and intervene before their life trajectory goes down a road where they're living on the streets here," says Katherine McParland 

During the spring and summer months, homelessness is more visible because of the nicer weather, and there seems to be less couch surfing. The focus of this particular count is to uncover the hidden problem of youth homelessness. The numbers will be tallied and made public by the end of May or early June.    

"We have 40 different organizations including Interior Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development and Community Corrections that have also integrated the survey into their daily practice, so if youth are connected to services they'll be asked to complete the survey, the street count today is really to help identify youth who may be experiencing street homelessness and not have any support at all," says McParland.  

Kamloops unemployment rate nearly the same year-over-year