Final results for the Lethbridge 2022 point in time count shows at least 454 people are experiencing homelessness in the city. The count was conducted over six hours on Septemeber 27th, and provides a “snapshot” of homelessness in the community.
Staff and more than 75 volunteers counted and surveyed individuals who were staying in shelters, short term housing or sleeping without shelter. Other forms of homelessness, such as people staying temporarily with friends, are not typically included in the count, according to the city.
“The main increase comes from the number of unsheltered individuals and in terms of the sheltered count, we are seeing a similar number of people from 2018, 2021 and 2022,” says Erin Mason, data and reporting specialist in the community social development department. “What we are seeing in terms of our service providers — this number wasn’t totally unexpected — this was kind of what we heard in the community so the numbers we received align with what we know from the service providers working with these individuals.”
Of the people counted, 52 per cent were unsheltered, 20 per cent were emergency sheltered and 28 per cent were provisionally accommodated. Mason says about 56 per cent of people counted participated in a voluntary survey, which provides insight into ethnicity, age and circumstances surrounding their situation.
The count found Indigenous people were over represented, making up 51 per cent of those experiencing homelessness. Census data shows Indigenous people make up 6.6 per cent of the city’s population. The survey also found the largest age group for people experiencing homelessness was 25–44.
The point in time count is traditionally conducted every two years, but Mason says 2020 was an exception because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2018 count found 223 people experiencing homelessness in the city.
“This data gives us a greater ability to advocate for additional affordable and social housing resources within the City of Lethbridge — it supports our communication with the provincial and federal governments as well to bring in more resources for our community members who are experiencing homelessness,” says Takara Motz, acting general manager for community social development.
Data was collected for the count from various social services agencies, as well as Alberta Health Services, the Justice and Solicitors General’s office and Alberta Community and Social Services.