Homelessness increased by 20 per cent despite $443 million plan

Despite $443 million in new annual spending aimed to reduce homelessness the number of people without a roof over their head has grown by 20 per cent in Canada, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

The new $443 million was a 374 per cent increase compared to prior spending, but it doesn’t appear to be having the desired effect. “In the latest point in time count published by Infrastructure Canada, the number of homeless people had increased by 20 per cent relative to 2018 reaching 34,270, and we estimate that the number of chronically homeless people had increased by 38 per cent relative to 2018.”

The 20 per cent figure is part of “point in time” counts done across the country that aim to get a rough estimate of the number of people without permanent shelter. The PBO released a study of the government’s homelessness efforts on Wednesday morning after the government launched a new program called Reaching Home in 2018, as part of the Liberals’ broader housing strategy.

The overall goal of the Reaching Home plan was to reduce chronic homelessness, which is defined as someone who has been without a home for at least six months, by 50 per cent. The PBO found the program is likely helping 6,000 people stay off the streets, but to actually hit the government’s target they would have to spend much more.

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