As more people struggle with affordable housing on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, homeless encampments continue to spread.
According to Alexandra Flynn, Associate professor for the University of British Columbia’s law school, when it comes to getting the data on where these encampments are located, it can be difficult.
“The only thing that we can look to are point-in-time research projects that go out one day during the year and count up how many people are unhoused or live in shelters,” said Flynn.
“There has been an increase. Advocates are noticing an increase in places like Sechelt and Nanaimo, and there has been news reports about them.”
She says the increase in encampments is a direct result of not having enough housing for those who need it, including housing for low-income people.
“That means that they are going outside, sleeping outside, and many are trying not to be seen because if they are seen, they are more vulnerable to being removed from public spaces,” said Flynn.
“People hide inside parks, in areas where they don’t think they will be detected, unused land, under tarps, or away from places to avoid detection.”
In terms of solutions, she says there have been good successes with modular housing, which can go on public lands that are being underused or not used while governments make new, affordable housing.
Other solutions include ensuring that the right to housing is respected by municipalities in the meantime, with services given to those living in encampments.