Counts are a community-level measure of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, helping to provide a national picture of homelessness
Kingston, ON (September 16, 2021) United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington has put together a report based on the results of the Point In Time (PIT) count conducted earlier this year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 PIT Count could not happen and instead took place on April 14, 2021. The bi-annual process typically involves training and deploying volunteers out onto the streets, who conduct face to face surveys with individuals experiencing homelessness. However, because of COVID-19, this year’s count was conducted by staff at agencies and street outreach workers, rather than volunteers.
“We really appreciate the efforts of our local agencies, healthcare partners and local institutions assisting in this count.,” said Bhavana Varma, President and CEO, United Way KFL&A. “PIT Counts are crucial to understand how homelessness has changed since the last count and in this case, how it has been affected by the pandemic as well.”
A higher number of people experiencing homelessness (207) were counted during the 2021 Urban Kingston Point in Time Count, compared to 2018. These numbers are comparable to those of the By-Name List, a real-time registry process now being used by the Housing & Homelessness system in Kingston.
The number of shelter beds were also reduced in 2021 due to capacity restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic for a total of 67, including 6 beds in an overflow shelter, down from 96 in 2018. Additionally, there were hotel rooms available to be accessed for people who needed to isolate. The Integrated Care Hub was also created with approximately 45 spaces for people to rest overnight.
“The data collected in 2021 shows some changes and in particular the impacts of the pandemic on people in vulnerable situations and marginalized individuals in our community,” added Varma, pointing out that 31% of those experiencing homelessness identify as Indigenous. “These results help us identify trends and allow us to plan, enhance, and expand programs to support these individuals. The results will also help inform planning and policy decisions among various organizations and governments going forward.”
The results of the 2021 PIT Count also show that every individual’s path to homelessness is different, an area the United Way KFL&A and the City of Kingston focused on with a recent collaboration; Path Home Kingston aims to help community members understand that the causes of homelessness are complex and different for each individual.
“The Path Home Kingston initiative shows that it’s not possible to see the challenges an individual has faced or what someone’s overcome at a glance,” added Varma. “Real life stories of local residents who have become homeless and tools like the PIT Count really show how complex homelessness is and that there isn’t a simple solution.”
To learn more, visit www.pathhomekingston.com
Key findings from the 2021 Point In Time Count
- Of the 207 people experiencing homelessness who were counted in 2021, 92%, or 176, agreed to participate in an anonymous survey, compared to 133 or 74% in 2018.
- Approximately 80% of all survey respondents self-identified as experiencing a mental health issue.
- While female homelessness decreased by 15 percent between 2018 (55%) and 2021 (40%), the rate of female homeless in Kingston continues to be higher than the national average at 36%.
- 31% of those experiencing homelessness identify as Indigenous (14% First Nations, 9% Metis, and 8% Indigenous ancestry). However, only 3.4% of the Kingston population is Indigenous.
- 53% of survey respondents indicated that they were youth (under 25) when they first experienced homelessness.
- 4% of respondents indicated that they were veterans, which is comparable to the national number at 4.4%
- 53% of respondents reported that they were homeless because they did not have enough income to afford rent, and 53% because rents were too high to be affordable.
To view the full Point In Time Count for 2021 and also view past reports visit https://www.unitedwaykfla.ca/reports/
Note: Data collected from the PIT Count is in addition to the information that the City of Kingston collects through the By Name List https://www.cityofkingston.ca/-/quality-of-city-s-by-name-list-of-homeless-people-recognized-by-built-for-zero-canada
About the Point in Time Count
Funded in part by the federal government’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, a PIT Count helps determine the extent of homelessness in a community on a given night, or at a single point in time. It provides a “snapshot” of the characteristics of a community’s homeless population, to better understand the nature and extent of homelessness to support planning and program delivery to address the issue. When done on more than one occasion, a PIT Count allows communities to assess their progress in reducing homelessness over time.
United Way is responsible for coordinating and conducting the Point in Time (PIT) Count in Kingston. Working with the City of Kingston and agency partners, our community has conducted 4 PIT Counts since 2013.
For more information on the Point in Time Count visit https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/homelessness/resources/point-in-time.html