Number of homeless Aboriginal people, seniors growing in Metro Vancouver: report
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VANCOUVER — Final numbers from Metro Vancouver's latest homeless count show that more Aboriginal people and seniors are living in shelters and on the streets.
The report says about one-third of the 3,506 people counted self-identified as being Indigenous or Aboriginal.
It says that is the highest proportion represented to date and constitutes a "very strong over-representation" compared to the region's total population, where about 2.5 per cent of people identify as being Indigenous or Aboriginal.
The number of homeless seniors in Metro Vancouver has also grown since the last regional count, with people aged 55 and up now accounting for 21 per cent of the total homeless population, up from 18 per cent in 2014.
Metro Vancouver says in a release that the region's affordability crisis is making homelessness worse.
The report says about half of the people surveyed reported high rents as being a barrier to housing, a jump of eight per cent since the last regional count.
Low incomes were also reported as a barrier by about half of respondents, but about 22 per cent of people counted said they were employed either full or part-time.
Mike Clay with the Metro Vancouver Housing Committee says local, provincial and federal governments need to work together to tackle the homelessness crisis.
"In order to stem growing homelessness, it is clear we need more affordable housing options," he said.