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Causes of Homelessness

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There are an estimated 2,777 people homeless in Metro Vancouver, according to the 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count. While each one of these people has their own story of how they became homeless, there are some common causes.

Poverty and the high cost of housing rank as the leading causes of homelessness. Addiction and no income are also significant factors. When asked to provide a reason or reasons why they had no permanent home, 47 per cent of the respondents reported low income, 42 per cent said high rents, addiction was cited by 27 per cent and 21 per cent said no income.

The high cost of housing is especially relevant in Vancouver, compared to other cities in Canada. A recent cost of living survey conducted by the Economist Magazine found Vancouver to be North America's most expensive city to live in.

Further proof that our expensive housing is leading to homelessness is collaborated in the Lookout Society's 2014-2015 intake interviews of the 5,879 shelter guests. The majority reported a housing crisis and poverty were factors leading to their homelessness:

• 85.6% poverty
• 83.3% housing crisis
• 62.4% substance use
• 42% mental illness
• 42.8% medical needs
• 19% medical needs
• 18% family or relationship breakdown
• 15% abuse/lack of safety
• 15% new immigrant