National Homeless Estimates
Canada does not conduct a national homeless count but a recent report – The State of Homeless in Canada, published by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and The Homeless Hub – states that at "least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a given year," and 30,000 people are homeless on any given night.
The estimate is likely low. The hidden homeless, those who access temporary but unsecure housing, could number as high as 50,000 on any given night.
Single adult males between the ages of 25 and 55 make up the largest group. They make up 47.5 per cent of the homeless population while youth account for rougly 20 per cent. Other significant groups include aboriginal people and women and families.
Many advocates for the homeless estimate the homeless population between 150,000 and 300,000. The higher figure may be the most accurate. A March 2013 Ipsos Reid poll identified as many as 1.3 million Canadians who had experienced homelessness or extremely insecure housing over the last five years.
Metro Vancouver Homeless Count
An important note to remember with all homeless counts is they are inherently undercounts. Much like an iceberg, we only observe what's visible. An estimated 80% of Canada's homeless are hidden and do not live on the streets or in shelters.
The Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness oversees the regional homeless count, conducted every three years. The last count, done in 2014, showed the number of homeless individuals remained relatively the same between the 2011 count and 2014 but the total number of homeless living in shelters rose dramatically.
For more information on the 2014 count download the complete report: Metro Vancouver Homeless Count 2014 final report.
City of Vancouver Homeless Count
More information can be found in the City of Vancouver's 2013 Homeless Count final report. For comparison, you can also read the City of Vancouver's 2012 Homeless Count report.