Housing Security

Housing Security

Having safe and stable housing is essential to address the root causes of homelessness. It is Lookout Housing and Health Society’s vision to transform the lives of people with few, if any, housing options. We go beyond traditional solutions regarding homelessness by fostering growth and change through innovative service delivery and collaborative partnerships. Our goal is to help people move into permanent housing which will support their needs.

Lookout’s clientele includes individuals living with low or no income, people with multiple barriers including: poverty, addictions, disabilities, health and mental health issues, and Aboriginal Peoples struggling with identity and social integration issues. Individuals move along the continuum of housing based on their individual needs and abilities.

Emergency Shelters

Emergency shelters are often the first step in helping people stabilise and avoid or escape homelessness. There will always be life crises that temporarily force people into emergency shelters if they have no other options. However, homelessness should not be viewed as a permanent state, but rather a temporary situation that can be prevented or overcome with more options along the housing continuum, such as adequate supportive, non-market and rental housing.

Al Mitchel 2

Breaking the Cycle

Lookout began to primarily support people in emergency shelters and transitional housing – however, to break the cycle of chronic homelessness we have witnessed over the years, our permanent housing has grown to account for 50% of our housing options.

Lookout’s clientele includes individuals living with low or no income, people with multiple barriers including: poverty, addictions, disabilities, health and mental health issues, and Aboriginal Peoples struggling with identity and social integration issues. We recognize that people become homeless for a variety of reasons, but at its core, people become homeless because they lose their homes.

Causes of Homelessness

An estimated 2,777 people identified as homeless in Metro Vancouver, according to results from the 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, which is a point-in-time count conducted every three years across the region. The 2017 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count identified a total of 3,605 homeless individuals, representing an increase of 30% over a three year period.  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. Substance use and a lack of permanent and stable homes are also significant factors. When asked to provide a reason or reasons why they had no permanent home, 47% of the respondents reported low income, 42% said high rents, addiction was cited by 27% and 21% said no income.

The high cost of housing is especially relevant in Vancouver when compared to other cities in Canada. Metro Vancouver housing prices are considered some of the highest in the country.

Provided Reasons for not having Permanent Housing

  • % of Respondants

Further proof that our higher cost of housing is leading to homelessness is confirmed in the Lookout’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:

Factors Leading to Homelessness by % of Respondents

  • % of Respondants

The Cost of Homelessness

The cost of homelessness to Canadians is estimated at $7 billion annually, according to the 2013 report The State of Homelessness in Canada. The estimate is based on the cost of reacting to homelessness instead of addressing the root causes of it and taking a proactive approach. Canada’s reactionary solutions are expensive, typically involving a greater use of emergency services – law enforcement, courts and prisons, emergency healthcare, longer hospital stays, emergency shelters, etc.

There are also longer term costs associated with chronic homelessness. Those who spend longer periods on the street have a higher likelihood of suffering mental and physical health problems, addictions and disabilities.

Some useful comparisons provided in the report illustrate the higher costs that result from not taking affirmative action. For example, the average monthly cost of housing in facilities and institutions is as follows:

Hospital Bed

$10,900

Provincial Jail

$4,333

Shelter Bed

$1,932

Rent Supplements

$701

Also worth noting is a report conducted by the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction. The 2008 study, Housing and Support for Adults with Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness, estimates B.C. taxpayers yearly contribution to homelessness is $644.3 million.