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Homeless numbers down in Alberni

There are fewer homeless people in the Alberni Valley than in 2007 but more resources are still needed to deal with the issue, Alberni Valley Community Stakeholder Initiative to End Homlessness spokesperson Myron Jespersen said.

According to Jespersen, there are approximately two homeless people in the Valley today, which is down from 25 that were counted in 2007.

“Today we can identify them and work with them quickly,” Jespersen said.

Jespersen said that the homeless were counted by outreach workers and agencies, who had the best approximation of how many homeless there were.

“When we say homeless, we mean people who were outside sleeping rough,” Jespersen said.

When counts first started in 2007 homeless people were prevalent in doorways, parks and behind old buildings. “Now, we’re not seeing that,” Jespersen said.

Shelter was found for the homeless at the Port Alberni Shelter Society, Phoenix House, and other low barrier facilities.

While the homeless issue has been and continues to he addressed another set of circumstances could have an impact that AVCSI official Patty Edwards finds worrisome.

Low-cost rental housing units are becoming scarce as they are bought up and rents are subsequently raised.

The temporary closure of rooms at the Rusty Anchor Inn has also put the squeeze on the number of low-cost housing units available. “We’re losing affordable housing,” Edwards said.

Affordable housing was defined as housing in which tenants pay only one-third of the income for rent.

The group is working on several homeless initiatives.

One is with landlords to support them, and avoid and or resolve confrontations with tenants.

Another project involves lobbying the city and regional district to adopt bylaw changes that would allow secondary suites.

Housing for youth, families and seniors is still needed, Edwards said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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