The City of Yellowknife is planning a point-in-time count of homeless people on May 13.
The count will be the first of its kind ever conducted in the city.
Point-in-time counts take a ‘snapshot’ of homelessness by establishing how many people are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, on a given day.
Volunteers in Yellowknife will conduct the count at two locations: the vacant downtown lot on the corner of 50 Street and 50 Avenue, and Flag Pole Park on Old Airport Road, across from the Co-op.
“We want to get to know our homeless population,” said Linda Bussey, the city’s deputy mayor, who also co-chairs the community advisory board on homelessness.
“So we’re inviting them to come out, have lunch with us, listen to music, and answer a short survey – with their consent. We would never do anything without their full consent.
“We need to do this because it will allow us to really have critical information we need, and stakeholders need, so they can offer the programs and services that are required.”
More information: 2015 Point-in-time count on Yellowknife.ca
Bussey says the recent death of Raymond Simpson, a 43-year-old homeless man who may have frozen to death on the city’s streets, highlights the urgent need to improve services in Yellowknife.
“I think it’s very unfortunate what happened. It’s a wake-up call,” Bussey told Moose FM.
“Let’s get moving and let’s do what we need to do, to support the people that need support.”
Point-in-time counts have become an established practice across much of the rest of Canada and North America but, for Yellowknife, this marks a first.
The count – which has been pushed back by two months from its original March date – includes not only homeless people, but those who may be at risk of homelessness in the near future.
Bussey says that could include people “living in an overcrowded apartment or couch-surfing” alongside those without a home.
Volunteers are needed to help with the survey.
City Hall says the commitment involves four hours on the day of the survey itself – Wednesday, May 13 – plus a two-hour training session on either the Saturday or Monday beforehand. The form to sign up is here.