Saskatoon’s homeless population is growing and getting younger.
That’s according to rough numbers from a recent homeless count done by the United Way of Saskatoon & Area that shows since 2008 the number of children under age 16 living on the street has increased to 78 from 32.
“It’s more than doubled,” said Janice Braden, program manager for the Plan to End Homelessness. “There are families that are finding they have a choice between paying rent (or) eating … so families that chose to buy the groceries, will often end up being evicted—this is the story that we’re hearing.”
The count—done by 130 volunteers who brought surveys to shelters and outdoor areas across the city—shows the homeless population has jumped to 372 in 2012 from 261 in 2008, and Braden says Saskatchewan’s economic boom plays a part in the increase.
“A lot of people are attracted to Saskatoon because of the job opportunities,” she said. “We have this great economy and when they arrive here, they often find work, but the income they make isn’t enough to be able to pay the high rental rates we have now.”
Braden said these numbers will be used to gauge the level of need within the city and will help establish a report outlining the city’s priorities around homelessness.
“Right now, we’re working to develop pilot projects, then we’re seeing what form the plan will take in Saskatoon,” said Braden. “In different cities, it takes different forms.”
A final report on homelessness is expected for November of 2012.
Homeless population in Saskatoon:
- 103 people slept outdoors
- 269 people stayed in shelters, motels or transition housing
- Under 25-years-old: 25.2%
- 25-49-years-old: 49%
- 50-years-old and older: 25.8%
- Men: 62.9%
- Women: 36.4%