2018 Point in Time Homeless Enumeration Conducted in Windsor-Essex
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2018 Point in Time Homeless Enumeration Conducted in Windsor-Essex

During the week of April 16, 2018, the City of Windsor participated in Ontario’s homeless enumeration, the first provincewide count of its kind in Canada.  The event was coordinated with the Government of Canada’s Point in Time Count and in collaboration with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness’ 20K Homes Campaign Registry Week. The project was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy. 

This was the second Point in Time (PiT) Count in Windsor Essex, with the first count-taking place in 2016.  The 2018 PiT was led by the City of Windsor in partnership with the Homeless Coalition of Windsor-Essex and assisted by over 20 community agencies.

Point in Time project leads address the mediaDebbie Cercone, the Executive Director of Housing and Children’s Services for the City of Windsor says, “Without good data, we simply cannot make the right decisions. By conducting a Point-in-Time count every two years, we will be able to better understand homelessness in Windsor-Essex and measure our progress in achieving our goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2020.”

During this community event, over 200 trained volunteers were deployed throughout the city and county to ensure individuals, families and youth experiencing homelessness received an opportunity to be counted and surveyed.  Over a period of three days, volunteers engaged with people experiencing homelessness in shelters, temporary accommodation and unsheltered locations, such as sidewalks, parks and other public places.

The count offers a “snapshot” of homelessness in Windsor Essex on a single night. The results of the count produced the minimum number of people experiencing unsheltered and sheltered homelessness in our community. 

In addition to the PiT, many of those experiencing homelessness agreed to participate in a housing and support needs survey that can be used to create a portrait of local homelessness that includes an understanding of not just the number of people, but also their needs. This information will provide valuable information that will be used to enhance Windsor-Essex’s By-Names Prioritization List - a centralized list that prioritizes those experiencing chronic homelessness who are most vulnerable and connect them with appropriate supports and services. 

Community agencies across Windsor-Essex are working together toward the goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2020.*  According to the Executive Director of Family Services Windsor-Essex, Joyce Zuk, “The 2018 Point-in-Time Count affirmed what we learned in 2016—that there are about 200 people experiencing homelessness in Windsor-Essex on any given night.  This year, we also focused on getting to know each of these people by name and understanding their individual situations so we can work with our community partners to provide wrap-around and tailored services that best meet the needs of each person.”

Preliminary results from the 2018 Point-in-Time Count in Windsor and Essex County:

  • 197 people experiencing homelessness - a 2% decrease from 2016.
  • 68% of people experiencing homelessness identify as male.
  • 53% of people experiencing homelessness are between the ages of 25 and 49 years old, 27% are under 24 years old, 17% are over 50 years old and 3% are over 65 years old.
  • 5% of those experiencing homelessness are families.
  • 22% of those experiencing homelessness identified as Aboriginal / Indigenous.
  • 56% of respondents are experiencing homelessness for the first time and 46% have been homeless for six months or more.
  • When asked where they most frequently sleep: 49% of respondents stay in emergency shelters, 24% stay with friends or family (i.e. Couch-surfing), 15% other homelessness, 10% were unsheltered (i.e. Slept in park, sidewalk or other public places, and 2% were housed.
  •  When asked what caused the respondents to become homeless, the top 7 most prevalent responses included:
    • Unable to pay rent or eviction
    • Conflict with spouse
    • Addictions or substance use
    • Conflict with parent or guardian
    • Unsafe housing
    • Incarceration
    • Job loss
      **The above numbers are not unique and represent a segment of responses
  • 42% of people experiencing homelessness reported having compromised mental health; 33% of people experiencing homelessness reported having a substance use concern and 20% report a physical health condition.

Kelly Goz Coordinator, Housing Administration and Development for the City of Windsor says, “A more coordinated and collaborative community approach including the implementation of the Windsor Essex Housing Connections housing first program along with additional provincial and federal funding has contributed to the overall progress in addressing homelessness in our community. People cannot get well unless they are stably housed.”

Provided that a quarter of survey respondents identify as youth under the age of 24, a focus on youth homelessness and prevention will need to be undertaken in collaboration with our community partners and stakeholders in the near future, to begin planning and developing a strategy focused on youth homelessness. 

A final report with additional data and analysis from the 2018 Point-in-Time Count will be released later this summer and posted on the City of Windsor’s website (www.citywindsor.ca).

*Chronic homelessness is defined as six or more months of homelessness in any given year.

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