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Eight years ago, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness in his city by 2015.

Yet on just one cold evening last month, 36 people seeking a bed in emergency shelters run by Union Gospel Mission were turned away, facing shivering in a doorway or on a park bench.

The mission’s Jeremy Hunka says its maxed-out shelters have been forced to turn away 1,545 people in the first nine months of this year – almost 25 per more than last year. “That hits you in the heart,” he said.

In fact, Vancouver homelessness is at record levels.

And the picture is not much different across the rest of British Columbia. As many as 15,000 people are without homes in the province. And homeless deaths spiked 70 per cent in the last reported year.

With more than 10,000 individuals and families waiting for a place in B.C. Housing, we decided it was time to look at what governments could do right away, before slow-to-appear new housing finally gets built. We’ll discover policies that have significantly reduced chronic homelessness elsewhere, ways to keep people from becoming homeless to start with, and more.

There are few easy answers, and solutions are beyond the power of a municipal government, as Robertson painfully learned. Reducing homelessness requires coordinated action from all levels of government, with the support of communities and citizens.

Our project will take a fresh look at the problem, sharing bold experiments and the brightest ideas in Canada and from beyond our borders.

It all starts today. To read Part 1 of the series, Download the Megaphone App to find a vendor. Every purchase supports meaningful work for people experiencing poverty.


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