Homeless women in city double national average
The percentage of women among people who are homeless in Kingston is more than twice the national average, according to a survey conducted earlier this year.
The city’s urban point-in-time homeless count, conducted during a four-hour period in midApril, showed that 152 people were living in different stages of homelessness.
Of those 152 people, 98 agreed to fill out a survey, with 59 of them – 55 per cent – identifying as female. When dependent children were factored in, that percentage jumped to 60 per cent.
Point-in-time counts in other areas of Canada showed an average of 27 per cent of homeless people being female.
Among the homeless who were included in the urban count were 12 families, including 19 children.
The count in the Kingston area earlier this year showed a slight decline in the number of people living outside or in emergency shelters. That decline was offset somewhat by an increase in the number of people without a permanent address or living in transitional housing.
“Homelessness enumeration provides important information to assist in ensuring available funding is directed to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness and will help monitor progress overtime,” Sheldon Laidman, director of housing and social services at the city, said.
The count found 81 people were experiencing “absolute homelessness” and many – 74 per cent – were taking refuge in an emergency shelter, domestic violence shelter or an institution such as a detox centre, hospital or remand centre on the night of the count. About a dozen of the respondents were sleeping outside, in parks, tents or on the streets on the same night, and another eight people were unsure of where they would be sleeping.
Another 59 people were living in transitional housing, and a dozen others were staying at city motels or with friends.
Of the 98 people who agreed to fill out the survey, 86 per cent were sheltered, including 48 per cent who were found in emergency or domestic violence shelters, 40 per cent who were living in transitional housing, seven per cent who were couch surfing and five per cent who were staying at a motel.
The survey also showed that the average age of a homeless person in Kingston was 31, and they were homeless on average 188 days in the past year.
In rural Kingston and Frontenac County, about two-thirds of homeless people were described as “hidden homeless” and were finding shelter with friends or family.
In the rural areas, the homeless population was, on average, older, and males accounted for about 54 per cent of the 61 people who identified as homeless.
About 46 per cent of rural homeless identified as Indigenous, as opposed to 24 per cent in the urban part of Kingston.
In both urban and rural counts, mental illness was cited by about 80 per cent of the people surveyed.