Results from the Nanaimo Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Count released this week show an increasing number of unhoused people on Vancouver Island.

According to the PIT count, the minimum number of homeless people in Nanaimo is 433, but is likely closer to 600.

Of those individuals, 71 per cent said they had lived in the city for more than five years, and had moved there for reasons related to work, school, and family.

A majority (68 per cent) identified as male, and over half were between the ages of 25 to 44.

Indigenous people continue to be disproportionately represented in the city’s homeless population, with a third of those surveyed having First Nations, Metis or Indigenous ancestry.

That figure is a substantial increase from the 2016 PIT Count, when 24 per cent of respondents identified as having Indigenous ancestry.

The report also identified a critical lack of shelter space in Nanaimo, with only 150 spaces available for homeless individuals.

Projects undertaken by the province and BC Housing were identified as current actions being used to address the issue.

Over 300 new affordable homes are being built in Nanaimo, including permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, and a new 60-bed navigation centre with clinical supports was also announced in September.

The PIT Count was conducted in March 2020 by trained volunteers surveying individuals in shelters, short-term housing, and sleeping rough on the streets.