Homelessness in our Community
More than 235,000 people in Canada experience homelessness in any given year, and 25,000 to 35,000 people may be experiencing homelessness on any given night. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a sharp focus on homelessness in many communities, including Kingston.
2021 Point in Time Count
The latest Point in Time Count was held in April 2021 and the final report was released in September.
Key findings from the 2021 Point In Time Count
- Of the 207 people experiencing homelessness who were counted in 2021, 92%, or 176, agreed to participate in an anonymous survey, compared to 133 or 74% in 2018.
- Approximately 80% of all survey respondents self-identified as experiencing a mental health issue.
- While female homelessness decreased by 15 percent between 2018 (55%) and 2021 (40%), the rate of female homeless in Kingston continues to be higher than the national average at 36%.
- 31% of those experiencing homelessness identify as Indigenous (14% First Nations, 9% Metis, and 8% Indigenous ancestry). However, only 3.4% of the Kingston population is Indigenous.
- 53% of survey respondents indicated that they were youth (under 25) when they first experienced homelessness.
- 4% of respondents indicated that they were veterans, which is comparable to the national number at 4.4%
- 53% of respondents reported that they were homeless because they did not have enough income to afford rent, and 53% because rents were too high to be affordable.
For the 2018 homelessness rural (County of Frontenac) enumeration visit: Cityofkingston.ca/residents/community-services/housing/studies-initiatives
Preventing & Ending Youth Homelessness in KFL&A
Young people account for one in five of the people living in Canada’s homeless shelters. In 2013, this number was even higher in Kingston at one in three.
In five years, that figure returned to the national average in Kingston, thanks to a collective effort by the community. We have seen a dramatic drop in the number of youth who are homeless on the streets of downtown Kingston and more in programs and housing, transitional or permanent. We have prevention programs that divert youth away from shelters and back to their families or allow them to be housed safely.
Through a collective impact initiative facilitated by United Way of KFL&A, it became clear that the root causes of homelessness are complex and require intervention on multiple fronts. And that having more youth accessing our support system was a good thing.
The United Way opted to focus on prevention, providing timely intervention, and building a sustainable network of supportive resources. This approach has ensured that youth homelessness in our community becomes a treatable option, rather than a chronic one.
The reasons youth are homeless is different from adults. The solutions need to also be customized to support youth. More information can be found in the reports:
For more information about United Way’s Youth Homelessness initiative, please visit https://www.unitedwaykfla.ca/youth
Reports on Homelessness in Kingston and Area for all age groups
City of Kingston – Housing – 10-Year Municipal Housing & Homelessness Plan
5 year update – City of Kingston – Housing & Homelessness Committee Agenda Report
2020 City of Kingston Annual Report
City of Kingston Information Report: 2021 Update on Population, Housing and Labour Force
Municipal Housing Strategy
Homelessness Prevention Fund
City of Kingston Homelessness Services
City of Kingston Housing and Homelessness Report 2018
Integrated Care Hub: Needs Assessment 2021
The ICH needs assessment involved consultations with 32 stakeholders who have used/use drugs and/or opioids. It is hoped that the recommendations contained in this report inform collaborative problem solving and
program design across sectors to better current provision of supports to people who use substances by addressing systemic challenges.
In the CMHC release of the 2020 Rental Market Report, it is noted that “2020 was a year like no other”. The vacancy rate across Canada in CMA’s rose to 3.2% from 2% in 2019. Rental rates also increased with rent for a two-bedroom apartment rising from $1,113 in 2019 to $1,165 in 2020. Vacancy rates are generally lower for the most affordable units due to higher competition. These units tend to be smaller (bachelor and one bedroom units).
There are other national trends worthy of mention. Rent arrears increased nationally as a result of the negative impact of the pandemic on renter households and the rental market in Canada. Among all of Canada’s CMA’s, 6.1% of rental units were in arrears, primarily for units with lower rents. Data on rent arrears for smaller CMA’s like Kingston are suppressed and not published.
The turnover rates for units also decreased nationally from 17.3% in 2019 to 14% in 2020. No CMA’s had a significant increase in their turnover rates. The CMA turnover rate in Kingston went from 17.4% in 2019 to 18.2% in 2020 which is not a statistically significant increase. This pattern likely reflects a reluctance of households to search for alternate accommodation and relocate during the pandemic.
The rental vacancy rate in Kingston CMA is now 3.2% and for the first time since 2007 has passed the 3% threshold. The vacancy rate in Kingston now mirrors the provincial vacancy rate also at 3.2%. While this change is in line with other municipalities in Ontario it is difficult to determine if this change can be associated with the pandemic.
Home Base Housing’s Street Outreach Team regularly checks on known individuals experiencing homelessness. If you are experiencing homelessness, or are concerned about a person in need of help please call 613-561-5839 and the Street Outreach Team will be alerted.