Homelessness in BC

No Place to Call Home - A growing challenge


No place to call home” a human tragedy in a country with so much. Judgment is so easy until one takes a deeper look at the needs of housing for those in our community who have seemingly insurmountable challenges in maintaining a roof over their head. Many truly have no place to call home.


For a growing number of Canadians, being without a home has become a grim reality.  Social experts and governments alike are struggling to understand the nature and scope of this unprecedented trend. While homelessness in Canada traditionally has affected single men, there is now an alarming increase in the number of women, street youth and families with children impacted by the homelessness phenomenon. For some it’s a one time crisis or occasional episode; for others homelessness has become a chronic lifestyle.


There is a rapidly growing segment of people living on our streets, sleeping in door ways, in vehicles or on park benches. Growing numbers panhandle at major intersections and parking lots while others try to eek out a living from alley way dumpsters. What is emerging as a result of significant social changes is a new sector of people who could be called Urban Refugees.


The number of homeless people in the region has more than doubled from 1,121 people in 2002 to 2,660 persons in 2008, an increase of 137%. Most of this increase is in the street homeless population, which has more that tripled over the past five years. There were over 1000 more street homeless counted in 2008 than in 2002. 


Growth in number of homeless since 2002

Number of Homeless




% Change

Sheltered Homeless





Street Homeless





Total Homeless





Results of the 2008 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count



The intraspec.ca website shows the following preliminary results from the 2010 homeless count.  These numbers are for the city of Vancouver only.





% of total


% of total

% Change 2008-2010

Sheltered homeless






Street homeless













This much is certain; People without shelter hurt. People without shelter cannot find work or pay their bills. Their health, hope, spirits and dignity are sapped and life becomes a vicious struggle to survive. Homelessness in its extreme is fatal. Health, hope, food and shelter are the basics of human living. The body requires food to maintain life. A place to call home and find refuge from danger is essential in finding security and safety amidst a world that cannot offer it.


Beyond the physical realm to sustain life, there is a personal success realm that holds the belief that at the end of each day a person will successfully have had their daily needs satisfied. The need for hope, dignity and connectivity to the world around them is often the driving force motivating people to believe that this life is worth dedicating energy to and to build a life upon; a reason to believe one can reach their desired goals or find value in the work they accomplish.


A Daring Mission


More Than a Roof has a bold vision and thoughtful approach to address the needs of the hard to house… one person at a time.  MTR focuses on the Homeless, believing it is more effective to work “With People instead of For People.” This philosophy is core to providing resources and advocacy in areas of community building and life-skills development to assist tenants in building a better life. More Than a Roof provides Hope and Healing through affordable secure housing and community development.


The concept of Bringing People Home means a young single mom can begin to cope with the intense pressures of poverty and parenthood.  Someone living with the terrors of a mental illness can begin to experience dignity, care and friendship. A refugee family fleeing brutal oppression and hardship can experience an unhesitating welcome. The homeless and hungry of the inner city can reclaim their lives to find purpose, meaning and a rightful and productive place in this world 


What We Are Doing


More Than A Roof's communities are designed to help break the cycle of dependency by bringing housing based solutions to the problems caused by poverty, poor health and addictive lifestyles. Along with providing secure affordable housing, we teach people the skills to control their personal finances and pay their housing costs.


Our downtown communities are made possible by the City Of Vancouver donating the land costs of each project, the B.C. government supplying the capital costs and More Than A Roof undertaking a sixty year commitment to provide the management on a not for profit basis as well as bringing our "More Than A Roof " programs and services.


On May 18th, 2007 friends and supporters gathered to celebrate the start of another housing project for low Income urban singles In downtown Vancouver. Construction has begun on an 87-unit, $17.7-million supportive housing development that will help people at risk of homelessness and those recovering from alcohol and drug dependencies.  Read more about 87 Units To Help The Homeless.


We have also started construction on a new 105 unit building under the Provincial Homelessness Initiative.  The building, located on Seymour Street at the south end of Vancouver's downtown, is set to welcome new tenants in the Spring of 2011.  Click here to see Premier Gordon Campbell's announcement of the project.


To see how the City of Vancouver is addressing homelessness, visit them online at their Housing Center.


Copyright © 2018. More Than a Roof Mennonite Housing Society.