On April 11, 2018, End Homelessness St. John’s (EHSJ) conducted its second biennial Point-in-Time (PiT) Count of the community’s homeless population, titled ‘Everyone Counts’. The initiative, in partnership with Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), provides a snapshot of the minimum number of people experiencing homelessness on a single day in St. John’s. This includes persons staying in emergency, private and transitional shelters; individuals sleeping outside, in their vehicles, or abandoned buildings (e.g., rough sleepers/unsheltered homeless); those temporarily staying at someone else’s place (e.g., couch surfers); or persons in institutions with no permanent or stable housing.
With funding from HPS, the City of St. John’s, and United Way NL, EHSJ conducted its 2018 Count to gain a broader understanding of the nature of homelessness in St. John’s, and included a special focus in this Count on persons experiencing homelessness within the province’s correctional institutions.
The 2018 Count determined that at least 165 people were experiencing homelessness on the night of April 11, 2018, with 9% incarcerated in provincial correctional institutions. As noted, this represents the minimum number of those experiencing homelessness, as many individuals in precarious housing situations are not visibly homeless (i.e., couch surfers, rough sleepers), and are thus undercounted. The Count represents the tip of the iceberg, however: during the course of a year, EHSJ estimates that approximately 800 people experience homelessness in St. John’s2 . The Count also affirms that homelessness is not a choice; while all respondents faced barriers in obtaining housing, not wanting permanent housing was not one of them.