POLITICS

Questions and answers about violence against the homeless in Canada

02/23/2015 04:22 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - Some questions and answers about the homeless and the violence they face in Canada after two men pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the death of Harley Lawrence in Berwick, N.S.:

Q: How many homeless people are in Canada?

A: The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, a Calgary-based advocacy group, estimates in its 2014 State of Homelessness report that 235,000 Canadians experienced homelessness at some point during the year.

Q: How much violence occurs against the homeless?

A: Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, says: "Violence against the homeless is common in Canada. ... We have a lot of work to do in protecting vulnerable Canadians." He cites a survey of 339 people who slept in a shelter or on the street from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 in Waterloo, Ont. It found that 115 of those surveyed — 41 per cent — reported "being a victim of a violent attack since becoming homeless." Almost half of those surveyed said people take their possessions.

Q: Did fundraising efforts increase after Lawrence's death?

A: Since Lawrence's murder, the Annapolis Valley became one of Canada's largest contributors to the Coldest Night of the Year walk. In 2014, the region raised $87,000 for the Open Arms shelter that Lawrence occasionally visited in Kentville, N.S.