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Cities voiced opposition to federally run homeless count, documents show

OTTAWA — The federal government is moving ahead this month with a nationally co-ordinated count of homeless people across Canada, despite opposition from cities worried that the timing would lead to inaccurate results.

The newly launched national point-in-time count marks the first time the federal government has tried to co-ordinate what has largely been a municipally driven project in many parts of the country.

During a national meeting last May, municipalities warned that they wouldn't have enough time to get all the resources in place to count every homeless person in a city or town at a single point in time.

They also expressed concerns that a homeless count in January would skew the results as the cold weather drives more people indoors, obscuring the true number of homeless people in a community.

The details are laid out in a May briefing note to Conservative MP Candice Bergen, who was minister of state for social development at the time. The note was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The 30 communities taking part in the initiative will collect data between now and the end of April on the size and makeup of the homeless population to help local governments plan social services and see what is working, what isn't, and what services are still needed.

The Canadian Press

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