Grim predictions in advance of tonight's Metro Vancouver homeless count

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Number of people accessing homeless shelters on the rise across P.E.I.

A total of 1,200 volunteers will be heading out to the streets, shelters and bush camps around Metro Vancouver tonight and tomorrow, trying to put a number to the area's every increasing homeless population. 

In 2014, the last time the Metro-wide homeless count was conducted, 2,700 people were counted. This year, the number is expected to be much higher.

 "The fact that municipalities have identified 70 encampments for homeless people around the region, it shows the problem, anecdotally, has increased quite a bit," said Kishone Roy, CEO of the B.C. Non Profit Housing Society. "But what we're hoping is these numbers will give us a more firm idea of what we're dealing with."

Roy says this year's count is especially important because of the upcoming provincial election and federal budget. 

Expanding the search

The count consists of two components; a survey of shelters, transition houses, hospitals and corrections facilities and a  street count of those living outside on the street, in doorways, parkades, parks, vehicles and boats.  

"It's hard to anticipate exactly what the numbers will be," said Roy. "We've had a very cold winter so a lot of people have dispersed. We've also had the overdose epidemic, where almost 1,000 people province-wide have died over the past year."

Last year, Vancouver's homeless count revealed the city's homeless population was 1,847, an all-time high. 

And last week, a homelessness task force report presented by Metro Vancouver mayors called on the province to step up and address the crisis across the region. The report estimated there are as many as 4,000 homeless in the region.

The homeless count begins Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT.

With files from Deborah Goble