I've been doing a bit of research about homelessness in Canada and I thought I'd share some info with you all. I'm not going to go too far into it because I want to encourage you all to do research of your own and increase your knowledge and understanding of this issue. Thanks to http://intraspec.ca/homelessCanada.php for the information.
There isn't just one definition of homeless in Canada. There are two important facets of homelessness: the specific housing situation and the duration and/or frequency of homeless episodes.
The housing situations can be broken into three categories:
- At one end, absolute homelessness is a narrow concept that includes only those living on the street or in emergency shelters.
- Hidden or concealed homelessness is in the middle of the continuum. These include people without a place of their own who live in a car, with family or friends, or in a long-term institution.
- At the other end of the continuum, relative homelessness is a broad category that includes those who are housed but who reside in substandard shelter and/or who may be at risk of losing their homes.
The duration and/or frequency can also be broken into three categories:
- Chronic homelessness, long-term or repeated homelessness, often experienced by those with chronic illness or addiction problems.
- Cyclical homelessness, resulting from a change of circumstance, for example having been released from an institution.
- Temporary homelessness, relatively short in duration, sometimes caused by natural disasters or a house fire.
There is no accurate statistic of how many homeless people there are in Canada, despite the visibility of homelessness, however there are an estimated 150,000 to up to 300,000 people living in shelters or on the streets. Approximately 65,000 of those people are young people. On any given night, 40,000 people stay in homeless shelters.
The largest demographic of homeless people in most Canadian cities are single men, but homelessness is rising among both single women and lone-parent families headed by women. Families with children living in poverty, street youth, Aboriginal persons, persons with mental illness, the working poor, and new immigrants are disproportionately reflected in the homeless population. To add to this, basically all of the homeless people I've seen this week have been men.
There are many causes of homelessness, including insufficient affordable housing and housing supply, low income, the gap between income and affordability, mental health and/or substance abuse issues, family conflict, violence, job loss, breakdown, and inadequate discharge planning (ex-offenders, mentally ill persons, and persons leaving the care of the child welfare system).
I think I'm going to leave it at that for now. I might add some more information later in the week. If you are interested in learning more, please let me know and I can help you find out more. Also, feel free to post anything you may know about homelessness in the comment area.