Three types

Homelessness: “It is a poverty so deep that even poor‐quality housing is not affordable.”  (Source: Finding Home, Hulchanski, 2009, Homeless Hub)

The homeless comprise 2% of the Canadian population.

The vast majority of Canadians (80%) have a low risk of ever losing access to good housing.

Between these two segments are people (18%) who are currently housed, but they are at risk — they are one paycheque away from losing everything.  Some of these are housed in sub-standard dwellings and would desperately love to upgrade to housing that gives them more dignity.

Canadians who are homeless are 2% of the population.  They divide into three types:

Chronic 10%:

Comprising 10% (of the 2% of Canadians), this segment is the smallest segment, the most visible and the most expensive.

It is often the case that hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours, with addictions acting as the emotional anaesthetics. Addiction causes homelessness for some. For others, addiction is acquired from living on the streets as a way of coping – drugs and alcohol are used as a survival tool, which helps people to stay awake at night to avoid exploitation.

“Shelter beds apparently work for transitional homeless but become a warehouse for those who are chronically homeless.”

“Sometimes sleeping on the streets is safer than being in a crowded emergency shelter.”

(Source: Charity Intelligence, Homeless in Canada, 2009)

Temporary 30%

Wives and kids fleeing abuse;  a parent who loses a job; new arrivals who need time to get settled.   They are typically cared by the system in less than 3 months.  Homelessness for these people is a one-time event, and they will do everything in their power to never return.

Hidden 60%

You see these people all the time and you would never call them homeless, but they are.

  • multiple families who live together in apartments
  • young people who can’t find a job and afford housing;  42% of Canadians in their twenties are still living with family (in 1981 only 27% did)

No one knows how big this segment is, because no one tracks it.  These homeless do not touch the system because they rely on informal support networks.  These homeless just need safe and affordable housing.