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Individuals of First Nation, Inuit & Metis descent are dramatically overrepresented in Canada’s homeless population
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Source: Raising the Roof

Fast Facts on Homelessness

General Homeless Population

Who are Canada’s Homeless?

A report by the Canadian Homelessness Research Network and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 200,000 individuals, youth and families experience homelessness per year (Gaetz, Donaldson, Richter & Gulliver, 2013).

30,000 Canadians experience homelessness on any given night, and as many as 50,000 make up the ‘hidden’ homelessness (‘couch-surfers’ or individuals who stay with family, friends, or others because they have nowhere else to go) (Gaetz, Donaldson, Richter & Gulliver, 2013).

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy report that in 2009, 147,000 unique individuals stayed in an emergency shelter. This number does not reflect the thousands of families staying in violence against women (VAW) shelters (Segaert, 2012).

Approximately 20% of the homeless population are young people between the ages of 16-24 (Gaetz, Donaldson, Richter & Gulliver, 2013).

Several studies have found that youth experiencing homelessness have disproportionately been involved in child protection services or foster care in their lives. This number ranges from close to 30% to 49% (Clarke & Cooper, 2000; Leslie & Hare, 2000; McCarthy, 1995; Kaus & Dowling, 2003; Raising the Roof, 2009; Gaetz et al. 2010).

Individuals of First Nation, Inuit and Metis descent are dramatically overrepresented in Canada’s homeless population; in large urban areas new Canadians, particularly those of colour, are increasingly vulnerable to experiencing homelessness

The average life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness in Canada is 39 years (Trypuc & Robinson, 2009).

Contrary to popular misconception, schizophrenia is only present in approximately 6% of Toronto’s homeless population (Frankish, Hwang, & Quantz, 2005).

Homelessness costs the Canadian economy $7 Billion each year – not only through emergency accommodations but also through the use of social services, health care, and corrections (Gaetz, 2012)

Housing First has emerged as a best practice for providing housing for individuals with mental health and addiction concerns, and has been extended across Canada to other populations. Housing First has been shown to be successful in housing retention, reducing unnecessary emergency room and hospital visits, reducing criminal justice involvement, and improving the quality of life for residents (including reductions in health and mental-health related symptoms and addictions) (Gaetz, Scott & Gulliver, 2013).

Overall, Canada’s response to homelessness remains based on emergency accommodations and an uncoordinated use of public systems and services. There is much more work to be done in prevention – or preventing homelessness from occurring in the first place.

* Read the full article here. 

• Economic, Social and Cultural Rights   • Housing Alternatives   • Housing and Land Rights / Right to Adequate Housing   

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