The Canadian Homelessness Research Network and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness have released a joint study considered to be the first national report card on homelessness. It highlights the current homelessness situation in Canada, explores initiatives that are advancing the reduction of homelessness, and sets out recommendations to continue making improvements. Some of the key findings of the report include:
- 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night (not including hidden homelessness for which no reliable data exists).
- Homelessness costs the Canadian economy $7 billion annually.
- The majority are considered short-term homeless (less than 29 days).
- The sharpest increase in emergency shelter use has been amongst families.
- No significant decline in the number of homeless using shelters, but some progress is being made.
The study highlights progress on Homelessness to date, including:
- In March of this year, the Homelessness Partnering Strategy was renewed by the Government of Canada for five years with a financial commitment of $119 million.
- The success of the Mental Health Commission of Canada housing-first programs shows that the pilot can be adopted to communities across the country.
- Several cities in Alberta have seen considerable reductions in their homeless populations through housing-first initiatives.
The report’s authors attest that there needs to be a policy shift from crisis management to permanent resources. The six recommendations identified in the report speak to these issues, including increasing use of housing-first strategies and making chronic, episodic, and aboriginal homelessness priority issues. The recommendations also include increasing use of data collection tools to assess the depth of the problem in order to measure progress.
For more information, read the complete report on the State of Homelessness in Canada 2013.