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June 26, 2021

Homelessness an issue in Canada

HomelessWe should all be very grateful to have a roof over our heads.

My dad said that to me once, even though it was our car that we were living in.

Believe it or not, 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness every year.

A new report, The State of Homelessness in Canada 2013, found that homelessness costs the Canadian economy over $7 billion annually including the costs of health care, the criminal justice system, social services and the use of emergency shelters.

The report also revealed that 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night with 2,880 living in cars, parks or on the street; 14.440 staying in emergency shelters; 7,350 at women's shelters; and 4,464 homeless either in hospitals, prisons or interim housing.

For most people, homelessness is a short, one-time experience. However, 4,000 to 8,000 encounter long-term homelessness and another 6,000 to 22,000 find themselves homeless repeatedly over their lifetime.

So who are the homeless and why are they homeless?

The report notes that homelessness can affect anyone. However, some groups of people are at higher risk than others.

Single adult males aged 25 to 55 account for almost half the homeless population in Canada, according to statistics.

Other high-risk groups identified in the report include youth, Aboriginal Peoples, and women and families due to violence and/or poverty.

Stephen Gaetz, Director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network and a York University Professor, says, "The State of Homelessness provides a starting point to inform the development of a consistent, evidence-based approach towards ending homelessness."

Tim Richter, President and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness adds, "The State of Homelessness also highlights where there has been some meaningful progress in Canada that proves homelessness is not an intractable problem.

"Homelessness can be solved and we have some excellent Canadian examples to follow."

Some of these examples from across the country include Vancouver's 66 per cent reduction in street homelessness since 2008; Edmonton's 30 per cent reduction in overall homelessness since 2008; Toronto's 51 per cent decrease in homelessness since 2006; Fredericton's 30 per cent reduction in emergency shelter use; and the Mental Health Commission of Canada At Home/Chez Soi Housing First project in five Canadian cities.

Some of the recommendations coming out of the report include: 

- Communities should develop and implement clear plans to end homelessness, supported by all levels of government;

- All levels of government must work to increase the supply of affordable housing;

- Communities and all levels of government should embrace Housing First initiative

- Prioritizing eliminating chronic and episodic homelessness

- Ending Aboriginal homelessness should be prioritized as both a distinct category of action and part of the overall strategy;

- Introduce more comprehensive data collection, performance monitoring, analysis and research.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

What do you think can be done in the fight against homelessness?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...