Homelessness describes a range of housing and shelter circumstances, from people without any shelter at one end to those insecurely housed at the other. Individuals or families without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means or ability to acquire it are considered homeless.
Homelessness is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless and the experience is generally negative, unpleasant and distressing.
Homelessness encompasses a range of physical living situations:
- Unsheltered or absolutely homeless, ‘living rough’ on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation.
- Emergency Sheltered in overnight shelters for people who are homeless, including shelters for those impacted by family violence.
- Provisionally Accommodated refers to those whose accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure.
At Risk of Homelessness refers to people who are not homeless but whose current economic and/or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards.
It should be noted that for many people homelessness is not a static state but rather a fluid experience, where one’s shelter circumstances and options may shift and change dramatically and frequently.
*From The Homeless Hub – Canadian Definition of Homelessness
This Website is a starting point for those researching or wanting to learn more about homelessness, particularly in Canada. They address definitions, statistics and common myths and questions. They also look at real costs of homelessness. This is an entry point to a vast library of over 30,000 resources.
When you are ready to explore issues in homelessness in more detail, you can view Topics or Solutions. The Education section is great for students and teachers who want to discuss this issue in an elementary or secondary classroom setting.
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR), formerly CARBC, is a network of individuals and groups dedicated to the study of substance use and addiction in support of community-wide efforts to promote health and reduce harm. Our research is used to inform a broad range of projects, reports, publications and initiatives aimed at providing all people in Canada and beyond with access to happier, healthier lives, whether using substances or not. Read more about CISUR.