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