“The problem of homelessness and housing exclusion refers to the failure of society to ensure that adequate systems, funding and support are in place so that all people, even in crisis situations, have access to housing.”


Homelessness is a multifaceted problem; it encompasses more than individuals who are “sleeping rough” (on the streets, in parks) and people who are staying at emergency shelters.

According to the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN): “homelessness describes the situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it” and because the term homelessness “encompasses a range of physical living situations” they lay out a typology, which includes:

1) Unsheltered, or absolutely homeless and living on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation;

2) Emergency Sheltered, including those staying in overnight shelters for people who are homeless, as well as shelters for those impacted by family violence;

3) Provisionally Accommodated, referring to those whose accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure, and finally;

4) At Risk of Homelessness, referring 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.

For the complete Canadian definition of homelessness click here.


Check out the most recent State of Homelessness in Canada report here.


‘Housing First’ is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed. The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions issues as it is for anyone. Housing is provided first and then supports are provided including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections.  To learn more about Housing First, visit the Homeless Hub’s Housing First Page.

At Home/Chez Soi was a national project that examined Housing First as a means of ending homelessness for people living with mental illness in Canada. The project followed more than 2,000 participants for two years, and was the world’s largest trial of Housing First, with demonstration sites in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, and Moncton.  You can find the final report here.
Housing First in Canada: Supporting Communities to End Homelessness is the first book that examines how this approach has been applied in Canada. The book begins with a framework for Housing First that explains the core principles of the approach, as well as how it works in practice. You can download the book for free here.

If you would like to learn more about homelessness in Canada, be sure to check out the Homeless Hub and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness website!

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