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Changes in Homelessness Over the Years

Written by: Lauren Anderson

Edited by: Jacqueline Cheung

Dear CCP readers,

Happy New Year! We hope that you are continuing to ring in 2023, and we hope that you had a great holiday season. Many of us use this time of year to reflect on the past and make resolutions for our present and future. During this season of reflection, we want to demonstrate how the state of homelessness has evolved over the years.

In this blog post, we discuss the changes in homelessness in Canada and how this will affect the future of homelessness. There are many determinants of homelessness, including one’s family and social environment, housing, employment status, health status, and education, that can evolve. A 2014 report on the state of homelessness stated that 35,000 Canadians a year and around 5,000 Canadians a day experience homelessness. Since the 1980s, homelessness has become a mass social problem in Canada. The increase in people facing homelessness can be greatly attributed to the history of government funding for housing changes throughout the past few decades. In this blog post, we discuss the history of homelessness, housing solutions, and moving forward, what changes can be made to provide preventive solutions to homelessness.

If you would like to learn more information regarding the current state of homelessness in Canada and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), welcome! If you are returning for more information about the particular challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and those with animal companions, welcome back! If you are new to our blog, welcome to the community, and thank you for your interest in learning more about issues regarding the homelessness crisis in Canada and beyond - you are one step closer to becoming a changemaker in your community, and you are in great company.

History of Homelessness in Canada

The amount of people facing homelessness in developing countries has been increasing over time. It’s helpful for us to understand the timeline of these changes to better understand the ‘why’ behind homelessness and how we can suggest changes to policies for better prevention against homelessness. The timeline we discuss in this blog post is derived from The Canadian Encyclopedia.


*Image created by Canadian Courage Project, but information sourced from The Canadian Encyclopedia.

The timeline of changes across four decades demonstrates the impact that federal funding for housing specifically has on the state of homelessness. There was a large increase in unhoused people during the 1980s in Canada due to the progressive decrease in federal funding. Since the 1980s, the Canadian population increased by 30% and the unhoused population continues to increase as well. National spending and investments in low-income housing have dropped by over 46% per capita over this same period. As the population grows, there is an evident decrease in social and economic policy measures to provide more security for housing for our homeless population.

The demographics of the homeless population have changed over time, which is also notable and helpful for developing preventable solutions to the current climate of homelessness. In the past, the majority of the homeless population in Canada was older, single men, but the homeless population is now more diverse, including more women, families, and youth. For more demographic information please refer to the graphic below.





The common issue we discovered through our research is that prevention is the best measure against the issue of homelessness, which is what was working in favor of protecting homelessness from becoming the mass social problem that it became after 1980. We can learn from this mistake by encouraging further prevention of homelessness by encouraging our local government and policymakers to increase housing funding and leaning on private organizations as well.

Housing Solutions

One of the biggest issues that people facing homelessness deal with is a lack of safe and secure housing. In this case, finding housing solutions is the first step in combating the increasing levels of homelessness. There are a few solutions that we discovered that align with the mission of the CCP:

  1. Prioritizing finding housing for youth is key.

  2. Major financial investment is needed to provide more low-income housing.

  3. Affordable housing tax credit.

  4. Working hand-in-hand with community partners, such as A Way Home and Housing First for Youth.

Organizations such as A Way Home and Housing First for Youth are working towards finding specific solutions for youth facing homelessness. Both of these organizations focus on prevention and partnerships that will have an impact on policy planning and implementation of social programs. In terms of financial investment, it has been recommended to increase investment to around 88 cents per week (bringing this to a total of $2.04 per Canadian) to provide a reasonable solution for the affordable housing crisis. These numbers are important because they demonstrate how little money it would cost to the fuller picture of providing solutions to ending homelessness. Aside from financial investments, each of the above housing solutions is necessary to solve the problem in the state that it is now.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, we hope to continue raising awareness on matters relating to homelessness and working with more community partners to mobilize for good. While our organization does not specifically focus on housing, we partner with various shelters for people facing homelessness, and we are passionate about advocating for youth. We encourage more research and programming dedicated to finding housing and providing education to youth facing homelessness, and we hope to continue to find methods to prevent homelessness in the future.


Sources

  1. About a way home Canada. A Way Home Canada. (2022, April 22). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://awayhome.ca/about-a-way-home-canada/

  2. Canada, D. of F. (2022, April 7). Making housing more affordable. Canada.ca. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2022/04/making-housing-more-affordable.html

  3. Homelesshub. (2019, October 21). This is housing first for youth. A Way Home Canada. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://awayhome.ca/2017/10/12/this-is-housing-first-for-youth/\

  4. Homelessness in Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/homelessness-in-canada#:~:text=The%20word%20%E2%80%9Chomelessness%E2%80%9D%20was%20not%20used%20to%20describe,policies%20and%20programs%20in%20place%20to%20address%20it.

  5. Infographic: Homelessness in Canada by the numbers. Infographic: Homelessness in Canada by the Numbers | The Homeless Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/infographic-homelessness-canada-numbers




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