In Our Backyard
No one should be homeless in a country with Canada's resources. Yet, across the country, we are witnessing dramatic increases in the number of people with no place to call home.
Homelessness is a serious problem throughout Canada.
You have seen homeless people who live on the street, in parks, in doorways and in other public places. But we rarely see 80 per cent of those without a place to call home - the hidden homeless.
They are the youth, adults, families and seniors who move from friend to friend and relative to relative while looking for affordable housing. They are the adults who live in cars and abandoned buildings in cities and on farms. They sleep in church basements for the winter. They are women who accept housing from a man, even in dangerous situations, rather than freeze on the street. They are children who are put in the care of Children's Aid Societies, because their parents can't afford to care for them. They are the homeless we don't see.
10 facts about the Hidden Homeless
- Every community in Canada has homeless people, even if you don't see them on the street.
- Most homeless people don't live on the street. More than 80% of Canada's homeless are improperly housed or on the verge of eviction. Many are sleeping in temporary beds - with friends or relatives, in church basements, in welfare motels, in abandoned buildings and vehicles, and in other sites away from the public eye.
- About one-in-seven users of shelters across Canada is a child. Compared to children with permanent homes, homeless children suffer more from lack of educational opportunities, infection, obesity, anemia, injuries, burns, developmental delays and incomplete immunization; youth suffer more injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health problems, and pregnancies.
- As women generally earn less than men, women are more vulnerable to becoming homeless.
- Newcomers to the rental housing market, especially young people, immigrants and refugees, are often required to rent housing that they cannot afford. They are often one paycheck away from eviction.
- Many seniors face eviction due to fixed incomes and increased rents and taxes. Ensuring seniors stay adequately and appropriately housed prevents them from being part of the hidden homeless and ending up visibly homeless or in hospitals.
- Our young people also make up the hidden homeless. Many homeless youth are living in shelters or bunking with friends - many are fleeing abusive situations.
- The working poor, often single parents with young children, end up living in crowded housing as they are unable to afford a decent place to live while feeding and clothing their children.
- The hidden homeless are at risk of long-term physical and emotional harm. The longer anyone remains homeless, the greater the social and economic costs.
- As a society we all pay for the tragedy of homelessness.
The preceding information is provided by Raising the Roof, and is used with permission.