About solving homelessness

Quick facts

35,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.

13,000-33,000 are chronically or episodically homeless

Homelessness costs the Canadian Economy $7 Billion Annually. This includes not only the cost of emergency shelter, but social services, health care and corrections.

Nearly 1 in 5 households experience extreme housing affordability problems. Meaning that they have low incomes and are spending more than 50% on rent.

Over the past 25 years:

  • Canada's population increased by almost 30%
  • Annual national investment in housing has decreased by over 46%
  • Federal spending on low-income housing (per capita) dropped $115 to $60

*taken from Homeless Hub, the State of Homelessness in Canada 2014. For more facts, please visit http://www.homelesshub.ca/SOHC2014

Ending homelessness

About solving homelessness

Ending homelessness. What does that mean? Does it mean that all emergency shelter beds will no longer be required or that no one will ever experience homelessness again? The answer is no. We know that there can be difficulties in defining an end to homelessness as it is always in a state of flux. However, ending homelessness can mean starting with a significant shift in how we do business. It means that we can move to a more strategic direction that focuses on safe, attainable housing with support for all those in need provided in a way that they choose. It means that we can adjust our approach and our investments so that no person experiencing homelessness will ever have to spend more than 30 days on the streets or in emergency shelter before being successfully re-housed again. (Dejong, Orgcode, 2015)

Homelessness is a solvable issue and the solution to it begins in a home, in a neighbourhood, in our communities. With that belief, we aim at reducing and preventing the experience of homelessness for individuals and families through strong systems based on the shared vision that the solution to homelessness is housing with support.

Historically, it has been the practice that individuals and families experiencing homelessness were expected to address the issues that led to their homelessness such as addiction, trauma, and mental illness before they were housed. A "Housing First" approach shifts the priority to move individuals and families quickly into housing with support, and then begin to work on the issues that contributed to their homelessness from the stability and safety of their own home. A "Housing First" approach assists individuals and families by seeking out the right housing, in the right place, with the right level of support to develop lasting stability. Our work is rooted in the concept that everyone's first and primary need is to obtain stable housing, and that other issues that may affect the household can be addressed once housing is obtained.

Like many other communities London operates largely within a fragmented system in its response to homelessness. How someone receives service depends on where the individual or family enters the service system, what programs are accessed, and the eligibility criteria of different programs. This can lead to an uneven and inefficient response because individuals and families are not necessarily directed to the appropriate programs or services.

Interventions within a homeless prevention system can be based on assessing risk and prioritizing responses. Individuals and families with a low risk of homelessness may receive less intensive interventions while those at higher risk may receive higher focus.

Achieving this transformation requires a phased-in approach to shift from managing homelessness to housing stability. Continuous monitoring and evaluation, priority setting, and improvements will determine how London is shifting towards achieving the vision of reducing and preventing homelessness through a housing stability approach. The continuous evaluation assists in the understanding of what has been accomplished and what efforts are underway by monitoring the progress. The primary focus is monitoring the difference the directions and actions are making on individuals and families and the systems and supports that serve them. (City of London Homeless Prevention System, 2013)

There is no doubt that there are challenges for a community when it shifts its response from one based on 'managing homelessness' to one built on prevention and housing with support. However, dedication from all is needed. We must work across services and sectors, always with the commitment to ENDING HOMELESSNESS in London, Ontario.