The State of Homelessness in Canada 2014

Canada is nearing an important crossroads in our response to homelessness. Since homelessness emerged as a significant problem – in fact, as a crisis – in the 1990s, with the withdrawal of the federal government’s investment in affordable housing, communities have struggled to respond. Declining wages (even minimum wage has not kept up with inflation in any jurisdiction in Canada), reduced benefit levels–including pensions and social assistance – and a shrinking supply of affordable housing have placed more and more Canadians at risk of homelessness. For a small, but significant group of Canadians facing physical and mental health challenges, the lack of housing and supports is driving increases in homelessness.

Prevention measures – such as ‘rent banks’ and ‘energy banks’ that are designed to help people maintain their housing – are not adequate in stemming the flow to homelessness. The result has been an explosion in homelessness as a visible and seemingly ever present problem.

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