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Best Practices for Providers
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Cost of Homelessness
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HRC Feature Articles
Homelessness is an extreme form of poverty characterized by the instability of housing and the inadequacy of income, health care supports and social supports. This definition includes people who are absolutely homeless (those living on the streets, sometimes referred to as "rough sleepers"); shelter dwellers (people staying temporarily in emergency shelters or hostels); the "hidden homeless" (people staying temporarily with friends or family), and others who are described as under housed or "at risk" of homelessness.
When people lose their housing, they often move in temporarily with friends or family, a practice known as "couch surfing". If the option of moving in with friends and/or family is not (or is no longer) available because of weak social capital or a lack of steady income, many people will stay in temporary emergency shelters, or end up absolutely homeless. Emergency shelters exist in medium- and large-sized urban centers, but are not generally ava...
ilable in rural areas and small towns.
If they are able to generate money, people who experience homelessness may rent motel rooms, move into rooming houses, or with friends, temporarily. Others will sleep "rough" in parks, along alleyways, on rooftops, or under bridges. Most people who are homeless move through a variety of temporary and unstable living situations, which makes generating income, maintaining health, keeping safe, nurturing healthy relationships and obtaining permanent housing extremely challenging.
Homelessness, then, is not defined strictly by an absolute lack of shelter (though this is the most obvious manifestation of it), but rather by the intersection of a range of social exclusionary factors that exacerbate poverty, limit opportunities and create barriers to full participation in Canadian society. Real political solutions to homelessness rest not only in addressing the inadequate supply of affordable housing in Canada, but also in improving income security, equitable access to health care supports (including mental health and addictions) and justice, for example.
AUTHOR: Gaetz, Stephen, (2008) Homeless Hub.
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Selected Homelessness Resources
The Invention of Homelessness
From Street to Stability: a Compilation of Findings on the Paths to Homelessness & Its Prevention
Homelessness and Health in Canada: Research Lessons and Priorities
Narratives of Identity: Re-Presentation of Self in People Who Are Homeless.
“A Story I Never Heard Before”: Aboriginal Young Women, Homelessness, and Restoring Connections
Canadian Definition of Homelessness
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SAMHSA Web Site
Homelessness Resource Center Library
SAMHSA Web Site
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Homelessness Resource Center encourages discussion about the future of homelessness services in America. We invite your participation to ensure that a broad range of providers serving those experiencing homelessness are represented.
You will encounter opinions and perspectives from varied sources. These may not reflect the views of Homelessness Resource Center, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Institute on Homelessness and Trauma or any other partner organization.
Be Respectful: We welcome your participation, but any comments that contain vulgar or offensive language, personal attacks, are wildly off-topic or otherwise inappropriate will be removed immediately and the offending party risks losing the ability to participate.
If You See Something Inappropriate, Report It: You may report any comment as inappropriate. Reported comments are immediately removed, pending review, so please report responsibly. The Federal Government and the Institute on Homelessness and Trauma have sole discretion in determining what is and what is not appropriate.
Don’t Include Personal Contact Information: To protect yourself and the privacy of others, please do not include phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or other personally identifying information in your comments. Such material will be removed from the site.
Do Not Request Services: This site is for the exchange of ideas and information regarding service delivery to those experiencing homelessness. It is not an appropriate location to request services or make referrals.
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