Homeless in Canada

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National Right To Housing Strategy Act - Draft Legislation

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Draft legislation prepared by legal scholars and civil society experts that offers suggestions on how the right to housing could be incorporated into the proposed National Housing Strategy legislation, consistent with international human rights law, and including mechanisms through which people affected by homelessness and inadequate housing can bring complaints about systemic violations and require the government to respond.
Categories: Housing

Open Letter on the Right to Housing

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
At a press conference in Ottawa on August 14, advocates released an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed by over 170 organizations and prominent Canadians urging the Prime Minister to make good on his commitment to the right to housing by enshrining that right in upcoming National Housing Strategy legislation. The letter was penned by Amnesty International Canada, Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty in Canada, Canada Without Poverty, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, housing and homelessness researcher Emily Paradis, and the Social Rights Advocacy Centre. Supported by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, the letter outlines key requirements of right to housing legislation consistent with international human rights law. The letter also refers to draft legislation prepared by legal scholars and civil society experts that offers suggestions on how the right to housing could be incorporated into the proposed National Housing Strategy legislation, consistent with international human rights law, and including mechanisms through which people affected by homelessness and inadequate housing can bring complaints about systemic violations and require the government to respond.
Categories: Housing

Addressing Intersecting Housing and Overdose Crises in Vancouver, Canada: Opportunities and Challenges from a Tenant-Led Overdose Response Intervention in Single Room Occupancy Hotels

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
We examined the acceptability, feasibility, and implementation of the Tenant Overdose Response Organizers program (TORO)—a tenant-led naloxone training and distribution intervention. This pilot project was implemented in privately owned single room occupancy (SRO) hotels that were disproportionately affected by overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighborhood. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 tenants who had participated in a TORO training session and administered naloxone to someone in their SRO hotel or had overdosed in their SRO hotel and received naloxone from another tenant. Focus groups were conducted with 15 peer workers who led the TORO program in their SRO building. Interviews and focus groups were transcribed and analyzed thematically. Ethnographic observation at SRO hotels involved in the intervention was also co-led with peer research assistants. Ten SROs were included in the study. The level of acceptability of the TORO program was high, with participants describing the urgency for an intervention amid the frequency of overdoses in their buildings. Overdose response training enhanced participants’ knowledge and skills, and provided them a sense of recognition. Additionally, the TORO program was feasible in some buildings more than others. While it provided important training and engaged isolated tenants, there were structural barriers to program feasibility. The implementation of the TORO program was met with some successes in terms of its reach and community development, but participants also discussed a lack of emotional support due to overdose frequency, leading to burnout and vulnerability. Our findings suggest that the TORO program was affected by social, structural, and physical environmental constraints that impacted program feasibility and implementation. Despite these constraints, peer-led in-reach overdose response interventions are effective tools in addressing overdose risk in SROs. Future housing interventions should consider the intersecting pathways of overdose risk, including how these interventions may exacerbate other harms for people who use drugs. Further research should explore the impacts of environmental factors on overdose response interventions in other housing contexts.
Categories: Housing

The State of Homelessness in Australia's Cities: A Health and Social Cost Too High 

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Since 2010, Australian homelessness services, largely operating in the inner city areas of Australian cities, have undertaken interviews with over 8,000 people sleeping rough or otherwise homeless in concentrated data collection efforts called Registry Weeks. First implemented by US homelessness services as part of campaigns to end homelessnessin US cities, Registry Weeks aim to develop a register of those who are homeless in areas in which homelessness services operate using a common interview schedule. The purpose of the register is for those who are homeless to be known by name and for their housing, health and social needs to be recognised to facilitate the organisation of localservices to assist people into permanent housing with necessary supports.The Australian homelessness services that initiated Registry Weeks in Australia shared the principles of evidence-based responses to homelessness, a focus on Housing First and rapid re-housing approaches, and the development of initiatives informed by robust data and research. The Vulnerability Index (VI) instrument, and following that, the VI-SPDAT (Service Prioritisation Decision Assistance Tool) were used in Registry Week collections as the means of collecting data. Findings from Registry Weeks have assisted agencies to prioritise services to those most in need. In recent times, homelessness agencies have moved away from conducting the VI-SPDAT interviews in set weeks and are now conducting interviews on a rolling basis. Over the seven years that the VI-SPDAT has been administered (2010-2017), 8,618 interviews have been conducted with 8,370 people experiencing homelessness across Australian capital cities and regional centres.The State of Homelessness in Australia’s Cities: A Health and SocialCost Too High represents the first analysis of the consolidated Registry Week data across Australia. The consolidated Registry Week data provides the largest and richest collection of information on people experiencing homelessness in Australian capital and regional cities outside the Census and the national administrative data for homelessness services, the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection.The report aims to:1.Provide a profile of the backgrounds of people experiencing homelessness in Australia.2.Examine the length of time those interviewed have spent homeless and have been without stable accommodation.3.Assess the medical conditions and healthcare needs of those experiencing homelessness, their current use of healthcare, and the accompanying costs to the healthcare system.4.Understand the history of interaction with the justice system of those experiencing homelessness, and their current exposure to harm and risk.5.Examine the financial circumstances of those experiencing homelessness and their social needs.6.Detail in the words of those interviewed what they feel they need in order to be safe and well.7.Provide recommendations for future strategies and studies that aim to inform best practice approaches to ending homelessness in Australia
Categories: Housing

Missed Opportunities: Counting Youth Experiencing Homelessness in America

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Missed Opportunities: Counting Youth Experiencing Homelessness in America summarizes key lessons learned from conducting point-in-time counts of youth experiencing homelessness in 22 diverse counties across the United States. Youth counts can provide communities with valuable information about the number and characteristics of youth experiencing homelessness, including information about over-represented groups for whom specialized services might be needed. Additionally, by conducting annual or biennial youth counts, communities can identify changes over time in the local population of youth experiencing homelessness. This brief offers recommendations for conducting successful youth counts based on our experiences conducting counts and insights shared by our partner counties. We hope these recommendations will help more communities conduct youth counts that yield valuable data and drive positive change.
Categories: Housing

Thompson, Manitoba 2018 PiT Count Report

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
This project was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). The City of Thompson is the Community Entity (CE) designated by the HPS to report annually on the amount received. The 2014-2019 Community Plan of the Thompson Community Advisory Board (CAB) included the completion of Point in Time (PiT) Homeless Counts in 2015 and 2016 (Thompson Community Advisory Board for Homelessness, 2014). In 2016 the HPS supported coordinated community homeless counts in communities across Canada using the PiT Count methodology. These counts provide vital information to participating communities about their homeless population, and contribute to the understanding of homelessness in Canada. The HPS decided to provide the same support for a 2018 count. Between March and April 2018, over 60 communities across Canada, including Thompson, participated in Everyone Counts - the 2nd HPS Coordinated Point-in-Time Count. The findings from these communities will provide an unprecedented dataset on homelessness in Canada. The Thompson 2018 PiT count was administered through the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Thompson. Faculty members of the University of Manitoba Northern Social Work Program (NSWP) took the lead on designing the count, data analysis and the writing of the report. Twenty-six students of the NSWP, as well as the homeless, partners of this initiative, staff from CMHA and other agencies and community members took the enumeration training and volunteered on the day of the count
Categories: Housing

Social Networks and Substance Use After Transitioning into Permanent Supportive Housing

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Substance use disorders are common among persons experiencing homelessness, and research has identified social networks as important correlates of substance use in this population. Permanent supportive housing (PSH), particularly Housing First, which uses a harm reduction model not requiring substance abstinence, is a key solution for ending homelessness. However, conflicting evidence exists regarding the associations between moving into PSH and changes in substance use, and there is limited understanding of how networks may influence such changes. Using observational, longitudinal data from 421 persons before they moved in and over their first year in PSH (collected as part of a HIV-risk study), this paper assesses substance use change (alcohol, marijuana, and illicit drugs) and associations between perceived network characteristics and individual substance use. Substance use remained relatively stable among participants over their first year living in PSH, although illicit substance use reduced somewhat at six months compared to baseline levels (from 18.5%–14.5%) and marijuana use increased slightly at 12 months (from 26.6% at baseline to 32.9%). Substance use among social network members was consistently associated with individual-level substance use, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Specific network substance use characteristics, such as proximity, location met, and social support, had differential relationships with particular substance types. These findings provide longitudinal evidence that changes within substance-using social networks are associated with subsequent changes in individual use and underscore the importance of interventions aimed at promoting positive social relationships for formerly homeless persons and improving PSH’s social environments.
Categories: Housing

Niagara Counts 2018: Homelessness Point-in-Time Count Report

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Niagara Counts 2018, Niagara’s second homelessness Point-in-Time (PiT) Count, was conducted in late March 2018. A PiT Count is intended to provide a snapshot of homelessness at a single point in time through a homeless enumeration and an accompanying survey (i.e. collected information on the demographics, experience, and services needs of Niagara’s self-identified homeless population). Niagara’s PiT Count found 625 people to be experiencing homelessness on March 27th, 2018, in emergency and Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters, in transitional housing programs, and in unsheltered locations. This number includes 144 children aged 0-15 years.
Categories: Housing

Striving and Dreaming: A Grounded Theory of the Transition to Adulthood for Cross-Systems Youth

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
The transition to adulthood is an underresearched topic for cross-systems youth, defined as young people who have experienced homelessness, child welfare system involvement, and educational challenges. This qualitative study explored processes of resilience in the transition to adulthood for cross-systems youth aged 18 to 24 (n = 20). Analysis of in-depth interviews using a grounded theory open coding process revealed two thematic concepts, striving and dreaming. As illustrated in two case studies, striving was characterized by participants having specific educational and career goals and making strategic choices about programs and resources. In contrast, the dreaming concept indicated participants having little understanding of the steps and resources needed to achieve their goals. Implications for practice include the importance of helping cross-systems youth maintain supportive relationships with families of origin and peers to enhance striving, and the use of motivational interviewing to assist emerging adults in gauging their readiness and motivation to set and pursue goals.
Categories: Housing

Homeless Families Research Brief: Child Separation Among Families Experiencing Homelessness

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Families who use emergency shelters are more likely than poor, housed families to experience separations between children and their custodial parents (Cowal et al., 2002). Family composition may change over time. For example, a parent may send his or her children to live in what he or she perceives to be a safer environment with relatives or family friends rather than subjecting children to the experience of a shelter. In other cases, child welfare agencies may have removed children from their parent’s custodial care. Compared with housed families in the same city, children who enter emergency shelter are more likely to have a subsequent out-of-family placement (Park et al., 2004; Cowal et al., 2002; Hayes, Zonneville and Bassuk, 2013). A previous brief in this series found that in 24 percent of families staying in shelter, at least one child was separated from the family (Walton, Dunton and Groves, 2017). This brief provides a more detailed examination of these families and their children before and after the initial shelter stay, revealing more extensive and persistent levels of child separation. It gives detailed characteristics of separated children and examines whether future child separation after a shelter stay is related to either housing instability or previous separations.
Categories: Housing

The 2018 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time Count

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
The PiT Count took place throughout the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), commonly referred to as Greater Victoria. This report uses those two terms interchangeably. There are 13 municipalities and one electoral area that make up the Greater Victoria region. Contact was made with enforcement officials in jurisdictions throughout the region. This year, Sooke actively participated in the PiT Count, with three survey locations and an outdoor/unsheltered survey route.
Categories: Housing

Creating Housing for Youth Victims of Human Trafficking

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
In Canada, both women and children are the primary victims of human trafficking and are trafficked largely for sexual exploitation. It has been estimated that approximately 800 people are trafficked into Canada annually and another 1,200 to 1,500 are trafficked through Canada. Some social service organizations have estimated that as many as 16,000 Canadians are trafficked annually. While we do not know how many of these are children, it has been estimated, “about 1,300 Canadian children reported ‘missing’ by the RCMP are trafficked annually for sexual activity”.  Toronto has been identified as one of the ‘principle destinations’ or ‘transit points’ for individuals, both foreign nationals and domestic residents, who have been trafficked. Carly Kalish from the All Saints Church Community Centre has seen first-hand human trafficking in Toronto. According to Kalish, human trafficking is happening, “on Church St., in Regent Park and in Dundas Square”. Timea Nagy, founder of Walk With Me Victim Services Organization supports this by saying that human trafficking is occurring in Toronto every day, “Look around at the hotels, motels, restaurants, massage places. Human trafficking is all around you, it’s just not seen”.
Categories: Housing

The Health of Foreign-Born Homeless Families Living in the Family Shelter System

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Foreign-born families face challenges following migration to Canada that may impact their well-being and lead them to homelessness. Yet, there is limited research on the experience of homelessness in this population. The purpose of this paper is to examine the health of foreign-born families staying in the emergency shelter system in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and compare their experiences to Canadian-born homeless families who are also living in shelters.
Categories: Housing

Understanding Organizations Serving Runaway and Homeless Youth: A Multi-setting, Multi-perspective Qualitative Exploration

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Runaway and homeless youth (RHY) are dependent on the specialized settings that locate, engage, and serve them. Yet, little research has focused on the features of effective settings for RHY. The present qualitative study, grounded in the Youth Program Quality Assessment model, explored characteristics of higher quality organizations for RHY and gaps that remain from staff and RHY perspectives. A total of 29 diverse settings serving RHY in New York State were randomly selected for participation, and ranked on a quantitative program quality index. Within settings, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with program administrators (N = 30) and other staff (N = 24). Focus group interviews were conducted with RHY (N = 13 focus groups; N = 84 RHY). Data were analyzed using a systematic content analysis approach that was both theory-driven and inductive, comparing higher to lower quality settings. We found all settings provided vital services and experienced challenges, but higher quality settings ameliorated challenges through (1) a youth-centered program philosophy equally understood by staff and RHY; (2) developmentally appropriate relationships between staff and RHY that promoted autonomy; (3) a focus on short- and long-term goals within anticipated crises; and (4) ongoing internal quality assessment procedures. Within lower quality settings we found (1) difficulties retaining effective staff and (2) a primary focus on basic services and managing crises, but less attention to emotional support, exacerbated by (3) funding and other challenges emerging from the larger environment. The present study extends the literature on organizations for RHY by identifying characteristics of higher quality settings, and challenges that remain.
Categories: Housing

What We Learned About Poverty in B.C.

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Between October 30, 2017, and March 31, 2018, government connected with people living in poverty and their friends, families and advocates, as well as community organizations, service providers, local governments, Indigenous communities, businesses, industry associations and unions. This report reflects the voices of people from B.C. who participated in the poverty reduction consultation. They brought forward a wide range of experiences, ideas, opinions, comments and suggestions about how we can reduce poverty, reduce barriers, and build a better B.C. The consultation was designed to give people multiple opportunities to participate. People were encouraged to share their experiences with honesty and openness, and to share their ideas for improvement, without restraint. The intention of holding a broad public engagement process was to ensure that we heard a wide range of ideas, but most importantly, the process was designed to facilitate the participation of people living in poverty whose voices too often go unheard.
Categories: Housing

2018 Alberta Point-in-Time Homeless Count

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
In February 2017, the Government of Canada announced Everyone Counts 2018, the second HPS Coordinated Pointin-Time Count, to be held between March and April 2018. This Count offers a snapshot of homelessness in each city. Participating communities used a common set of survey questions to improve the understanding of homelessness across Canada. 7 Cities already coordinates biennial Point-in-Time Counts in order to provide a current snapshot of the homeless population in Alberta and to enable examination of how homelessness might change over time. The increasing alignment drives better consistency of data and limited comparability that should improve over time. Ultimately, the information gained from Alberta’s coordinated Point-in-Time Count helps to inform solutions to support the goal of ending homelessness in communities. Communities in Alberta conducted the count on April 11, 2018: the third provincially-coordinated Point-in-Time Count of homelessness to date, and the first nationally-coordinated Point-in-Time Count of homelessness using the national methodology. Implementation was coordinated locally by a lead organization in each of the seven largest communities. The information produced during the Point-in-Time Count is utilized to complement administrative data from the provincial and local Homeless Management Information Systems, information from service providers, and research and evaluation projects to form a more complete picture of homelessness in a given community. In isolation, a Pointin-Time Count is not intended to produce an exact number of people experiencing homelessness as not everyone will be found, and some of those who are approached are not willing to participate. This emphasizes the need for ongoing system data particularly from corrections and health systems to inform planning.
Categories: Housing

Child Poverty by Federal Ridings

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
For nearly 30 years, Campaign 2000 has documented the failure of good intentions to end poverty. In the lead up to Canada’s first federal Poverty Reduction Strategy, Campaign 2000 reveals a disturbing picture of the magnitude of child poverty in every federal riding. The latest data paint a stark portrait of inequality in Canada with high- and low-income families living in close proximity while divided by wide social and economic gaps that leave too many children hungry, sick and stressed beyond their years. Troublingly, this report shows that the federal ridings with the highest levels of child and family poverty are home to a higher proportion of Indigenous,1 racialized and immigrant communities and lone-parent led families. This correlation signals the persistence of discrimination and systemic inequalities that translates to higher unemployment, lower labour market participation rates and higher proportions of renters and people spending more than 30% of their income on housing. The presence of child and family poverty in every riding in Canada demands strong and decisive federal action through the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Clearly, every community, every Member of Parliament and all political parties have a stake in the eradication of poverty. Canadians expect a strong strategy that will effectively number poverty’s days, so we can stop counting the number of children in poverty. Child and family poverty is a big problem in Canada and it demands a big response.
Categories: Housing

Housing First: The Role of Permanent Supported Accommodation for People Who Have Experienced Chronic Homelessness 

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
The objective of this study was to determine whether a ‘housing first’ permanent supported accommodation was effective in improving housing stability, continuity of care and reducing mental health admissions for persons experiencing chronic homelessness with psychosis. Conclusions: The accommodation of chronic homeless persons with psychosis in a ‘housing first’ permanent supported accommodation lead to increased housing stability and optimism, improved continuity of care and reduced psychiatric admissions
Categories: Housing

Understanding Risk Environments in Permanent Supportive Housing for Formerly Homeless Adults

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
In this study, we used ethnographic methods and a risk environment framework to consider how contextual factors produce or reduce risk for substance use with a sample of 27 adults who recently moved into permanent supportive housing (PSH). Most apparent was how the social and physical environments interacted, because most participants focused on how having an apartment had dramatically changed their lives and how they interact with others. Specific themes that emerged that also involved economic and policy environments included the following: isolation versus social engagement; becoming one’s own caseworker; and engaging in identity work. This study underscores the scarcity yet importance of research that examines the multiple types of environment in which PSH is situated, and suggests that a better understanding of how these environments interact to produce or reduce risk is needed to develop optimal interventions and support services.
Categories: Housing

Exploring Domestic Violence Survivors’ Need for Transitional Housing

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 2:15pm
Throughout the United States, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, with women disproportionally more likely to experience fear, concern for their safety, injury, and need for medical care and housing services (Black, Basile, Breiding, Smith, Walters, Merrick, & Stevens, 2011). Research suggests that domestic violence (DV) is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. The lack of stable housing further increases women’s risk of re-victimization (Jasinski, Wesely, Mustaine, & Wright, 2002; Kannah, Singh, Nemil, & Best, 1992; Wilder Research Center, 2016). The intersection of poverty and DV is particularly impactful to survivors seeking safety and healing from trauma (Sokoloff & Dupont, 2005). Economic burdens, including the need for safe housing, limit survivors’ mobility and options when seeking help after victimization. Historically, DV shelters have been a safe haven for women escaping violence who are also experiencing housing instability or unsafe housing (Baker, Niolon, & Oliphant, 2009; Panchanadeswaran & McCloskey, 2007). A small but compelling body of evidence has established efficacy for core DV services provided by shelters to increase safety, well-being, and economic stability for survivors (Sullivan, 2016; Sullivan & Virden, 2017a, 2017b). However, on average, DV shelters limit the length of stay to 30 or 60 days, with extensions for certain circumstances (NNEDV, 2016; Sullivan & Virden, 2017a). This time frame is unfortunately too short for many survivors to obtain the resources they need to live safely (Sullivan & Virden, 2017b). One approach for DV survivors who require housing assistance and supportive services for a longer period of time is transitional housing (TH). Transitional housing provides an apartment or rental unit, along with rental assistance and supportive services for up to two years, allowing survivors time to work on any barriers they face to securing permanent housing and to heal from the trauma they have experienced (U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, 2015). TH units may be at a single-site with shared facilities such as laundry rooms (facility-based) or units may be scattered sites allowing survivors to live various places in the community. Supportive services are voluntary but tend to include advocacy, educational and financial support, life skills classes, counseling and peer support (Baker et al., 2009). For single-site programs, these services are often offered on-site. Another approach for DV survivors is rapid re-housing (RRH). RRH allows DV survivors to locate their own apartment and to receive rental assistance and supportive services for a period of time. After the rental assistance ends, the survivor can stay in the unit if they can pay the rent on their own. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has stated that “rapid re-housing grant funds may be used to provide short- and/or medium-term rental assistance and accompanying, limited supportive services, as needed, to help an individual or family that is homeless move as quickly as possible into permanent housing and achieve stability in that housing” (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2013, p. 5). Medium assistance is defined as lasting up to 2 years.Exploring Domestic Violence Survivors’ Need for Transitional Housing 2 of 9 While the efficacy of shelter and other DV services have been evaluated in part (see Sullivan, 2016), almost no research has been conducted assessing transitional or rapid rehousing for DV survivors. Therefore, this study explored the ways in which DV survivors experienced a TH program that they were currently enrolled in, as well as their perceptions about whether RRH would have been a good fit for them given different durations of rental assistance and supportive services.
Categories: Housing