In 2012, a new Canadian definition of Homelessness was released by the Canadian Homelessness Research Network:
"Homelessness describes the situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household's financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless, and the experience is generally negative, unpleasant, stressful and distressing."
An episodic shelter user is one who has experienced three or more episodes of homelessness in the past year. A single stay or multiple stays within 30 days of each other are considered an episode. A new episode is counted when a user stays at a shelter after 30 days since their last stay at a shelter.
A chronic shelter user is one who has stayed at shelters for more than 180 days in the past year.
Housing and Shelter Circumstances
- Unsheltered - living on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation
- Emergency sheltered - staying in overnight emergency shelters designed for people who are homeless
- Provisionally accommodated - people who are homeless whose accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure, including interim (or transitional) housing, people living temporarily with others (couch surfing), or living in institutional contexts (hospital, prison) without permanent housing arrangements
- At risk of homelessness - people who are not homeless, but whose current economic and/or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards
Housing First is a program and philosophy that accommodates people regardless of their challenges. It supports them to remain housed without a requirement that they first become "housing ready". We know from similar programs across North America that a Housing First Program is a very effective intervention to offer people who have long struggled with homelessness.