Many people who live in the nine municipalities that make up York Region have a difficult time believing that homelessness and risk of homelessness are issues that face residents in our communities. It is something that we see and associate with major urban centres, but “not here” in a rapidly growing region that is known for its prosperity.
Poverty and a critical lack of affordable housing along with availability of appropriate social supports to assist individuals are key underlying issues that impact our ability to address this very disturbing reality.
Persons without access to their own safe affordable housing - Likely to be living outside, in cars, fields, parks
Persons who do not have their own safe affordable housing, but are not seen by most people as visibly homeless. May be sharing accommodation, "couch surfing" (changing accommodation on a regular basis staying with family/friends but with no permanent home)
At risk of homelessness
People who are marginally housed but at extreme risk of becoming homeless at any point – one incident, one pay cheque away
Homelessness is not always a permanent state. Individuals/families may find themselves moving from one situation to another and back again depending on changing circumstances.
Some people become homeless as a result of a direct or indirect change in their income, personal circumstances such as losing a job, a marriage breakdown or needing to leave an abusive relationship. If affordable housing, adequate income and support services are available, the situation has the potential to be resolved in a relatively short time.
Young people may find themselves in and out of temporary housing situations for a variety of complex reasons and have great difficulty finding accommodation because of their age.
Others may experience homelessness if they are released from psychiatric or correctional facilities without supports to assist them in reintegrating into the community.
A smaller number of people are chronically homeless. Living on the street has become a way of life, likely as a result of severe mental illness or long term substance abuse or both.
The recent recession has increased vulnerability within York Region, particularly that have lost employment and are paying a disproportionate amount of their income on housing.
Here is the York Region Community Plan to Address Homelessness (2008). (PDF)
For a perspective on how we got here – please check out Dr. David Hulchanski’s keynote presentation from Spring 2009.
Homelessness Past, Present, Future David Hulchanski
Growing Home Homelessness and Housing in Canada Conference
University of Calgary, February 18th, 2009