What is homelessness?

When we think of someone who is homeless, we often have an idea in our minds of someone living on the street. But homelessness takes many forms.

Our recent survey, called a Point-in-Time count, revealed that many people experiencing homelessness in our community are in hospitals, correctional facilities or emergency shelters, or even staying with family or friends. People with no housing security or who are couch surfing are all considered to be experiencing homelessness.

How did they end up homeless? Those surveyed provided many different reasons and situations, but the leading causes were:

  • Addiction issues
  • Inability to pay their rent or mortgage
  • Incarceration
  • Unsafe housing conditions

Other factors included, domestic violence, family breakdown, loss of employment, aging out of the child welfare system, and a lack of affordable housing and lack of social supports.

These issues affect all age groups. Anyone can find themselves homeless.

“Given the current situation in Ottawa, where the vacancy rate remains low at just 1.6 per cent in October 2018, and housing prices and rental rates continue to rise, it can be a struggle for many residents just to keep a roof over their heads,” explained Paul Lavigne, Program Manager of Homelessness Services. “Sometimes life can be unpredictable, and anyone could be unable to find housing. Homelessness does not discriminate. Housing is a basic need and we want all residents to have a place to call home.”

  1. Have you ever experienced homelessness or housing instability?
  2. What supports, or services helped you to end your homelessness or keep you housed?
  3. What are the supports that need to be in place to help someone exit homelessness?

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