New report offers recommendations to end homelessness in Canada

a homeless youth

On Oct. 29, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (Homeless Hub), based at York University, and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) released their second annual “State of Homelessness in Canada” report.

The report shows that homelessness in Canada can be ended and offers six recommendations.

Highlights of the report include:

  • 235,000 different Canadians experience homelessness each year and 35,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night (an increase from last year resulting from improved analysis).
  • An estimated 1.5 million poor Canadian households are living in core housing need, with 733,275 renter households in extreme housing need.
  • An additional 365,000 households who are living in poverty, but surviving in subsidized housing, may lose support and potentially their homes as federal social housing operating agreements expire.
  • The “State of Homelessness in Canada” report traces the rise of modern mass homelessness in Canada back to federal withdrawal from housing investment, including a 46 per cent reduction in federal affordable housing investment over the past 25 years despite the 30 per cent growth in Canada’s population.
  • The report provides recommendations that would:
    • eliminate chronic homelessness and reduce the length of stay in emergency shelters in Canada to less than two weeks;
    • provide direct financial assistance to 836,000 poor Canadian households per year; and
    • create 88,000 new units of supportive and affordable housing over a decade.
  • Proposals would cost $3.752 annually (2015-16), an increase of $1.719 billion/year over current expenditures.
  • This investment in affordable housing will cost each Canadian $106 per year, which is an increase of $46 per year over current spending. In 1989, Canadians spent $115 per capita.
  • Homelessness today costs Canadians over $7 billion per year.
Stephen Gaetz
Stephen Gaetz

“We began this year’s report with the question: How much housing would it take to end homelessness?” says York University Professor Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. “We’ve shown that creating enough housing is achievable and affordable with relatively small, but precisely targeted investments.”

“An end to homelessness is readily achievable, but we have to tackle the housing crisis facing our poorest and most vulnerable neighbours,” adds Tim Richter, president & CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. “The federal government’s shift to Housing First was right, but Housing First programs won’t be enough without some targeted investment in supportive and affordable housing.”

The “State of Homelessness in Canada” report offers six recommendations:

  1. a new federal, provincial and territorial affordable housing framework agreement that sets clear priorities and requires local planning;
  2. increased Housing First investments that target chronic and episodic homelessness through an expansion of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy;
  3. direct investment in affordable housing programs, specifically:
    • reinvestment in federal funding for social housing, co-ops and non-profits as operating agreements wind down; and
    • expansion of the Investment in Affordable Housing initiative (IAH);
  4. a housing benefit to assist those who face a severe affordability problem in their current accommodation;
  5. a new affordable housing tax credit; and
  6. review and expand investment in Aboriginal housing both on and off reserve.

The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (Homeless Hub) at York University is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute committed to conducting and mobilizing research to have a greater impact on solutions to homelessness. The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness has been formed to create a national movement to end homelessness in Canada from the community up.