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.” (CHRN, 2012: 1)
Homelessness in Canada
In 2006, the United Nations declared housing and homelessness a national emergency in Canada.
Recent data from a March 2013 Ipsos Reid poll suggests that as many as 1.3 million Canadians have experienced homelessness or extremely insecure housing at some point during the past five years.
Homelessness in Ottawa
According to the Homeless Hub, in Ottawa, the number of people estimated to be:
No. of public & subsidized housing units in Ottawa: 23,471 (2013)
No. of clients on housing wait list: 10, 089 (2013)
Rental Vacancy Rate: 2.8% (2015)
Average Cost of Rent (1 bdrm): $932/mo. (2013)
Income assistance (single individual): $656 (2014)
No. of individuals receiving income assistance: 16,138 (2011)
In 2007, the Sheldon Chumir Foundation estimated that the emergency response to homelessness costs taxpayers from $4.5-$6 billion annually. This figure includes not only the cost of emergency shelters, but social services, health care and corrections. According to the The State of Homelessness in Canada 2013 Report, updated figures for the annual cost of homelessness to the Canadian economy is $7.05 billion dollars.