Homelessness in Canada can be dramatically reduced or even stopped if Canadians are willing to commit to addressing it according to a new report.
The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016 was released with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. It examined the current state of homelessness and how they plan to reach their ten year targets.
According to the report released in mid-October, throughout the course of a year at least 235000 Canadians endure some sort of homelessness with an average of 35000 experiencing homelessness on any given night. Canada is making progress with fewer shelter visits and shorter stays.“We are seeing new partnerships, innovative solutions, systems-based plans to end homelessness and improved data collection and measurement of the issue” the report said.
The Ontario government is one of many making progress on its own target of reducing homelessness. The Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness, Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy and Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy are each making investments in the province to reduce homelessness. The report said “Through a series of measures, including policy reform, increased funding and strategic targeting of specialized populations, Ontario is using evidence-based and community-led practices to build capacity to reduce poverty and end homelessness.”
The Government of Canada has committed a $2.3 billion investment into multiple affordable housing strategies, but mainly in the Homeless Partnering Strategy. This money will directly support communities who are in need of assistance to combat homelessness. “Most importantly” the report said “the Government of Canada coupled their investment with a commitment to create a National Housing Strategy (NHS).” The government will release the results of their consultations with Canadians on the National Housing Strategy Nov. 22.
In their plan costing $43.8 billion over ten years, the report highlights the need for a National Housing Strategy to end homelessness. The report recommends the government have a plan with clear outcomes, that renew and expand the Homeless Partnering Strategy, develop a new framework that work closely with provincial and territorial partners and specific strategies for targeting youth, indigenous and veteran homelessness.
The report recommends the continued support and collaboration with ‘A Way Home’ to better support youth on the streets and end homelessness. A Way Home is committed to working with various partners at all levels to adopt Housing First strategies and significantly reduce youth homelessness. Collaboration with Veterans Affairs Canada and models like the federal government investment in Indigenous affordable housing will ensure these groups have better outcomes.
To ensure affordable housing is available for those to get off the streets, the report makes some recommendations. It encourages the federal government to build more affordable housing while keeping those already built and applying a National Housing Benefit and affordable housing tax credit.
Ending with a look forward, the report says “We must strategize, innovate and invest until we have prevented and ended homelessness.”