Examining the patterns of homelessness

Not everyone who is homeless today will be that way forever, although it may look, or feel, that way

Clearwater Homelessness Partnering Strategy

Plaid? Floral? Stripes? No, the patterns of homelessness look more like transitional, episodic or chronic which describe the length and number of stays in shelters or other homeless situations.

Not everyone who is homeless today will be that way forever, although it may look, or feel, that way for those involved.

In Canada, 88 – 94 per cent of the homeless population are considered in the transitional pattern. This describes those individuals and families who generally enter the shelter system for a short stay and usually for one stay only. They tend to be younger and less likely to have complex issues relating to mental health, addictions and other medical problems as those caught in the other patterns do.

The next pattern is episodic which includes individuals who move in and out of homelessness numerous times over their lifetimes. Research has shown that this population is also younger but has more complex issues than people who are transitionally homeless. In Canada approximately three – 11 per cent of the homeless population falls under this pattern.

Fortunately, only a very small percentage of those who are homeless, (two – four per cent) fall into the chronic category. These are the long term shelter-users or those who live on the street – the image of a “homeless person” we see in larger centres.  They may be a small percentage but they have the highest needs because they are locked into a state of homelessness due to multiple issues involving health, addictions and contact with criminal justice system.

(Adapted from “The State of Homelessness in Canada 2013”by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness)

So what patterns of homelessness exist in our area? Why do we want to know? Without a home it is difficult to maintain the security, stability and health required to participate more broadly in the community. (Adapted from the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan 2011) The longer one is homeless, the greater likelihood that pre-existing and emergent health problems worsen (including mental health and addictions) and there is greater risk of criminal victimization, sexual exploitation and trauma.

Are you or do you know some who is caught in the revolving door of homelessness? Maybe you have a temporary place to stay with friends or relatives but they aren’t prepared to have you stay forever. Or are you at risk of homelessness? Are you walking on the financial edge because your home is unaffordable, unsafe, overcrowded or poorly maintained?

We would like to talk to you. The information you provide will help us to create a strategy to deal with housing issues in Clearwater.

All of the information will be strictly confidential and will be reported in a way that protects your identity and privacy. In appreciation for your participation, we will give you a $10 gift card for Safety Mart plus your name will be entered into a draw for a $100 gift card, also for Safety Mart.

 

For more information please contact Charlotte or Wendy at 250.674.3530 or email: charlotte@clearwateremployment.ca or wendy.v@yellowheadcs.ca.