Definition of Homelessness

Definition of Homelessness

In order to effectively address the problem of homelessness, there is a need for an agreed upon definition of homelessness. A common definition provides all levels of government and community groups with a framework for understanding and describing homelessness, and a means for identifying goals, strategies and interventions, as well as measuring outcomes and progress.

The Canadian Homelessness Research Network has developed a definition and typology of homelessness intended to improve understanding, measurement and responses to homelessness in Canada by providing a common ‘language’ for addressing this complex problem. Working in collaboration with national, regional and local stakeholders, including people with lived experience, we have developed a definition that draws on our shared history of attempting to define homelessness in Canada, but also on effective models from other jurisdictions (most particularly, the ETHOS definition  from Europe). The result is a useable, understandable definition of homelessness that is uniquely Canadian yet allows for national and international comparison.