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There are three main ways you can address homelessness:

  • Prevention – Stopping people from becoming homeless in the first place.
  • Emergency Response – Providing emergency supports like shelter, food and day programs, while someone is homeless.
  • Housing, Accommodation, and Supports – The provision of housing and ongoing supports as a means of moving people out of homelessness. 

Since mass homelessness emerged in the mid-1980s, we have largely used emergency services to respond to people’s immediate needs. While we will always need emergency services to help those in crisis, over time these short-term responses have become the standard method for managing homelessness long-term. In the last decade, Canadian policies and practices have begun to shift from managing homelessness to finding solutions, in particular the expansion of the Housing First approach across the country. New research, innovation, and best practices have propelled our thinking on setting the goal to end homelessness; however, we are still missing an important piece – preventing homelessness in the first place. Why must we wait until people are entrenched in homelessness before offering help? 

The international evidence reveals that homelessness prevention makes sense from social and economic perspectives (see research from AustraliaWalesEnglandUnited States, and Canada). Evaluations of prevention initiatives such as evictions prevention and support for survivors of intimate partner violence in GermanyEngland, and the UK demonstrate that prevention contributes to the reduction of homelessness. In Canada, research on the importance of discharge planning from correctional facilitieshospitals, and shelters provides evidence that prevention efforts are successful in the Canadian context. Research continues to inform emerging practices to support key populations including, youthveteransfamilies, and those with high-needs such as addictions and/or mental health challenges. As we make progress on strengthening evaluation and measurement outcomes, evidence is mounting that prevention is effective and worth investing in.

Register for the Community Workspace on Homelessness to discuss Homelessness Prevention.