Hidden Homelessness

According to the Canadian Definition of Homelessness, the "hidden homelessness" population falls under the category of "provisionally accommodated." It refers specifically to people who live “temporarily with others but without guarantee of continued residency or immediate prospects for accessing permanent housing.” Often known as "couch surfing," this describes people who are staying with relatives, friends, neighbours or strangers  because they have no other option. They generally are not paying rent and it is not a sustainable long-term living arrangement but they do not have the ability to secure their own permanent housing immediately or in the near future. This population is considered to be "hidden" because they usually do not access homeless supports and services even though they are improperly or inadequately housed. Because they do not access services, they do not show up on standard statistics regarding homelessness.

In the State of Homelessness in Canada 2013 an attempt was made to estimate the number of people who fall into this category. The report states that One Canadian study in Vancouver estimated 3.5 people were considered to be unhoused for every one who was experiencing homelessness. While the methodology of this study is sound, it was conducted in only one city, and the difference between cities, their infrastructure to support homelessness and those experiencing homelessness are quite profound. Applied nationally with a more conservative 3:1 ration, as many as 50,000 people could be estimated to be experiencing hidden homelessness on any given night in Canada.