Last week we released a new research summary on hidden homelessness in suburban areas. Homelessness is often thought to be an issue in downtown, urban areas. However, research on the suburbs surrounding cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver disproves this common misconception. Due to a lack of affordable housing and adequate support systems, suburban areas are prone to have hidden homeless populations. The Canadian Definition of Homelessness actually labels this group of people as provisionally sheltered whether they couch surf with friends, family, or strangers or even live in their cars.
A huge step forward has been made for homeless persons with addictions in Montreal with last week's announcement of 4 safe injection sites. The debate on safe injection sites is extensive, but evidence indicates that they do reduce over-dose deaths and reduce general poverty in the communities that they are based in.
Last week we also had a guest blog by Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty, that detailed some of the setbacks on housing rights in 2013. Her list is extensive and includes the defeat of Bill C-400 (which would have been a model for housing rights). Along with an Ontario court ruling that prohibits people from relying on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to address housing and homelessness concerns. Surprisingly too, Canada rejected a list of UN recommendations to tackle poverty, homelessness, and hunger. To put what all this means into perspective you can take a look at this series of facts sheets that go into rising inequality in regards to food, housing, homelessness, and access to education in Canada.
The infographic last week showcased how a lack of affordable housing can affect other areas of daily living including food security, education and healthcare. The infographic indicates that 1 in 4 Canadians pay more than 30% of their salaries on housing, meaning that 25% of the population is forced to consider whether they will spend their earnings on necessities (such as food) or forgo meals in order to pay bills. Luckily, the Conference Board of Canada is renewing a call for a national food plan to alleviate food insecurity, a key indicator of poverty. As of 2011, 12% of Canadian household experience food insecurity, so the move is clearly a welcome one.