Raising the Roof’s Child and Family Homelessness Initiative is a comprehensive, three-year examination of homelessness affecting children and their families across Canada. Much of the research that has been done on homelessness focuses on adult or youth populations, but family homelessness makes up a significant percentage of the overall homeless population in Canada. Families are also one of the highest risk groups for homelessness given the extreme levels of poverty, food insecurity and housing unaffordability in this country.
Children who live in homelessness run the risk of doing poorly in school, developing negative health and mental health outcomes, having behavioural issues and struggling to exit poverty as adults. Research into the causes of youth and adult homelessness shows a connection to their living situation and experiences as a child. By focusing on preventing and ending children’s homelessness, we are able to stem the flow of people into homelessness in later years.
When we talk about “children’s homelessness” and “child poverty” it is important to recognize that unlike youth and adults experiencing homelessness, children are not solo, isolated individuals. Children become homeless when their family – single parent, two or multiple parents or caregiver(s) – becomes homeless. Children live in poverty because their family is poor. Therefore, it is important to understand the experiences of the adult caregivers in these children’s lives. Addictions, mental and physical health issues, poverty, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and other challenges play a significant role for many of the families experiencing homelessness. Therefore, this report pays significant attention to understanding these issues as well.