A housing crisis renders an individual vulnerable, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to navigate their community or seek justice when subjected to discrimination.
Individuals experiencing homelessness can be exposed to many different types of unique stigma. Some of this is explicit, such as state-sanctioned actions like the forceful destruction of encampments, anti-homeless architecture (such as a ledge with concrete spikes on it) and gentrification (displacement of marginalized individuals due to a neighbourhood’s increasing affluence).
Other types of discrimination might be implicit and include incorrect assumptions by people, such as the view that people are homeless by choice or that they lack initiative. This can create further barriers when an individual is ready to transition into housing. In fact, many of the Ontario Human Rights Code’s protected grounds can act as barriers to housing. According to Homeless Hub, research on housing discrimination demonstrates prejudice on the part of landlords and real estate agents in declining potential tenants based on a host of characteristics, and that despite the presence of anti-discrimination laws in Canada, discriminatory practices are increasingly implicit, rather than explicit.”
Further, when you combine homelessness with other protected grounds, it can create layered stigma. For example, if someone experiencing homelessness also identifies as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), they might be subjected to the above discrimination plus racism. Or, if someone is part of the LGBTQ2+ spectrum, they might also experience gender-based discrimination.
Overall, stigma surrounding homelessness surrounds the myth that homelessness and poverty are due to a personal failure, when in reality it is a symptom of inhumane public policy.