Frequently Asked Questions
Causes of Homelessness
Homelessness can happen to anyone. Homelessness is a crisis an individual experiences; it does not define the person.
The causes of homelessness are diverse, for example – a lack of funding for supports, a shortage of affordable housing and various barriers that either intentionally or unintentionally prevent people from acquiring adequate housing (e.g., criminalization of homelessness and poverty, gentrification, discrimination). Some of these structural factors have become even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, where livelihoods were lost, rent became even more difficult to afford and crucial supports were limited or suspended entirely.
Other factors that can force an individual into homelessness include traumatic events, personal crises, mental health challenges, exposure to violence or abuse, physical health problems, disabilities and a lack of support for immigrants and refugees. Sometimes, it takes only one of these factors to wind up living on the street. Other times, it is a combination of factors which lead to homelessness.
The most significant, encompassing and growing cause of homelessness is simply poverty and the inability to pay the rent.
Solutions to Homelessness
Housing, with supports, is the solution to homelessness; Income, the solution to poverty.
Collectively, we have known this base solution for years:
- Increase wages and social assistance rates and ultimately, we need a basic/minimum income, and;
- Create truly affordable, quality housing whether through de-commodification of housing, rent controls, refurb/retrofit/maintenance, or new public housing builds.