Homelessness Facts (Fall 2021)
There are now an estimated 10,000 people homeless in Toronto alone, every night – a number that has almost doubled over the past few years. Some are afraid to go into shelters because they don’t think it’s safe. Others who would go to shelters have been turned away because some programs have closed, and the ones that are open have had to reduce capacity in order to social distance. Our communities are struggling with higher numbers of homeless people – people who have been unable to pay their rent due to financial struggles, people who have had to leave unsafe living conditions because of violence which has increased as families struggle with being at home more and parents are out of work. COVID-19 has brought the issue of homelessness to the forefront and governments have been making some progress on solutions, such as converting hotels to residences, with services, for our homeless neighbours. Unfortunately, for all the good that has been done this year, the number of homeless people living on the streets has increased as a result of COVID fallout. We are always hopeful, knowing that we are providing only a band-aid solution for each winter as it comes, but even with the solutions that the government implemented, there are still many homeless people waiting for a solution in the form of permanent affordable housing.
What many of us don’t realize is that even if shelter space is available, and a person is willing to go, shelters are not available 24/7. Most shelters send people back on the streets in early morning and don’t allow them back in until nightfall. How would any of us manage all day outside in the winter? No money, no where to go – imagine how exhausting it must be to spend your every waking moment thinking about where you will get food & water, where will you go to the bathroom? How can you avoid people so you don’t contract COVID?
COVID IMPACT ON THE HOMELESS
• People experiencing homelessness are more likely to have physical health conditions that make them more susceptible to the virus.
• People experiencing homelessness age faster than the general population, which puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus.
• The virus is more easily spread through group settings, such as homeless shelters.
People experiencing homelessness are:
o Twice as likely to be hospitalized from coronavirus compared to housed peers.
o 2–4 times as likely compared to housed peers to require critical care as a result of COVID-19.
o 2–3 times as likely as their housed peers to die from COVID-19.
WHAT IS HOMELESSNESS? The Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness (Ontario) views homelessness as the lack of a safe and secure place to call your own, or the situation of a person or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is often the result of a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless and certainly no on deserves to be homeless.
For more facts about homelessness visit: http://homelesshub.ca/about-homelessness/homelessness-101