When people think of homelessness, they often think of those living on the street. But did you know they only make up a small proportion of people who don’t have a home?
“Homelessness” refers to four types of living situations:
This is the category that usually comes to mind when people think about homelessness.
People who are unsheltered don’t have a home and don’t use emergency shelters, except during extreme weather. They may live in public spaces like parks or sidewalks, or places not meant for habitation like cars, tents, or empty buildings.
People who use emergency shelters are also experiencing homelessness.
They may resort to shelters because they have lost their job, been evicted, are fleeing family violence, or have mental health challenges that prevent them from maintaining a home.
People who are provisionally accommodated live in temporary housing.
Couch surfing with friends
Living in a rental with no security of tenure
Living in hospitals, jails or reception centres for immigrants and refugees
Whatever form it takes, people who are provisionally accommodated do not have permanent housing.
At Risk of Homelessness
People who have a home, but are one life event away from losing it, are also experiencing homelessness.
People may be at risk of experiencing homelessness for several reasons. A lack of affordable housing places people at risk of experiencing homelessness. They may live pay cheque to pay cheque, lose their jobs, or face eviction.
Others may suffer from illnesses that make it difficult to maintain permanent housing. They may be victims of domestic violence or find themselves without a home when a household splits up during a separation or divorce.
Homelessness in Calgary
People experiencing homelessness in our city can be found in all four types of living situations.
This was demonstrated in the 2018 Point in Time Count. Of the 2911 people experiencing homelessness in Calgary that night, only 59 (2%) were living on the street. The rest were living in shelters and temporary accommodation.
What causes a person to experience homelessness?
There is no single factor that causes homelessness.
Homelessness is an experience that arises from a combination of issues. You can learn more about the causes here.