Causes of Homelessness In the Region of Peel
When you speak with someone who is experiencing homelessness you may be surprised as to why they find themselves in the situation. It is also important to understand the definition of homelessness. According to the Region of Peel Website “Homelessness is defined as: being absolutely without shelter; being forced to share accommodation under conditions offering no security of tenure or which are adverse to physical and emotional well being, or; being at substantial risk of being on the street in the immediate future”(CITE REGION OF PEEL WEBSTE). According to the Region of Peel website the following are causes of homelessness within the Region of Peel. Poverty; low housing stock; abusive households; change in family dynamics; low interpersonal supports; mental health and addiction issues; loss of current housing and newly integrated back into society (Region of Peel). The Region of Peel is trying to work towards decreasing homelessness, but first determining the cause is necessary.
Poverty is a strong factor in the cause of homelessness that can be broken down further as to what the causes of poverty are and how they cause homelessness. Loss of employment is a significant aspect to maintaining an individuals current housing (CITE). A single income family experiencing loss of employment could have a difficult time maintaining their rental commitment which could lead to loosing their housing. A two income household could also find themselves in the same situation, if one looses their employment it may be difficult for the household to maintain their housing resulting in eviction. Individuals who are under-employed is another factor to poverty and homelessness (CITE). It is often assumed that someone who is homeless does not have a job, but that is not always the case. A person who works, may not be able to afford housing due to limited hours and or low wages, resulting in difficulty maintaining and or securing housing. Employers are seeking employees with significant training (CITE) making it difficult for those who have not acquired adequate training to find solid and reliable employment to assist with housing costs.
For individuals accessing government resources (CITE) there is minimal financial assistance for shelter and basic needs. The amount offered for shelter is not enough to cover rental costs of housing in the Region of Peel. In order to receive government assistance an individual is to have a Region of Peel address, which unfortunately for many individuals experiencing homelessness, is difficult to provide as they do not have a fixed address. The lack of affordable housing (Region Of Peel) within the Region of Peel, contributes to the difficulties individuals are having in trying to secure housing and maintain housing. As the population in the Region of Peel increases the lack of affordable housing stock, low income and low government financial assistance, will continue to be a contributing cause to homelessness in the Region of Peel.
Change in family dynamic is another contributing cause to homelessness in the Region of Peel. Spousal abuse or child abuse is one of the causes of homelessness (CITE). Once someone who is experiencing abuse decides to leave the abusive household they can often find themselves without anywhere to go. The decision to leave the abuse was about their safety at that time. A child leaving an abusive household would potentially have limited income in order to find adequate housing. There are youth shelters in the Region of Peel but they are over crowded and are not always able to assist the child. It is important to remember the definition of homelessness. A child in a shelter, staying with a friend or family temporarily is still considered homeless. Individuals who are facing income related homelessness may find it difficult to secure alternative housing due to being unable to save the required first and last month rent to secure the new housing.
Financial – Job loss/Divorce/Sickness/affordable housing, housing stock
Services and supports – Available resources, accessibility to those resources, finding those resources. Ontario Works – no address no financial assistance
The Region of Peel is a part of Canada’s plan to end homelessness “The 20,000 Homes Campaign is a national change movement focused on ending chronic homelessness in 20 communities and housing 20,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable homeless people by July 1, 2020” (20000 homes website). A Nation wide effort to end homelessness in Canada is a substantial undertaking, but if communities are implementing the same initiatives then there is hope that homelessness may be easier to address and hopefully eliminated.
Reasons for Peel’s growing homelessness problem include: poverty (inadequate income due to low wages, job loss, under-employment, a lack of jobs for unskilled workers, and low social assistance rates); a lack of affordable housing; family violence and break-up (spousal abuse, parent/child conflict or abuse); weak or lacking familial, friendship, or community support networks; illness including mental health and addiction problems; eviction and the recent release from correctional facilities.
Gaetz, S.; Barr, C.; Friesen, A.; Harris, B.; Hill, C.; Kovacs-Burns, K.; Pauly, B.; Pearce, B.; Turner, A.; Marsolais, A. (2012) Canadian Definition of Homelessness. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.