Canada’s Homeless: The Common Misconceptions

20 Oct

Those on the streets make up the majority of the homeless population. Wrong. The homeless population of Canada is made up of more than the visible, long term homeless population that can be seen on the streets. In fact, the visible homeless makes up less than 20% of the total homeless population in Canada (Raising the Roof, Fast Facts, 2009).

Homelessness is a choice. Wrong. No one would choose to be homeless. The following are situations explaining how someone may become homeless (situations provided by the non-profit Raising the Roof):

  • A teenager may become homeless after escaping an abusive care giver
  • A Senior on a fixed income may become homeless after facing an increase in rent or taxes
  • A child may become homeless after their parent suddenly become unemployed

The majority of homeless people are single males. Wrong. The fastest growing demographic is families with children. Youth also make up a third of the homeless population (Raising the Roof, 2009). Some non-governmental reports suggest that the total true population of homeless people in Canada is between 200,000 and 300,000 (“Homelessness”, the Globe and Mail June 2006). “At any given time of the year, there as many as 65,000 youth without a place to call home” (Raising the Roof, Fast Facts, 2009)

Homeless people are lazy and unmotivated to get a job. Wrong. As mentioned above there are many situations why  someone becomes homeless and stays homeless. Determining factors for homelessness can include poor physical or mental health, violence or abuse in the home, lack of employment or an income, and a shortage of affordable housing.

These common stereotypes are problematic, especially the stereotype which states that homelessness is a choice and that the homeless are lazy. It is easy to blame the people, instead of looking at the bigger issues. It is important to keep in mind some bigger questions such as why is it difficult to find affordable housing? What are the causes of domestic violence?

2 Responses to “Canada’s Homeless: The Common Misconceptions”

  1. siropderablepur November 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Very important issue, Leah. Have you seen today’s Chronicle Herald? http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/189177-homeless-issue-hard-to-crack

    Stereotypes, stigma, and misperceptions are all important, despite their hindrance, to our understanding of homelessness and shape views at young, impressionable ages.

    I think the best way for those fortunate to have a home to understand homelessness is to volunteer and spend time with the homeless community at shelters, soup kitchens, etc. I realize that this is not possible for everyone but with the holidays coming up (a particularly busy time of year for those working in shelters, kitchens, etc.) I hope that those who can spare a moment can take the time to visit their local shelter and lend a helping hand.

    Interacting and engaging with the homeless community allows others to identify homelessness with a face and sympathetic story, which hopefully encourages some common identity or relation with the homeless community.

  2. Purushothaman .R November 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    I am from Mr Purushothaman from India and doing research in the field of IT especially in the digital divide. This problem is pervasive problem and considered to be a global problems. I like to know many things about the digital divide.. thanking you!

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The Digitial Divide Among Canada's Homeless

Exploring how the Internet is used by Marginalized groups in Canada

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