Most Homeless Using Federal Program Still Without Housing a Year Later

by EditorK

TORONTO, ON – JUNE 07: A homeless encampment is seen on June 7, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Ian Willms/Getty Images)

Matthew Horwood

Updated: August 16, 2023

Just 40 percent of homeless people successfully found stable housing under a $3.7 billion federal housing aid program, according to a government report.

Of the 13,057 homeless Canadians who received federal aid in 2020, a total of 5,323, or 40 percent, “remained housed or successfully exited the program” after a year, said the report titled “Evaluation Of Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.”

According to the report, which was first covered by Blacklock’s Reporter, community stakeholders said there are shortages of “stable, affordable, and safe” housing in communities across Canada.

“The housing shortage hinders communities’ ability to place individuals experiencing homelessness in more stable housing,” the report said.

“This fact reflects the complexity of supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness. In particular, the interconnectedness of the program and shared responsibility with other players such as federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments.”

The audit figures were based on follow-ups conducted over the course of 12 months.

“Documents do not provide evidence to indicate whether monitoring the housing situation for 12 months post-intervention is a sufficient period to assess whether individuals or families experiencing homelessness can be considered to be more stably housed or having exited homelessness,” it added.

Reaching Home was launched back in April 2019 to support the goals of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy by providing vulnerable Canadians with access to safe and affordable housing. Its goal is to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent by 2027-28. Its funding has increased from over $2 billion to nearly $4 billion over the past nine years.

In a separate report “Overview Of Encampments Across Canada,” authors said that the occupants of tent cities typically suffered from “substance abuse, mental health issues, unemployment, and domestic turmoil.”

The report attributed the rise of homelessness in Canada since the 1980s to a lack of investment in affordable housing, shifts in employment away from permanent positions and towards precarious labour, and the defunding of social welfare programs.

No detailed estimates of homelessness are available for Canada. In its 2021 Census, Statistics Canada cited 9,275 shelter occupants across the country.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” then-housing minister Ahmed Hussen told reporters in 2022. “The government is investing in the well-being of Canadians who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.


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