Breaking the cycle of homelessness with Habitat

Housing operates on a continuum.

On one side there are homeowners. This is the part of the continuum Habitat does its work. We offer a hand-up to families and individuals who are unable to achieve homeownership due to other obstacles in their lives (financial constraints, illness, etc.).

On the other side of the continuum is precarious living and homelessness. Changes to one side of the continuum can have huge repercussions for the other. For example, homelessness emerged as a social problem in the 1980s due to policy changes in affordable housing and reduction in social spending for all Canadian provinces. Mass homelessness has since become widespread in all our communities with 235,000 Canadians being homeless each year.

Communities and local governments now realize that housing is essential to the well being of their communities and are taking steps to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness within their areas. Current measures, however, focus more on providing of emergency shelters and supportive housing well after the problem has surfaced.

To end homelessness, it is important to recognize the many pathways that lead people to become homeless in the first place and prevent it for those who are at risk of experiencing the same. Low-income families are especially vulnerable to becoming homeless with more than 222,000 people in the Peel region already experiencing affordability issues in terms of housing. This cross-section of the population comprises mostly of youth, seniors, and recent immigrants.

The root causes of homelessness are poverty, income inequality, lack of affordable housing, housing insecurity, and domestic abuse. Given these factors, under the right circumstances, anyone can become homeless.

Today’s housing crisis is made worse for those in need because of the systemic gaps in accessing social services and sharing of information between organizations. Breaking the cycle of homelessness requires an integrated approach with the involvement of numerous stakeholders and partnerships across all sectors. This would mean bolstering current efforts with more investment in terms of funding and resources across the housing continuum. Supporting Habitat’s vision where everyone has a safe and decent place to live – while not directly working with the homeless population – is an integral part of reducing and eventually eradicating homelessness.

Housing ranges on a spectrum from emergency shelters on one end to home ownership on the other. Each type of housing in this continuum—emergency, transitional, supportive, social, and affordable home ownership—addresses specific economic situations of those in need.

Habitat for Humanity values the significance of housing in our communities and works on the upper end of the housing continuum—home ownership. Through subsidized housing, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga has helped play a role in homelessness prevention. Over 90 per cent of the homeless population in Canada is driven to homelessness because of poverty and lack of affordability in housing.

Ending homelessness would mean looking beyond band-aid solutions and investing in affordable housing to prevent homelessness before it occurs. Habitat homes provide such an opportunity and enhance the quality of life for those who are most vulnerable to being homeless in our communities.

To be a part of Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga vision of helping everyone achieve home ownership, follow this link.