State of Women’s Homelessness
Research on the experiences of women and gender-diverse people has shown the scale of women’s housing need and homelessness is much greater than current estimates. In the State of Women’s Homelessness in Canada, researchers highlighted 8 key challenges that need to be addressed to prevent and end homelessness for women and gender-diverse people.
8 Key Challenges | ONE
The number of women, girls, and gender diverse peoples experiencing homelessness in Canada is dramatically underestimated. Women’s homelessness is made invisible by how we define, measure, and respond to housing need and homelessness.
Women's Homelessness is Underestimated
If we do not know the extent of the problem, we cannot ensure there are adequate services and supports in place.
People may be more familiar with absolute or street homelessness, but the definition of homelessness also includes people who are living in precarious and unsafe housing with no alternatives. Some experts on women’s homelessness issues would like the definition to be revised. They recommend adopting a more inclusive definition to account for the conditions and experiences of women and gender-diverse people (Schwan et al., 2020). The Canadian Definition of Homelessness recognizes a continuum of homelessness which ranges from absolute/street homelessness to at risk of homelessness (Gaetz et al., 2012).
Women and gender-diverse people experience all forms of homelessness, but hidden homelessness is more common – meaning their accommodation is temporary or precarious. Many women often live-in conditions that do not meet public health or safety standards.
Another reason that overall numbers are underestimated is not counting people who are not typically seen as homeless.
8 Key Challenges | TWO
There is a profound lack of safe, affordable, adequate, and appropriate housing for women, girls, and gender diverse peoples in communities across Canada.
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.
Schwan, K., Versteegh, A., Perri, M., Caplan, R., Baig, K., Dej, E., Jenkinson, J., Brais, H., Eiboff, F., & Pahlevan Chaleshtari, T. (2020). The State of Women’s Housing Need & Homelessness in Canada: A Literature Review. Hache, A., Nelson, A., Kratochvil, E., & Malenfant, J. (Eds). Toronto, ON: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.