5 Interesting Points – Shelter Capacity Report

The Government of Canada has released the 2018 Shelter Capacity Report today. The following are 5 points that I found interesting:

  1. The total # of emergency shelter beds in Canada has grown from 2015 to 2018 (up to 15,859 from 15,428). This is interesting as the overall goal within the sector is to shift services from a sole focus on emergency shelter, to a comprehensive system including a strong focus on homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing, through Housing First. The growth in shelter beds means that while more of those who are chronically homeless are finding home, demand for support continues to be high. Perhaps a call for better prevention?
  2. While there has been a total growth, women’s shelter beds have actually declined while men’s beds have increased. Knowing that the proportion of women versus men who experience homelessness is much closer than often assumed, this is a worrying trend.
  3. This is balanced in part by a growth in Violence Against Women specific beds that is higher than the loss of general women’s shelter beds. However, the question then is whether single homeless women who aren’t leaving a domestic violence situation have adequate crisis spaces? My own community of London has seen a reduction of women’s-specific beds from 31 to 10.
  4. Quebec is the only province that has seen a notable reduction in shelter beds, most of that coming in Montreal. As I’m unfamiliar, does anyone know what has led to this change in Montreal?
  5. Indigenous-specific shelters or beds are not currently enumerated. Recognizing the vast over-representation of Indigenous people among those experiencing homelessness, I hope that this data will be added in the future.
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