Homelessness in York Region
There is more than one “official” definition of homelessness. This is because there are certain groups of people who experience homelessness in different ways, for example the ‘hidden’ homeless individuals who couch surf or stay at friends/family etc. but all homelessness is characterized by extreme poverty coupled with a lack of stable housing.
The many faces of homelessness
Often people wonder why someone is experiencing homelessness. The reasons vary and are as individual as each person. For some, it is the lack of affordable housing, poverty, devastating life events, relationship breakdowns, mental health/or substance use issues, physical health and victimization. Often it can be a combination of these that people who are homeless are experiencing.
The stigma associated with the homeless only serves to exacerbate peoples’ situations. Most people experiencing homelessness don’t look anything like the traditional stereotypes. Extremely limited choices make it seem that someone has “chosen” to be homeless. Highly educated, hardworking, honest, compassionate, funny, wonderful people are experiencing homelessness.
The facts about homelessness in York Region
Currently, in the whole of York Region there exists only one men’s shelter, one family shelter, three youth shelters, one men’s/women shelter and two women’s shelters, all for a population of over 1.033 million (2011). The following was estimated in a 2012 study by The Homeless Hub, a web-based research library in York Region:
- The number of individuals estimated to be staying in shelters: 2,891
- Emergency and transitional housing units and beds: 216
- Individuals receiving social assistance: 10,892 (from Ontario Works)
During the 2014-2015 winter shelter season, Inn From The Cold had 2112 guests from mid-November thru to first week of April. That’s up 32% over the previous season. We provided 5280 meals, extended our hours by 20% during our 153 days in operation due to extreme cold alerts, and distributed 416 pieces of clothing.
Homelessness can create a feeling of being invisible to the rest of society. Our goal is to not only offer food and shelter but also to help individuals gain the skills and confidence to find work, housing and a sense of community. You can help us by becoming a volunteer or by making a donation Homelessness affects us all, become a part of the solution.