A New Direction
It is crucial that we address the causes and pathways into homelessness given the rise of mass homelessness beginning in the 1980s, linked to the federal withdrawal of investments in affordable housing and the cuts to social assistance in provinces/territories across Canada. [...] Prevention programs exist in a number of communities but have never been broadly or systematically applied, or taken up at the level of policy and legislation, except in a few cases.2 It is often the case that the ‘politics of scarcity’ underlies the resistance to go in this direction, often on the basis that broadening the homelessness mandate to include prevention would draw much needed resource [...] The reality is that many strategies, investments, and interventions that could have the outcome of reducing the incidence of homelessness would in fact lie outside the homelessness sector and would be the responsibility of other parts of government, including health care, child protection, and the justice system, for instance. [...] Here the goal is to either help young people remain at home, or to move out in a safe and planned way through providing young people and their families with the necessary physical, relational, and emotional supports to enhance resilience and well-being, all in the effort of reducing the risk of homelessness. [...] Given the impact of the experience of homelessness on the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities, it is no longer acceptable to say we can do nothing to help people until they are on the streets, exposed to harm and are suffering.
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