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Homelessness For Final

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Health Sciences
Renee Mac Phee

HOMELESSNESS  Sleeping in indoor or outdoor public places and/or emergency shelters  Living in illegal or temporary accommodations and/or relying on friends and acquaintances for shelter  Living in housing that is considered unsafe, unhealthy, unaffordable, overcrowded or insecure  Homelessness has emerged from shrouded alleys to a position of prominence o Not confined to poorest countries  Growth in both absolute homelessness and relative homelessness has occurred in urban and non urban areas  United Nations (1987) established a distinction between absolute and relative homelessness Absolute Homelessness  People living on the street and victims of disaster with no homes at all; complete absence of shelter  Those with no fixed address including: o People living on the streets o Those using shelters o In the case of young children, those provided with shelter in conditions bearing little resemblance to a home, often referred to as welfare motels Relative Homelessness  People housed in dwelling that fail to meet 5 basic standards set out by the United Nations: o Adequately protect occupants from the elements o Be provided with safe water and sanitation o Provide for secure tenure and personal safety (locks on doors and windows) o Lie within easy reach of employment, education and health care o Be affordable Canadian Distinctions Chronic homelessness  o 20 - 40% of those using emergency shelters/hotels o Socially marginal people (psychiatric conditions, substance abuse) o Many repeat stays in shelters over the course of a person's life  Periodic homelessness/episodic o Leave home as a result of a crisis: domestic violence/abuse  May or may not return home o More frequent shelter use with episodes lasting from a few months to a year  Temporary homelessness/transitional o Lose shelter because of fire or flood, hospitalization, unemployment, eviction or foreclosure o Brief one-time stay at a shelter Who is Homeless?  Characteristics of the "stereotypic" homeless person o Single o Alcoholic and/or drug using o Male o NOTE: policy and program response to homelessness reflects this out dated view  All ages, gender, sexual orientation, race or class  Different socio-economic, educational, ethnic and familial backgrounds  Diverse medical histories  Homeless Canadians include: o Increasing numbers of women o Increasing numbers of children o People marginalized from housing markets o Increasing numbers of other groups in special circumstances  Adolescents  Persons with mental illness  Aboriginal people Why Do People Become Homeless  Causes of homelessness include: o Job loss/increased rates of unemployment o Health issues o Psychiatric morbidity and changes in mental health services o Cuts and restrictions to social assistance o Cuts and restrictions to employment insurance(aka unemployment insurance) o Low wages and job insecurity o Lack of affordable housing o Discrimination and abuse from landlords o Spousal abuse o Violence in relationships o Neglect o Family breakdown Families With Children  Most rapid growth in numbers of homeless women with children  Risk factors for homelessness among women: o Poverty, family violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental and physical health problems, lack of affordable housing  As a result, more women and their children trapped in vicious cycle - choice between homelessness and one of the previous stated risk factors  Welfare motels and hostels are available o Fewer people on the streets o However, research reveals that children in these environments report increasing frequencies of acute illness, chronic illness and development of slowing or delay Street Youth  Over 70% of whom report leaving home because of physical and/or sexual abuse  Health needs similar to homeless adults o Also include
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