Veteran homelessness : Research, outreach and partnerships

Addressing homelessness is a shared responsibility. It will require a whole-of-government approach that also includes non-profit organizations and stakeholders. In order to properly address homelessness among Veterans, it is important to understand the scale of the issue.

Research

Employment and Social Development Canada tracks emergency shelter use and reports that 150,000 people use emergency shelters every year. The State of Homelessness in Canada: 2013 reported that at least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year and at least 30,000 are homeless on any given night.

How many Veterans are homeless?

Two reports from Employment and Social Development Canada provide the most recent data on Veteran homelessness:

  • The 2018 "Everyone Counts" report provides a snapshot of homelessness across Canada. These statistics show that Veterans account for approximately 4.4% of homeless individuals counted in communities across Canada, which constitutes a 0.3% decrease from 2016. The 2018 statistics also indicate that homeless Veterans tend to be older (median age of 48) than non-Veterans (median age 39), and are more likely to be male (82.7% compared to 62.7% of non-Veterans).
  • The National Shelter Study (2005 - 2016) used emergency shelter data collected over an extended period of time to establish a baseline count and description of the characteristics of the homeless population using emergency shelters in Canada. The data indicates that Veteran homelessness in Canada decreased by an estimated 450 emergency shelter users from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, an estimated 2,400 emergency shelter users (1.8%) identified as a Veteran. This is down from 2,950 (2.2%) in 2014, the first year this information was collected.

Outreach

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has provided information on its programs and services to approximately 200 community organizations that work with the homeless in more than 50 cities across the country, including key information on how to connect with VAC. For example, a downloadable poster with key information on how to connect with VAC is available for display in areas such as emergency homeless shelters, drop-in centres and soup kitchens.

To ensure effective outreach at the community level, all VAC offices across Canada have a staff member identified as the point of contact to work with homeless Veterans and local homelessness organizations and service providers.

Partnerships

VAC is currently involved in outreach initiatives with Veterans' groups and community organizations to find and assist homeless Veterans. Over the years, VAC has partnered with and provided support to a number of local and national organizations on various pilot projects and initiatives.

In addition to ongoing outreach activities , VAC also participates in the annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness which brings together policy makers, funders, researchers, advocates, community leaders and front line workers to address the issue of homelessness in Canada. This enables VAC to meaningfully connect with stakeholders and receive the latest information, tools and training related to addressing homelessness.

Through the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund – which provides funding for innovative research projects that can improve the well-being of Canadian veterans and their families – we are supporting local and national organizations, including those working to address Veteran homelessness.

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