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Homeless People In Canada

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Homelessness in simple terms is a condition where a person does not have a safe accommodation to live in. Abandoned and single parents, drug addicts, old men and women; these basic categories immediately hit us when the word “homelessness” comes to our mind. Transgenders are also at a great risk of ending up homeless. They fear revealing their identity because of the insecurity of not being accepted. These people beg on the roads in order to fulfil their basic survival needs. “There is an enormous scale of homelessness in advanced industrialized countries such as Canada. In a country of over 34 million people, between 150,000 and 300,000 are homeless, and various levels of government commit from $3-$6 billion to supporting those on the streets. There are structural issues that can increase the risk of homelessness, including threats to income such as a rise in unemployment, low assistance levels for those with disabilities and seniors, lack of social housing and rent supports, insufficient affordable housing, and too many precarious jobs (involving job insecurity, low wages or high risks of ill health). Then there are events in a person’s life that, under the worst circumstances, may lead to homelessness. These personal triggers include such crises as leaving the parental home because of conflict and abuse, marital or relationship breakdown, family violence, death of a spouse, leaving prison, leaving some form of social- or health-sector care, sharp deterioration in mental health, increase in alcohol or drug abuse, mounting debts or eviction from a rented or owned home. In today’s economic uncertainty, these issues have become urgent and threatening.” (Graham, J., Schiff, J., 2010).

Great levels of suicidal rates have also been observed among homeless people. “Coroner records were reviewed for all suicide deaths in Toronto from 1998 to 2012. The study found that 1.8% of people dying by suicide were homeless, a large number given that only about 0.2% of the Toronto population is homeless at a point in time. Homeless people dying by suicide were younger and more likely to be male than non-homeless people dying by suicide. They were also more likely to have been seen by an emergency department or outpatient psychiatrist in the week prior to their death and to have died by falling or jumping. These results provide a descriptive comparison of suicides by homeless and non-homeless per- sons, which is valuable information for formulating preventive strategies.” (Patten, 2017)

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Homeless people are tending to be more bending towards crime. Their survival needs push them to steal and trespass. Sometimes even after being admitted to the shelters, they still keep on pursuing their habits. They do not feel respected by the members of the society, which further influences their criminal behaviour. In this manner, due to its namelessness, the high populace turnover, and the past experience of “nobody minding”, destitute asylums could flag the nearness of the breakdown of network controls, demonstrating to potential offenders that the encompassing territory isn’t engrossed with or has lost control of those areas. (Faraji, S., Ridgeway, G., Wu, Y., 2018)

I have myself seen people on the streets of Kamloops, BC, they begging for donations. Most of them are old people. They spend their nights on the bus stops or on the road crossing. “In England, Canada and the USA, the majority of older homeless people are in their fifties; just 5–10% of homeless adults are in their sixties or older.3, 14,16 In Australia, Spain and some cities of Canada and the USA, however, increasing numbers of people aged 65 and over are homeless.26, 32,38 For example, 5,511 people of this age group in Australia were homeless in 2006, increasing to 6,202 in 2011.32 Predictions suggest that as the ‘baby boom’ generation ages, there will be even higher numbers of homeless people in the older age group (65+ years). In the USA, the number of homeless people aged 65 and over is predicted to rise from 44,172 in 2010 to 58,772 by 2020, and to 92,572 by 2050.49 This assumes that the general population aged 65 and over will increase as predicted by the US Census Bureau, that the percentage of the older population in deep poverty will remain around 2%, as it has since 1975, and that the 2008 ratio of one sheltered elderly homeless person to every 22 elderly people in deep poverty remains constant.”(Joly, L., Crane, M., 2014).

“Homeless individuals experience high rates of bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, major depression, stress and co-occurring substance use disorder These health issues also appear in domains including poor nutrition, injuries, and assaults. For some individuals, deteriorating health can act as a pathway into homelessness and worsen as a result of homelessness. Additionally, people who are homeless frequently encounter barriers to accessing health care and social services despite their high level of need for such services. Given their extensive health issues and poor living conditions, it is not surprising that homeless individuals have high mortality rates and short life expectancies.” (Sylvestre J. et al., 2018).

There are homeless shelters that provide a place to live for those who do not have permanent housing. “Studies suggest that the benefits of this type of public health intervention on its target population and surrounding community are numerous. Comparative evaluations of homeless populations reveal that both sheltered youth and women have better health outcomes than their unsheltered counterparts, with these sheltered populations respectively reporting fewer serious health issues and better physical and mental health Unsurprisingly, occupants of homeless shelters also report greater access to food than their peers on the streets. While compared to the general population sheltered homeless people have a greater mortality rate sheltered homeless populations seem to have fewer risk factors for mortality in comparison to unsheltered homeless individuals.” (Faraji, S., Ridgeway, G., Wu, Y., 2018).

The government cannot just neglect what issues the homeless people are facing. The country cannot grow if this menace keeps on spreading. Leaders and politicians should make it a priority that no one sleeps on the roads and begs for survival needs. Government should be responsible for taking care and providing them with basic monetary funding as well. This will help them feel better both physically and mentally. Employers should not reject homeless applicants just because they do not have a place to live. Their one step of kindness could be a life changing turn for them. Shelters should be easily accessible and medical facilities should be provided free or with the least amount. These steps are essential to bring the number of homeless people to zero.

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