Homelessness an existential risk among newcomers, immigrants

Homelessness an existential risk among newcomers, immigrants

Homelessness an existential risk among newcomers, immigrants

A growing number of newcomers and immigrants are ending up in shelters or going homeless altogether, according to two related reports just released by Employment and Social Development Canada.

A “point-in-time” analysis of homelessness in 61 communities found that around 14% of homeless people were newcomers to Canada. As much as 8% identified themselves as immigrants, while 3% were refugees and 4% were refugee claimants.

Meanwhile, the national shelter study covering federal data from 2005 to 2016 indicated an “observable increase” in refugees using shelters.

As of 2016, approximately 2,000 refugees were residing in shelters. This does not even count refugee-specific facilities.

The phenomenon is stemming from a severe lack of supply in the locales where refugees are settling, according to Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Last year, the City of Toronto estimated that roughly 40% of its shelter occupants were refugees or asylum claimants. Montreal is also harbouring a significant number of those who are awaiting the results of their refugee claims.

“Many of them are coming to Toronto in Ontario, and to Quebec, and in those communities, the rental market is just really tight and we just don’t have the capacity to house them,” Richter told The Canadian Press.

“Homelessness is a function of housing affordability, availability and income. When you’re new to Canada, you generally won’t have the income to be able to buy a house, and there’s just not enough affordable housing options.”