Shomporko Desk:-TORONTO – A new survey shows the number of Canadians who’ve experienced homelessness in their lives might be higher than revealed – and could ascend because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study, authorized by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) and led by Nanos Research, proposes five per cent of Canadians have been homeless themselves, while another 31 per cent know someone who has been homeless.
Tim Richter, the president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, said this five per cent means 1.6 million Canadians, a higher number than he’s seen beforehand.
When it comes to people who rent, 11 per cent reported having experienced homelessness, while 25 per cent of renters are worried about coming up with rent for the next month.
“That’s a fairly alarming stat that I think really points to the urgency of Canada’s housing crisis and the impact of COVID,” Richter said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, several provinces, including Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, implemented moratoria on evictions, but many of those are ending or have already ended, while renters are still dealing with the economic consequences of the virus, which could leave them in a tough position.
Richter worries that the number of people experiencing homelessness may rise due to this uncertainty.
“If the economic impact of the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect lower-income Canadians who are essential workers who are working in lower-income jobs or have insecure employment, you’re certainly going to see that pressure,” he said.
In July, CAEH released its “Recovery for All” plan, which suggested homelessness could be solved by 2030 if the federal government used $52 billion worth of COVID-19 economic recovery measures in targeted spending to help end homelessness.
More than 80 per cent of Canadians said they would at least somewhat support the investment of affordable housing projects, and 72 per cent of Canadians believe urgent work, such as affordable housing projects, is required to help end homelessness.
Under the Recovery for All plan, the budget would be used in part to create more than 370,000 affordable housing units in the next 10 years and converting hotels and apartments into affordable housing units. The organization says this would create up to 500,000 jobs over the next 10 years and could save taxpayers $18 billion that would have been used on emergency measures that leave people homeless.
“We’ve shared our proposals and we’re sharing the results of this poll with decision-makers in Ottawa and we’re hopeful that they’re going to see an achievable path forward and strong public support to do so,” Richter said.
While it can be hard to accurately tabulate the number of Canadians experiencing homelessness, the State of Homelessness in Canada 2016 — which Richter co-authored — estimated that at least 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year and 35,000 Canadians experience homelessness on a given night.
Photo credit: Collected
News source: CTV News