Québec’s national policy to fight homelessness – Together to avoid and get off the street (Politique nationale de lutte à l’itinérance – Ensemble pour éviter la rue et en sortir) defines homelessness as being “a process of social disaffiliation and a situation of social exclusion characterized by a person’s difficulty in having a stable, safe, adequate and healthy home due to a lack of housing or his or her inability to maintain one and, at the same time, in maintaining functional, safe and stable relationships in the community. Homelessness is explained by a combination of social and individual factors that constitute the life experience of men and women”.
According to this definition, homelessness is a process that causes someone to live increasingly on the fringes of society. This process is called “social disaffiliation”. It is this gradual withdrawal caused by an accumulation of events in the course of a person’s life that leads him or her to break ties with the people and resources.
Homelessness is characterized by the inability to have or keep a home. A home is more than just a shelter. It is a place where one feels comfortable and protected. It is one’s own place, a place that others recognize as such. It is a place where one goes to rest and find privacy. Some people have no home. Such is the case, for instance, for people with no fixed address. It is also the case for people who live in unsafe or very unstable housing conditions. These people can end up living on the street or temporarily in a shelter or with people they know.
Homelessness is also characterized by difficulty in maintaining relationships with others and participating actively in society. The feeling of having a home surpasses the fact of having a place to live. It is a feeling that is at the core of a person’s needs and helps him or her to feel good and develop self-esteem and self-confidence. This encourages participation in society and in relationships with those around him or her. Not having a home is much more than just being without shelter for the night.
The duration and frequency of homelessness varies according to people and factors that lead to that situation.
There are generally 3 types of homelessness:
Homelessness is a phenomenon that mainly affects large and mid-size urban areas. Montreal has the highest concentration of homeless people in Québec. Homelessness can also be found in cities that are far from major centres and experience rapid economic growth, like Sept-Îles and Val-d’Or. There is a shortage of housing, people’s lifestyles change and the gap between the rich and the poor widens. As such, building a united community is more difficult.
The reality of homeless people is very similar from one place to another. However, the environment in which they live and the services available to them can vary greatly. The stakes are different in major urban centres, where the concentration of homeless people is higher. There are challenges in terms of services available to the homeless, public safety, coexistence and sharing of public places.
It is often the accumulation and interaction of many factors that can lead someone to experience homelessness.
The risk factors of homelessness can be:
However, not everyone who presents with these risk factors will necessarily end up homeless.
The main social risk factors for homelessness are the following:
Certain factors particular to individuals and their life trajectories can lead to homelessness. The main individual risk factors are the following:
Help is available at all times for:
Whether you are homeless or close to someone who is, here is a list of resources for information or services.
Last update: February 22, 2017 2:13 PM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.