SHIP works in communities across the province. Though we began in the Region of Peel, we’ve since expanded to serve populations in West Toronto, Dufferin, and most recently, Waterloo. Our mission is to support those with mental health and addictions challenges through safe, affordable and supportive community based housing and services — but to do that, we need to understand the scale and scope of the problem we’re trying to address.
In the Region of Peel, the last Point-in-Time count was conducted in 2018 (which we helped administer). In that survey across Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon, 922 individuals were found to be experiencing homelessness on the night of April 24, 2018. This figure only includes those who were surveyed, observed, or otherwise able to be included in the survey. For example, there is a ‘hidden homeless’ population: those who are temporarily living indoors, perhaps with a friend or a family member for a short term, but have no prospects of accessing permanent housing.
The 2018 Point-in-Time count tells the stories of those experiencing homelessness, and their stories are diverse. A full half of all respondents reported first experiencing homelessness as youths. Six percent of respondents first experienced homelessness only after reaching 55 years of age. 13% of respondents were families. Homelessness can affect those of any age, identity, or upbringing. Almost one-fifth even had jobs, but given the housing crisis we’re facing, employment is no guarantee of avoiding homelessness.
A 2021, surveys were conducted in the other areas where we operate. Dufferin, having by far the smallest population in the most rural context, reported 23 persons experiencing homelessness, though the settlement patterns in Dufferin contributes to a very large hidden homeless phenomenon. The need is likely much greater. In Etobicoke, 980 individuals were estimated to be experiencing homelessness, and the Region of Waterloo had more than 1000.
The problem is real, and dire. We can end homelessness. Understanding the problem is the first step to solving it.