In Canada, no one is born into homelessness (well, not absolutely, but I’ll blog about that later). The moment of homelessness, regardless of what precipitates it, is about people running out of funds to support their housing. For most, this means being on social assistance and being unable to afford rent. At this point people are able to apply for subsidized housing, but has I have mentioned many times, the wait list for this in London is 8-9 years.
So, on social assistance a single adult receives a $350 housing allowance, and average market rent for a bachelor in London is $580. This means that people tap into other resources for housing. This can include staying at a motel, couch surfing, doubling up, sleeping rough, finding a single room in what is often a slum house, or whatever else people can come up with. For many, they are able to maintain these resources until subsidized housing kicks in, or until they get off social assistance. However, for others, these options run out. It is once these options have been exhausted that people become homeless.
So, to become homeless is a process of being de-housed. It is an experience of having a place to stay, and then no longer having a place to stay. I reject the hypothesis that some people just can’t be housed, because (almost) everyone who is homeless has been housed at some point. Instead, there are some people that are system cannot adequately support.