There is limited data on the hidden homeless population in Canada and large connection barriers affect organizations’ abilities to reach them. Because of these factors, it’s hard to know exactly how many people experience hidden homelessness in Canada.
This Solutions Lab explores the complex challenges faced by people experiencing hidden homelessness in Saskatoon. The Lab will create a framework to help decision-makers identify a clearer and more widely recognized definition of groups living in hidden homelessness. This definition will enable better housing policies and programs to help serve the hidden homeless population.
3 Key Findings
Identify the gaps in data and understanding of homelessness to reduce year-over-year homelessness.
Contribute to greater social inclusion for individuals and families experiencing housing insecurity and hidden homelessness across Saskatoon.
Collaboratively work with sectors and people to co-create a framework that protects vulnerable people from hidden homelessness across Saskatoon. The framework can then be scaled for use across Canada.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Accessing hidden homelessness with community inclusion
Homelessness is more of a widespread issue in Canada than we traditionally think of. Hidden homelessness refers to people who live temporarily with friends, family or strangers or in temporary accommodations with no long-term housing security. Hidden homelessness affects a wide range of people inducing:
- single mothers with children living with grandparents
- couch-surfing seasonal workers
- Indigenous youth
- newcomers living with another family
This Lab will gather service providers and individuals who have existing relationships with people experiencing homelessness. These partners will help provide an understanding of the experiences of different homeless populations face. For example, school staff can provide insights into cases where women with children experiencing hidden homelessness may be missed by other service providers. Library staff may be uniquely placed to observe the experience of hidden homeless populations as these public spaces provide community resources.
Understanding hidden homelessness
This Lab will use a collaborative and community-based approach to define the needs of people experiencing hidden homelessness in Saskatoon. The scope of hidden homelessness is unclear because of:
- gaps in data collection
- gaps in studies
- unreliable examples provided by overrepresented groups
This Lab will work to prioritize the important data available to better estimate the extent of hidden homelessness and understand its dynamics. Decision-makers can use this information to create more effective local solutions.
A tested framework will be created from the Lab’s findings. This framework will include considerations for causes of homelessness and potential interventions for hidden homelessness. The framework will help decision-makers such as governments and social-service agencies in developing programs and policies to improve housing security across the country.
In the short term, this Lab aims to identify the scale of hidden homelessness in Saskatoon and develop effective solutions. In the long term, this framework can be used to address the issue by decision-makers in cities across Canada.
The goal of estimating the size, make-up and supports needed for groups impacted can only be achieved with a wide-reaching approach. Hidden homelessness is not a problem that can be solved by one organization or sector. Resolving it requires an innovative approach.
This Lab will bring stakeholders together and create a 5-phase approach:
- The Definition Phase will create authority and a general agreement to guide the project.
- The Discovery Phase is intended to host research and complete a review of existing information. It will map the journey of people with lived experience of hidden homelessness and include working groups to create a better understanding of the issue.
- In the Development Phase, online workshops will help guide the design and methods for support delivery. This phase will also include sub-committee and group meetings to discuss what knowledge to share for further progress outside the project.
- The Prototype and Test Phase will review the created approach to solving hidden homelessness. It will include working group sessions and summarized reports to evaluate the design and project delivery.
- In the Roadmap Phase, the project team will communicate a clear understanding of the recommended solution to be delivered. It will also include instructions on how it can be replicated beyond the initial project plan.
Sharing the Lab’s findings
The Lab’s communications team will work together to produce professionally designed:
- knowledge products
- social media kits
- outreach strategies
These resources will ensure that the products are shared widely among stakeholders in Saskatoon. They’ll also be shared across other provinces as opportunities arise throughout the course of the project.
- Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR)
- Annie Hodgins – Canadian Centre for Housing Rights
- Bahar Shadpour – Canadian Centre for Housing Rights
- Andrew Cerkowniak – Canadian Centre for Housing Rights
- Sarah Buhler, Associate Professor – Community-University Institute for Social Research (CUISR)
- Dr. Isobel Findlay, University Co-Director – Community-University Institute for Social Research (CUISR)
- Fiona Wright – CTLabs | The Lansdowne Consulting Group
- Bryn Ferris – CTLabs | The Lansdowne Consulting Group
Get More Information:
Visit the National Housing Strategy’s Innovation page.
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for important updates on the progress of this lab.