The Faces of Homelessness

July 11, 2014 | Written by

Canada and especially Victoria are celebrated as a diverse and multi-ethnic community. Despite this, we often hold stereotypical perceptions about who experiences homelessness in Victoria. The streets of downtown Victoria create a very visual perspective of what homelessness looks like, and who is homeless. However, homelessness affects more people than we can imagine. By now it should be no secret that there is a massive ‘hidden homeless’ population. Current estimates indicate that for every 1 homeless person you see, there are 3 more ‘hidden.’ While this makes estimating the size of the homeless population difficult, it also makes it difficult to understand who is affected by housing instability. Several studies by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness have shed some light into who faces housing instability in the Greater Victoria Region.

Who is Homeless in Victoria?

Single Adult Males between the ages of 25-55 represent 47% of the homeless population in Victoria.

Youth represent 20% of the homeless population. The causes of homelessness in youth can be distinctly different than those for adults. Often youth homelessness is a response to poverty or abusive home environment.

Aboriginal people are over represented among homeless populations in Victoria and across Canada. Homelessness among Aboriginal people is an affect of current and historic experiences of colonization, racism and cultural difference. Any effort to end homelessness needs to include, listen, and learn from Aboriginal voices. Another limiting factor is the Indian Act, which determines who ‘qualifies’ as an Indigenous First Nations.

Women and families often experience homelessness as a result of violence and poverty. Evidence suggests that family homelessness is a growing problem in Canada.

Growing Homelessness in Victoria

Data collected from 5 emergency sheltered over the course of several years suggest that homelessness is a growing problem in Victoria:

  1. Emergency shelters are stretched beyond capacity, moving from 86% occupancy in 2008-2009 to 112% occupancy in 2012-2013
  2. those attempting to access emergency shelters has increased 2.7%

Definition of “Homelessness”

Homelessness in Victoria is a spectrum of unstable housing conditions. The Canadian Definition of Homelessness describes homelessness as a range of physical living situations, organized here into four categories. Homelessness and housing exclusion include:

When discussing homelessness, many people refer to chronic homelessness. It should be noted that for many people, homelessness is not a static state but rather a fluid experience, where one’s housing circumstances may shift and change quite dramatically and with frequency.

 Anawim’s Dream:

Anawim house is a men’s recovery house for those experiencing homelessness, mental health, and addiction. We are able to provide permanent housing for 7 people, and provide food, laundry and other services to hundreds more.  However, the people at Anawim would like to be able to do more. It is our long term goal to create an Anawim house for women, and an Anawim house for youths, so that we can help all peoples who are facing homelessness.

The Anawim Companion Society

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Written by Brian Whin-Yates

Social Media Director






Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness

(2013) “Housing and Homelessness in Greater Victoria” Andrew Wynn-Williams.

(2013) “Facing Homelessness: Greater Victoria Report on Housing & Supports 2012/2013” Addictions Research of BC.

(2012) “Quiet Crisis: Homelessness and At Risk in Greater Victoria” Greater Victoria Report on Housing & Supports. University of Victoria. Center for Addictions Research of BC.

Victoria Foundation. “Gap Between Rich and Poor”


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