Canada needs a gender-inclusive definition of homelessness

Housing is a human right. For many women and gender-diverse people across the country, this right is not being realized. In fact, their right to adequate housing is being impeded by policies that do not consider their specific needs and circumstances.

While Canada has committed to the right to housing, it has not adopted the broad definition of homelessness that has recently been recognized by the United Nations. Definitions of “homelessness” and “chronic homelessness” used in government policy do not reflect the distinct ways women, girls, women-led families, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people experience homelessness. Definitions tend to be Eurocentric and fail to account for Indigenous ways of understanding and experiencing homelessness. 

The government has instead relied on a narrow definition of “chronic homelessness” when implementing programs that address homelessness under its National Housing Strategy (NHS). This narrow definition excludes hidden homelessness which is the most common way women and gender-diverse people experience homelessness. Experiences of hidden homelessness means staying temporarily with acquaintances or family members, remaining in dangerous or substandard conditions, being unable to leave abusive relationships, and/or trading sex and companionship for a place to stay. 

We need a new and inclusive definition of homelessness!

The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR), the Women’s National Housing and Homelessnes Network (WNHHN) and the National Indigenous Housing Network (NIHN) are calling on the federal government to change its narrow definition of homelessness to include the experiences of women, girls and gender-diverse people.  

Send a letter now to:

  • The Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau
  • The Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion – Ahmed Hussen
  • The Minister of Women, Gender Equality, and Youth – Marci Ien

Send a message to the Canadian government

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