Homelessness Prevention

How many of us set alarms in the morning to avoid being late for school or work? Get flu shots to avoid getting sick during the winter? Or use seatbelts to avoid – knock on wood – getting hurt in a car accident? Maybe we do some of these things because the law tells us to, but the common element in each of these scenarios is the word prevention.

Prevention is not a new concept. We use it in so many aspects of our everyday lives but don’t necessarily think of it as prevention.

Well, what exactly is prevention?

Prevention is stopping something before it happens; it is about being proactive rather than reactive.

Let’s consider an example: if a street intersection consistently has traffic accidents, a reactive solution might be to build a nearby hospital to quickly respond to these accidents. On the other hand, a preventative and proactive solution might be to add traffic lights to stop, or realistically to reduce, the number of car accidents. The problem with the reactive solution is that we’re waiting until people are hurt before we step in.


What about homelessness prevention?

When it comes to homelessness in Canada, a reactive solution would be to build homeless shelters that offer individuals a place to shower and sleep. Alternatively, a preventative and proactive solution to homelessness might be to improve landlord-tenant legislation to better protect tenants from being evicted (which may then cause them to be homeless). While having a place to shower and sleep is important, the problem with only building homeless shelters is that we’re waiting until an individual becomes homeless before we help them. This emergency response to homelessness, unfortunately, is very common across Canada.

Happy Family

What are the benefits?

Homelessness prevention is the humane thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do. Evidence shows that it is costlier to use shelters to manage homelessness than it is to prevent it in the first place.

Gaetz finds that individuals who are homeless typically have higher levels of healthcare usage. It consequently incurs higher healthcare costs. Within the criminal justice system, approximately $350,000 can be saved each time an individual is prevented from being homeless.

Despite its cost-effectiveness, prevention initiatives have yet to be widely implemented throughout North America.

At Raising the Roof, we are proud to be one of the first national leaders in homelessness prevention.

Additional reading

Homelessness Prevention

If you’re interested in better understanding homelessness prevention, check out “A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention” by Stephen Gaetz and Erin Dej. This framework outlines the different categories of homelessness prevention (primary, secondary, tertiary), as well as the typology of prevention (structural prevention, systems prevention, early intervention, evictions prevention, and housing stability).

Our Toque Campaign partners

Homelessness Prevention programs

Our Toque Campaign partner agencies are working hard to prevent homelessness in communities across Canada. Check out the map below to find an agency closest to you and learn more about them, how they are preventing homelessness and how you can join them in being part of the solution in your community.

Old Brewery Mission

902 Saint-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, Quebec, H2Z 1J2

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970 Queen Street East Toronto, Ontario M4M 1J8

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Sudbury Action Centre for Youth

95 Pine street, Sudbury, Ontario

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Our Place Peel

3579 Dixie Rd, Mississauga, ON L4Y 2B3

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Windsor Family Homes & Community Partnerships

900 Howard Ave Windsor, ON N9A 1S5

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Redwood Park Communities

barrie ontario

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CERA – Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation

192 Spadina Ave Suite 427 Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 2C2

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Wesley Urban Ministries

52 Catharine Street North Hamilton, ON, L8R IJI

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The Hope Centre

570 King Street Welland

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285 Benjamin Rd Waterloo, ON N2J 3Z4

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Community Care – St. Catharines & Thorold

12 North Street st catherines

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Children’s Aid Foundation of Halton

1445 Norjohn Court Burlington, ON L7L 0E6

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Newfoundland & Labrador Housing & Homelessness Network

77 Charter Avenue, Suite 100 St. John’s, NL, A1A 0N2

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North End Community Renewal Corporation

509 Selkirk Ave. Winnipeg, MB R2W 2M6

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Brunswick Street Mission

2107 Brunswick Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 2Y4

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SHYFT Youth Services

Box 2000, Yarmouth, NS, B5A 0B2

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Harvest House Atlantic

108 High Street, Moncton New Brunswick

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Pacific Community Resources Society

#201 – 2830 Grandview Hwy Vancouver, BC V5M 2C9

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Safe Haven Foundation

Box 609, 7620 Elbow Drive SW Calgary, AB T2V 1K2

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Homeward Trust Edmonton

6th Floor 10242-105 Street Edmonton, AB

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Grande Prairie Youth Emergency Shelter Society – Sunrise House

9309 109 Ave, Grande Prairie, AB T8V 1P9

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