Discrimination refers to intentional or unintentional actions that negatively affect people, based on biases and prejudices. People may experience discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age and/or income. Discrimination is linked to homelessness in several ways. The experience of discrimination in employment, housing and access to services can result in inadequate opportunities, education, income and compromised health, all of which can increase the risk of homelessness.
Research shows that certain marginalized populations (racial minorities, Aboriginal people, sexual minorities) are overrepresented amongst the homeless. At the same time, the very experience of homelessness and extreme poverty can result in discrimination through restricting people’s access to necessary services and supports, and to housing and employment. People who are homeless and who are racial minorities, Aboriginal or sexual minorities face multiple forms of discrimination.
In addition, people who are homeless often experience restricted access to many of the spaces and places that domiciled individuals typically enjoy, including both public (parks, streets, etc.) and private spaces (restaurants, stores and malls, for instance). One negative consequence is that many homeless people are forced, then, to live in dangerous and undesirable environments, which further impairs their ability to move forward with their lives.