ACT Teams (Assertive Community Team) – is a client-centered, recovery-oriented mental health service delivery model. It has received substantial empirical support for facilitating community living, psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery for persons who have the most serious mental illnesses, severe symptoms and impairments, and have not benefited from traditional outpatient programs. (Reference)
Acuity Scale – best practices approach to right matching of services. Case managers can use the scale to assess numbers and severity of issues for their clients. Alternatively, the scale can be used by management for balancing the time commitment and caseload of an organization overall. (Reference)
Adequate housing – housing that is reported by residents as not requiring any major repairs. Housing that is inadequate may have excessive mould, inadequate heating or water supply, significant damage, etc.
Addictions programs – programs that consists of self-help residential or outpatient treatment facilities, harm reduction programs, individual or group counselling, abstinence-only housing and support from community programs.
Affordable Housing – Any type of housing, including rental/home ownership, permanent/temporary, for-profit/non-profit, that costs less than 30% of a household’s pre-tax income.
All My Relations - an Indigenous philosophy that views all things as connected and linked to families, communities, lands, and ancestors that came before them. Therefore, all beings—animate and inanimate—are viewed as worthy of respect, care, in possession of a purpose, and are related.
At-Risk of Homelessness – people who are not experiencing homelessness, but whose current economic and/or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards. (Reference)
Asset-based approaches - wide-range of projects and initiatives that promote savings and the acquisition of assets among people with low incomes.
Best practice – an intervention, method or technique that has consistently been proven effective through the most rigorous scientific research and has been replicated across several cases or examples.
biphobia -Feelings of rage, hate and disapproval toward bisexuality and bisexual people. Biphobia can be manifested in numerous ways, such as verbally, emotionally and through physical attacks.Busking – a subsistence strategy that refers to providing entertainment for money. The activity is considered to be part of informal economy and is commonly associated with homelessness.
Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN) – was first established in 2008 to bring together researchers, governments, communities and people with lived experience of homelessness in Canada, in order to mobilize research and increase its impact on policy and practice. In 2012, CHRN’s name was changed to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH).
Case Management – a collaborative and client-centered approach to service provision for persons experiencing homelessness. In this approach, a case worker assesses the needs of the client (and potentially their families) and when appropriate, arranges, coordinates and advocates for delivery and access to a range of programs and services to address the individual’s needs.
Case studies – Detailed examples of particular agencies, programs, systems or activities that highlight success or failure of their implementation, as well as lessons learned.
Cisgender - When a person’s gender identity matches with their body and sex assigned at birth.
Cissexism - The belief that transgender people are inherently inferior to cisgender people.
Cisnormative - The assumption that all, or almost all, individuals are cisgender, unless otherwise specified.
Chronic disease – a long-lasting medical condition that cannot be prevented by vaccines, or in many instances, be cured.
Collaborative - is the term used to describe loosely affiliated networks as well as more formal partnerships between people working across departments, organizations or sectors. Unlike integration, collaboration does not require formal infrastructure to merge work processes across organizational sites.
Co-location - refers to the practice of housing services in a single location to improve service access and communication/collaboration between service providers.
Coming out - The process of coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and disclosing it to others. Others typically assume heterosexuality and fixed gender states that fit into the binary of female and male; therefore, coming out is an ongoing process.
Community services - any programs delivered through non-profit or faith-based community organizations to assist people experiencing homelessness.
Community based mental health care - encompasses a wide variety of programs and services designed to meet local needs that are delivered primarily by community agencies and sometimes through hospitals or health clinics.
Concurrent Disorders (Dual Diagnosis) - describes a condition in which a person has both a mental illness and a substance use problem.
Coordinated assessment - a standardized approach to assessing a person’s current situation, the acuity of their needs and the services they currently receive and may require in the future. It takes into account the background factors that contribute to risk and resilience, changes in acuity, and the role of friends, family, caregivers, community and environmental factors.
Cooperation - refers to expressions of interest and support between organizations.
Coordinated intake - a standardized approach to assessing a person’s current situation, the acuity of their needs and the services they currently receive and may require in the future. It takes into account the background factors that contribute to risk and resilience, changes in acuity, and the role friends, family, caregivers, community and environmental factors.
Core housing need – when a household spends more than 30% of its pre-tax income on housing costs.
Demonstration projects - are large-scale studies focused on a theory or concept that has already gone through an initial testing process to sort out any logistical and/or core issues. The focus of the demonstration project is, as the name suggests, to demonstrate the value of the theory or concept by allowing as much relevant information as possible to be collected. This information is then evaluated by researchers and used to assess the effectiveness of the theory or concept.
Discharge planning - preparing someone to move from an institutional setting (child welfare system, criminal justice system, hospital etc) into a non-institutional setting either independently or with certain supports in place.
Discrimination - refers to intentional or unintentional actions that negatively affect people, based on biases and prejudices.
Early intervention strategies – refers to strategies designed to work quickly to support individuals and families to either retain their housing, or to use rapid rehousing strategies.
Emergency response – providing emergency supports like shelter, food and day programs while someone is experiencing homelessness.
Emergency sheltered – staying in overnight emergency shelters designed for people who are experiencing homelessness.
Emerging practice – interventions that are new, innovative and hold promise based on some level of evidence of effectiveness or change that is not research-based and/or sufficient to be deemed a “promising” or “best” practice.
Empowerment evaluation – refers to the application of evaluation techniques in facilitating self-determination.
Enforcement - interventions that seek to strengthen community safety by responding to the crimes and community disorder issues associated with the importing, manufacturing, cultivating, distributing, possessing and using legal and illegal substances.
Eviction prevention – refers to any strategy or program, usually geared at renters that is designed to keep individuals and families in their home and that helps them avoid homelessness.
Episodically Homeless - Refers to those who move in and out of homelessness
Family and natural supports - include family, friends and community. By providing young people with family and natural supports that align with ‘place-based’ supports (ex. schools), we reduce the probability that a young person will leave their community in search of supports and become mired in homelessness.
Family reconnection (and reunification) - client-driven case-management approach that seeks to identify and nurture opportunities to strengthen relationships and resolve conflicts between young people who leave home and their caregivers.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - is an umbrella term used to describe the range of disabilities and diagnoses that result from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
First Nations – refers to one of three distinct groups recognized as “Aboriginal” in the Constitution Act of 1982. The Métis and the Inuit are the other two distinct groups characterized as “Aboriginal” and should never be referred to as “First Nations.”
According to the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations population represents over 50 distinct nations and language groups and is made up of 634 First Nations communities (or “reserves”). (Reference)
Follow-Up Support Workers (FSW) – this position refers to an individual who helps an already housed client maintain their housing and connects the client with resources and services in the community.
FTM - A person who was assigned female at birth, but identifies as male. Also known as trans man or transgender man. FTM is the acronym for Female-to-Male.
Gender expansive - An umbrella term sometimes used in place of ‘gender non-binary’ or ‘gender nonconforming’ to describe individuals with gender identities and expressions that expand and broaden definitions of cisnormative and gender-normative identities.
Gender fluid - Refers to a gender identity that varies and fluctuates over time. A person who identifies as gender fluid may have an identity that alternates between female, male and any other gender identity.
Gender identity - Gender identity is a person’s subjective experience of their own gender. It is a deep internal feeling of whether they are female, male, genderqueer or anywhere else along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or differ from the sex assigned to them at birth.
Gender non-binary - A term used to describe individuals who do not subscribe or conform to the gender binary. Gender non-binary is also used an umbrella term for those who do not identify exclusively as female or male.
Gender normative - Refers to people conforming to what is considered culturally appropriate feminine and masculine behaviour.
Gender queer - A self-identity category/term used to describe individuals who do not subscribe or conform to the gender binary, but identify as neither, both, or a combination of male and female.
Grey literature - refers to research or reports produced and published by government and by community-based agencies (as opposed to those published in an academic journal).
Hard skills – refers to the learning of marketable skills, such as carpentry, computer repair or restaurant work, that increase the employability of people wanting to get jobs.
Harm Reduction – referrers to policies, programs and practices aimed at reducing the risks and negative effects associated with substance use and addictive behaviors for the individual, the community and society as a whole.
HART (Homelessness Assets and Risk Tools) – a tool used to measure risk of homelessness.
Heteronormative - The belief that heterosexuality is the ‘normal’ sexual orientation. Also refers to the belief that female and male gender roles are fixed.
Heterosexism - A system of attitudes, biases, and discrimination in favour of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships, including the assumption that all people are heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are superior.
Hidden homelessness – refers specifically to persons who live temporarily with others without the guarantee of continued residency or immediate prospects for accessing permanent housing.
Homelessness – Homelessness describes the situation of an individual, family or community without stable, safe, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless, and the experience is generally negative, unpleasant, unhealthy, unsafe, stressful and distressing. See the Canadian Definition of Homelessness.
Homecare and continuing care - refers to a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services that may be offered in the home, in the community or in a hospital or medical setting.
Homophobia - Feelings of rage, hate and disapproval of homosexuality. Homophobia can be manifested in numerous ways, such as verbally, emotionally and through physical attacks.
Horizontal integration – describes a centralized approach to planning, management and service delivery across a network of organizations/institutions within a sector or between sectors.
Housing accommodation and supports – refers to the provision of housing and ongoing supports as a means of moving people out of homelessness.
Housing First – a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing. It is followed by provision of additional supports and services as needed.
Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) - a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that adapts the approach to the needs of young people. It centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing. It is followed by provision of additional supports and services as needed.
Housing exclusion - the failure of society to ensure that adequate systems, funding and support are in place so that all people, even in crisis situations, have access to housing.
Housing Managers (General Managers) – refers to the individual in charge of the a housing project or building(s).
Housing policy - refers to the actions of government, including legislation and program delivery, which have a direct or indirect impact on housing supply and availability, housing standards and urban planning.
Housing workers - individuals employed, usually by community agencies/non-profits but sometimes working directly for a specific level of government, who are able to assist individuals in finding housing and supporting them with the related services that are part of that process.
ICM (Integrated Case Management) teams – refers to a team approach taken to co-ordinate various services for a specific child and/or families through a cohesive and sensible plan. The team should include all service providers who have a role in implementing the plan, and whenever possible, the child or youth's family. (Reference)
Indigenous Homelessness - a definition of homelessness that takes into account Canada’s legacy of marginalization and displacement of Indigenous Peoples, created through settler colonialism. It requires an understanding of the Indigenous philosophy “All My Relations” as Indigenous homelessness and the Indigenous concept of “home” goes beyond one’s physical structure of habitation.
Indigenous Peoples – is a blanket term to encompass the diversity of Canada’s Indigenous population including First Nations, Metis and Inuit. It should be noted it could be ambiguous in some contexts: a reference to “Indigenous Peoples in Canada” could include Maori or American Indian (U.S.) people living in Canada. In contexts in which legal specificity to people originating in Canada is important, such as “The Indigenous Peoples of Canada.”
“Peoples” recognizes that more than one distinct group comprises the Indigenous population of Canada and is always capitalized. (Reference)
The term “Aboriginal” is no longer used.
Individual and relational factors – apply to the personal circumstances of a homeless person, and may include: traumatic events, personal crisis, mental health and addictions challenges, which can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness and physical health problems or disabilities. Relational problems can include family violence and abuse, addictions, mental health problems of other family members and extreme poverty.
Infectious disease - illnesses caused by viruses or bacteria that are spread between people or from animals to people. Researchers on homelessness and infectious disease often focus their investigation on Hepatitis A, B and C, tuberculosis, HIV/ AIDS and a range of sexually transmitted infections.
Informal Economy - economic activities that fall outside the formal labor market. Generally, refers to production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that are not accounted for in formal measurements of the economy.
Integration – Please see System integration.
Inuit - are descended from the ancient Thule people and have occupied parts of Canada’s northernmost regions thousands of years before European arrival.
Life skills – these are the skills that are essential for living independently and includes skills such as managing money, shopping, cooking, etc.
Linguicide - (McCarty, Romero, & Zepeda, 2006): a key tool employed by the Canadian state which involved the calculated extermination of Indigenous languages, and the intentional undermining and, destruction of essential Indigenous social systems, cultures and worldviews. This continues to produce—traumas, responsible for the numerous challenges faced by Indigenous individuals, families, communities and Nations. (Christensen, 2013)
LGBTQ2S –The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, and Two-Spirit people.
Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab (MtS) - was launched in April 2017 to build an evidence base on effective practices for Canada. Its aim is to learn from and support communities and policy-makers in shifting our national response to youth homelessness, from one that is over-reliant on shelters and emergency services, to one favouring prevention and Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) measures. Read more about MtS.
Meaningful engagement - has a few different meanings for work with homeless persons. This type of engagement includes involving homeless persons in community-based research, creating participatory evaluations or providing supports and activities that foster growth, independence and full participation in society.
Measuring integration – refers to efforts in assessing the degree to which clients are receiving appropriately integrated services and/or used to improve coordination efforts.
Métis – people are descendants of mixed Indigenous and European ancestry have their own culture, language (Michif), traditional homeland (the Métis Nation Homeland includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Northern United States) and sense of nationhood (Métis National Council 201- 3).
Motivational interviewing – an evidence-based practice in working with clients that has proven to be successful. In this approach, the service provider allows the client to direct the change rather than telling the client what they need to do. This approach is about having a conversation about change.
MTF - A person who was assigned male at birth, but identifies as female. Also known as trans woman or transgender woman. MTF is the acronym for Male-to-Female.
NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) – describes when residents of a neighbourhood designate a new development (e.g. shelter, affordable housing, group home) or change in occupancy of an existing development as inappropriate or unwanted for their local area.
Street outreach – incredibly important work that involves moving outside the walls of the agency to engage people experiencing homelessness who may be disconnected and alienated not only from mainstream services and supports, but from the services targeting homeless persons as well.
Outreach programs – services and programs involved in bringing services directly to where people are rather that requiring someone to go into an agency.
Palliative care - services provided to those in the end stages of their life either from old age or serious illness.
Pandemic – a sudden and in most cases severe outbreak of a disease or virus that spreads across regions and around the globe.
Pandemic planning – a form of disaster management, pandemic planning is an attempt to prepare and coordinate systems, resources and communications in an effort to ameliorate the impact of the spread of virulent disease.
Panhandling – a subsistence strategy that refers to begging for money, food and other items. The activity is considered to be part of informal economy and is commonly associated with homelessness.
Pansexual - When a person is sexually, romantically and emotionally attracted to people of all gender identities and sexes.
Participatory evaluation – refers to an evaluation process whereby the people who are being studied or who make up the users of the project are included in development, design and other stages of the evaluation.
Permanent supportive/Supported housing – combines rental or housing assistance with individualized flexible and voluntary support services for people with high needs related to physical or mental health, development disabilities and substance use. It is an option to house chronically homeless individuals with high acuity.
Point-in-Time (PiT) counts - provide a “snapshot” of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a specific date (usually one day but occasionally up to a week) in a community.
Poverty – There is a lack of international consensus on the definition of poverty. In Canada, there is no officially adopted and employed definition of poverty. Due to this shortcoming, Statistics Canada employs Low-Income Cut-Off (LIC) as a tool in identifying individuals and families who are substantially worse off than the average.
Prevalence counts - provide an alternative to the PiT counts and are often used in some small and rural communities. They determine how many people were homeless over a set period in time.
Prevention - refers to one of the main strategies in addressing homelessness that aims to stop people from becoming homeless in the first place. See A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention.
Primary prevention – refers to working upstream to reduce risks of homelessness for individuals and families. Typically involves universal interventions directed at whole communities. See A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention.
Program fidelity evaluation - extent to which delivery of an intervention adheres to the protocols and program model originally developed.
Promising practice – an intervention for which there is sufficient evidence to claim that the practice is proven effective at achieving a specific aim or outcome consistent with the goal and objectives of the activity or program, but is not yet strongly documented enough to become a best practice.
Provisionally accommodated - referring to those whose accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure.
Queer - A term that has been reclaimed by LGBTQ2S people as a self-identity for those who do not identify with binary terms that describe sexual, gender, and political identities.
Racialized Communities (Visible Minority) – encompasses all people that are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour. Indigenous Peoples in Canada are sometimes excluded from this definition, but should not be.
Racism - a form of prejudice and discrimination directed towards someone based on one’s race, which produces impenetrable systemic and societal barriers.
Rapid re-housing – an approach to housing that is similar to Housing First as it has no “readiness requirement.” This approach is best suited for people experiencing episodic and transitional homelessness, however.
Reserves - are regions of land allocated exclusively to Indigenous Peoples (typically First Nations bands) as per the Indian Act and treaties, but are not actually owned by those people. Instead, the Crown holds the parcel of land in trust for the band.
Respite accommodation – refers to services that provide young people with emergency supports as an alternative to the shelter system.
Scattered site housing – housing that is provided at individual locations, usually in the private rental market, as opposed to an affordable housing building or project.
Secondary prevention – typically refers to strategies that target people who are clearly at risk of, or who have recently become homeless and can include system prevention. See A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention.
Self-care – the process of maintaining and promoting one’s health, wellbeing and development to meet the everyday challenges and stressors.
Service coordination - describes inter- or intra-organizational efforts to support individuals across a range of services.
Severe housing needs – when a household spends more than 50% of its pre-tax income on housing costs.
Severe mental illness - defined as a serious and persistent mental or emotional disorder (e.g. schizophrenia, mood-disorders, schizo-affective disorders) that interrupts people’s abilities to carry out a range of daily life activities such as self-care, interpersonal relationships, maintaining housing, employment or stay in school.
Sex trade - It is broad and encompasses a variety of activities including escort services, street-level sex workers, pornography, exotic dancing, massage, internet work, phone sex operators and third-party support (drivers, managers, bartenders etc.).
Sexual identity - How a person identifies to whom they are sexually and romantically attracted (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, etc.)
Shelter diversion – a strategy targeting homeless youth that refers to the provision of alternative temporary housing options, supports and interventions designed to reduces the young people reliance on emergency shelter system.
Shelter inventories - counts the number of beds available in a shelter system (which may or may not include Violence Against Women shelters) and determines what percentage of these beds are occupied on a given night.
Shelter workers (Residential Counsellor) – refers to individuals working in a shelter who provide support to the residents to help maintain order in the shelter and to help the residents achieve success in transitioning to housing.
Social enterprise - revenue-generating businesses that focus on creating socially related good.
Social housing – any housing that is funded/subsidized by a level of government.
Soft skills – refers the range of skills that help someone obtain and maintain employment such as resume preparation and job search. It also refers to “life skills” training such as shopping, cooking and managing money.
Squeegeeing - a subsistence strategy that refers to washing car windshields for money. The activity is considered to be part of informal economy and is commonly associated with homelessness.
Structural factors – are economic and societal issues that affect opportunities and social environments for individuals.
Substance use - refers to all types of drug and alcohol use.
Substance use prevention - interventions that seek to delay the onset of substance use, or to avoid substance use problems before they occur.
Suitable housing - housing has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the resident household, according to National Occupancy Standard (NOS) requirements.
Support workers (SW) – are usually assigned individual clients to monitor and conduct case management with in order to place clients into housing.
System of care - strengths-based, culturally relevant, participatory framework for working with children and families.
System integration – formalized coordinated approach to planning, service delivery, and management. An integrated system is an intentional, coordinated, suite of services that is centrally funded and managed. Systems integration aims to align services to avoid duplication, improve information-sharing, increase efficiency (e.g., reduce wait-times), and provide a seamless care experience for individuals and families.
Systems failures – occur when other systems of care and support fail, requiring vulnerable people to turn to the homelessness sector, when other mainstream services could have prevented this need.
System prevention – refers to working with mainstream institutions to stop the flow of individuals from mental health care, child protection and corrections into homelessness.
The Pass System - a system repealed in 1951, said to have been implemented to grant Indian Affairs Agents control over business activities on reserves. In reality, it led to a prison-like system where First Nations Peoples required permission from Agents to leave reserves.
Tertiary prevention – refers to strategies intended to slow the progression of and treat a condition. It also refers to rehabilitation efforts to reduce the recurrence of the problem.
Transitional housing – refers to supportive, yet temporary type of accommodation that is meant to bridge the gap from homelessness to permanent housing by offering structure, supervision, support, life skills, education, etc.
Trauma - an event outside the range of usual human experiences that would be markedly distressing to almost anyone and cause victimization.
Transgender - A term used to describe people whose gender identity does not match with the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender is also used as an umbrella term and can encompass those who identify as gender queer and gender fluid and whose gender identities challenge gender norms. Transgender is an adjective, and should never be used as a noun. For example, say “Chris is a transgender person,” not, “Chris is a transgender.” It is never necessary to add an ‘-ed’ to the end of ‘transgender.’
Transition - When a transgender individual begins to live life in the gender with which they identify, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. For some, this includes changing one’s first name and/or other legal documents (e.g., health card, driver’s licence, etc.), dressing differently, taking hormones and/or undergoing surgery. Each person’s transition is different and deeply personal.
Transmisogyny - The confluence of misogyny and transphobia. Negative attitudes, expressed through individual and state violence, harassment and discrimination directed toward transgender women and trans and gender-expansive people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum.
Transphobia - Feelings of rage, hate and disapproval toward transgender people or people who are gender-nonconforming. Transphobia can be manifested in numerous ways, such as verbally, emotionally and through physical attacks.
Two-Spirit - This term is culturally specific to people of Indigenous ancestry and refers to Indigenous Peoples who identify with both a male and a female spirit. This term is not exclusive to gender identity, and can also refer to sexual orientation.
Transitionally Homeless - Refers to short-term homelessness, usually less than a month.
Unsheltered – living on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation.
Vertical integration - describes a centralized approach to planning, management, and service delivery within a single organizational context.
Vulnerability index – an index used to determine mortality risk.
Wrap-around – refers to a service delivery model that is a team-based, collaborative case management approach.
Youth Assessment Prioritization (YAP) Tool - a strength-based assessment of youth who are experiencing, or are at-risk of experiencing, homelessness that strives to be as non-clinical and non-prescriptive as possible. YAP is an assessment that is undertaken when a vulnerable young person comes into contact with the service system. Read more about the YAP Tool.
Youth choice - “youth choice” is a Core Principle in the Housing First for Youth ethos. Young people having the opportunity to make decisions that are pertinent to their own lives.
Youth homelessness – Youth homelessness refers to young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, and lack many of the social supports deemed necessary for the transition from childhood to adulthood. See the Canadian Definition of Youth Homelessness.
Youth who leave home - refers to youth who choose to leave home/parents/caretakers for various reasons. This is the term the COH uses instead of "runaway youth."
Youth Reconnect - is a preventative intervention designed to support vulnerable young people in the communities where they have developed social connections and support, instead of requiring youth to travel to large urban centres; research has shown that during this journey to larger cities, youth are increasingly vulnerable to addictions, sexual exploitation, violence, and criminal involvement. Youth Reconnect was first developed in Australia and later adapted for use in Canada.