Family homelessness is increasing throughout Canada with increasing numbers of families staying in shelters. This national concern is mirrored in Greater Victoria. On one night in February, 2014, 70 families including 105 children were found to be using temporary or emergency accommodation. The number of families counted on one night does not adequately reflect the scope of the problem or the daily challenges that families face who are experiencing housing instability and at risk of homelessness. There are many more families who are couch-surfing and staying in hotels and motels who are experiencing homelessness.
Family homelessness is often hidden from the public eye to avoid child apprehension, violence and loss of supports. Last year, more than 260 families were experiencing a housing crisis in Greater Victoria. These families who experience homelessness are most often single-parent and female led.
Previous research has found that family homelessness is an outcome of a dynamic interplay of factors including violence, poverty and lack of affordable housing. Two previous studies of family homelessness have been conducted in the Capital Region (2001 and 2007). The purpose of this study was to answer the question: What are the pathways into and out of family homelessness? Family homelessness was defined as a caregiver having a child under the age of 19 whether they are with the caregiver or not. In answering this question, we spoke to families at risk or experiencing homelessness, service providers who work with families, and examined the housing and income conditions that contribute to family homelessness.