Federal Spending to Address Homelessness

In response to interest from Parliamentarians and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, this self-initiated report provides an update on federal spending to address homelessness.


Over the term of Canada’s National Housing Strategy, 2018-19 to 2027-28, actual and planned spending on homelessness programs at Infrastructure Canada averages $561 million per year. This is an increase in nominal spending of $443 million per year (374%) over the prior 10-years.

This funding is almost entirely allocated to “Reaching Home”, which funds communities to reduce and prevent homelessness. This funding helps those communities to provide housing supports and associated services to tens of thousands of people annually who are either homeless or at risk of imminent homelessness. From 2019-20 to 2022-23, this funding has supported placements in more stable housing for 17,849 people annually, emergency housing funding for 5,399 people annually, and core prevention services for 31,164 people annually.

The best available evidence suggests that homelessness has increased in spite of Reaching Home. In the latest point in time count published by Infrastructure Canada, the number of homeless people had increased by 20% relative to 2018 reaching 34,270, and we estimate that the number of chronically homeless people had increased by 38% relative to 2018. The number of individuals living in unsheltered locations also increased 88%.

We estimate that interventions funded by Reaching Home are reducing the point-in time count of homeless persons by about 6,000 individuals (15%), relative to what the count would have been without those interventions. We estimate that achieving a 50% reduction in chronic homelessness would require an additional $3.5 billion per year, approximately a 7-fold increase in funding over the National Housing Strategy average.

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