Financial Inclusion for Homeless Persons and Those At Risk: A Step Up on the Ladder of Self-Sufficiency

This report presents the findings from a year-long study of financial inclusion and financial literacy among homeless and insecurely housed Canadians. The project aimed to address the following four knowledge gaps: 1. To explore the nature and extent of financial exclusion among residents in large multiservice shelters across the country; 2. To document and understand the experiences of shelter providers and agencies helping residents maintain current housing (such as rent banks) in addressing the financial inclusion needs of their clients; 3. To document and understand the experiences of residents in shelter housing and those at risk of losing their housing in relation to financial inclusion and financial literacy; 4. To identify appropriate policy responses and intervention models to improve financial literacy and financial inclusion. The study included the following components: ƒ A literature review of previous research on financial exclusion among homeless and at-risk populations; ƒ An environmental scan of existing initiatives that may address financial exclusion among homeless and at-risk populations in the communities of interest; ƒ Key informant interviews with 22 representatives of service providers, researchers and policy-makers; ƒ Focus groups and a written survey of 63 adult Canadians in transitional housing or who are recent users of a rent bank or similar eviction prevention program. Deficits in appropriate and affordable housing may also interact with other forms of exclusion, creating cycles of increased exclusion and risk. In the current study, we consider the interaction between homelessness and access to mainstream financial services. The conceptual model proposes that, without a stable address access to mainstream financial services in Canada is difficult if not impossible. Furthermore, without mainstream financial services, the ability to effectively manage financial resources and acquire new ones is likely to be impaired.

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