Migratory and Transient Homelessness in Northern Ontario, Canada

Abstract:  This study fills a gap in the literature by expanding knowledge about migratory/transient homelessness in a northern Ontario context. Con-ducted in Sudbury (Ontario) Canada, this multi-methods study included an analysis of existing quan-titative and qualitative data (from 2000-2007), a sur-vey of homeless persons (2009) and focus groups with service users and providers (2009). Key findings indicate that migrants constitute about a fifth to a quarter of the local homeless population. Over three-quarters had come from Ontario communities, typi-cally in northeastern or southern Ontario. There was no clear pattern of increases in the number of migrants in the summer compared to winter. Recent and intermediate-term migrants were similar in a number of respects: most were men, most did not have custody of any children, and the cultural back-grounds reflected the linguistic/cultural composition of the local homeless population. Indigenous people comprised a significant proportion of homeless migrants as they do among Sudbury’s homeless peo-ple in general. Most migrants, especially recent and intermediate-term migrants, were absolutely homeless and nearly all had migrated because of unemployment or low wages. The challenges for migrants are com-pounded by isolation and difficulties in finding/ac-cessing services in a new community. Migrants often include the most disadvantaged persons among the homeless, thus increasing existing pressures on ser-vice systems. 

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