National Shelter Study – Emergency shelter use in Canada 2005 to 2016

The National Shelter Study – Emergency shelter use in Canada 2005 to 2016 uses emergency shelter data collected from 2005 to 2016 to establish a baseline count and description of the characteristics of the homeless population in Canada.

This report expands on findings included in the National Shelter Study 2005-16 Highlights Report, which was released in August 2019. For example, it includes additional age-specific profiles of homeless shelter use, and more insights into Indigenous homelessness. It also includes more detailed information about the methodology.

Emergency shelter use is the best available indicator of large-scale trends in homelessness, and the results of this study are important for understanding homelessness in Canada. The report provides information about the average shelter occupancy rate, the number of times shelter beds were used, the overall number of Canadians using shelters annually and the length of stay by individuals using Canada’s emergency shelter system. It also examines the demographic characteristics of shelter users and changes in the shelter-using population over the past decade.

The report is based on data collected through the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) and data sharing agreements with communities and service providers. It includes anonymous information from approximately 2.5 million shelter stays that occurred at over 200 of the approximately 400 emergency shelters across Canada between 2005 and 2016.

For further information on the National Shelter Study, please contact the Homelessness Policy Directorate’s Data Analysis and Reporting team at

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