Survey of Homeless in Canada: Street Component

Statistics Canada (STC) has been contracted by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) to look into the feasibility of conducting a survey of homelessness in several Canadiancities. The primary objective of a survey of the homeless would be to obtain absolute counts ofthe number of homeless individuals. A secondary objective would be to collect socio-economicinformation to better understand the issue of homelessness.In the first phase of this feasibility study, Statistics Canada conducted a literature review of themethodology used in previous Homeless studies in Canada and the USA1. The purpose of thisreview was to focus on the lessons learned from these studies in order to present somepreliminary options to be investigated for the HRDC/STC study. In addition to this literaturereview, Mantel and Yung produced a preliminary report on Sample Design Options for a Surveyof Homeless in Canada 2. In it, they recommended an investigation of a multi-frame approachbased on the observation that on any given night the homeless population can usefully be dividedinto two components - the shelter population and the street population.The shelter component is thought to be the much larger contributor to total homeless counts. It isanticipated that it will be the easier of the two to obtain accurate counts of homeless individualsdue to the fact that government almost universally supports these facilities with grant money andtheir universal registration. There are currently two activities underway which could facilitate asurvey of the shelter component-HIFIS and the 2001 Census. Both are administrative in natureand are attempts to list all facilities providing shelter facilities to homeless individuals. In thecase of HIFIS it will also be possible to obtain some information on the clients using thesefacilities during a particular time period.The primary objective of this, the second phase of this project is to investigate the feasibility ofconducting a pilot survey in selected Canadian urban areas in order to obtain accurate counts forthe street component of the homeless population. This component is thought to be the muchsmaller contributor to total homeless counts and thought not to be a significant contributor inrural and even some urban areas. On the other hand, it will be the component for which it will bethe most difficult to obtain accurate counts. Before going further in the development of proposedmethodologies for this study, additional discussion must take place in order to clarify basicconcepts and to have a common and uniform understanding of various issues. (Exerpt from Report - Statistics Canada)

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