You Can't Really Call this Home: Perspectives on Service Delivery from Salvation Army Shelter Users and Service Providers

Homelessness is a complex reality experienced by individuals across Canada. Although the exact numbers remain unknown, recent studies have estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 Canadians are experiencing homelessness (Laird, 2007). The majority of these individuals identify an increase in poverty (United Way & Canadian Council on Social Development, 2004), a shortage of affordable housing (Snow, 2008), and a lack of family support (Caton et al., 2005) as the central reasons for becoming homeless. These factors exacerbate the experience of homelessness, which, in turn, causes many individuals to live without permanent housing for years (Laird, 2007). The Salvation Army is one of the leading organizations in Canada to provide services for individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition to providing for basic human needs, interventions offered by Salvation Army emergency shelters address specific needs of the homeless. In order to ensure a high level of care, The Salvation Army seeks to understand the perspectives of both shelter users and service providers in terms of service delivery and to adjust services accordingly. The Perspectives Study helps service providers gain a better understanding of the key issues that impact the individuals served through Salvation Army shelters. The perspectives captured in this study provide insight into the complex problems faced by homeless persons and the experiences of homelessness itself.

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