The typical way of delivering services to people experiencing homelessness has been failing. Combined with a lack of affordable housing, insufficient income supports, a declining economy with austerity measures and other structural factors and systems failures, homelessness in Canada has grown, not declined, over the past thirty years.
The communities that show visible improvement, most notably, Medicine Hat, Alberta, have implemented a systems approach. Indeed, Alberta as a province has mandated and implemented systems level work. We can learn a great deal about doing this work from Australia, which has been doing systems response for close to two decades.
In Victoria [an Australian state], work has been underway since 2000 to provide a response to homelessness that breaks the traditional domains of legislation, mandate, program funding and guidelines and to work holistically across government to provide assistance for people to navigate the complicated health and human services systems both into and out of homelessness. (Lake, 2005, p.1)