According to the Canadian Definition of Homelessness, homelessness is “the situation of an individual, family, or community without stable, safe, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect means and ability of acquiring it.”

It is important to keep in mind that this definition does not fully encompass every experience of homelessness. There are different groups of people who are affected differently, and every individual’s experience is unique. Canada’s homeless population is quite diverse.

Homelessness describes a range of housing and shelter circumstances, with people being without any shelter at one end, and being insecurely housed at the other. That is, homelessness encompasses a range of different physical living situations:

  • Unsheltered, or absolutely homeless and living on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation
  • Emergency Sheltered, refers to people who, because they cannot secure permanent housing, are accessing emergency shelter and system supports including those staying in shelters for those impacted by family violence
  • Provisionally Accommodated, describes situations in which people, who are technically homeless and without permanent shelter, access accommodation that offers no prospect of permanence.
  • At Risk of Homelessness, although not technically homeless, this included people whose current economic and/ or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards.

Chronic homeless: Refers to individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness AND who meet at least 1 of the following criteria: have a total of at least 6 months (180 days) of homelessness over the past year have recurrent experiences of homelessness over the past 3 years, with a cumulative duration of at least 18 months (546 days)


People who experience homelessness are not distinct or separate from the rest of the population. There are various myths and misconceptions around the issue of homelessness. Some people believe that it is a choice; there is the idea that people experiencing homelessness can simply pick themselves up “by the bootstraps” if they wanted to and that they are unhoused simply because they are lazy.

There are many reasons why people experience homelessness, including the lack of structural supports for those experiencing poverty or job loss and inadequate discharge planning for those leaving hospitals, correctional facilities and mental health facilities.  


Homelessness in Canada is a complex problem that demands a response from governments, service providers, service recipients and the community at large.

District of Rainy River Service Board (DRRSB) is working to address housing and homelessness related needs throughout the Rainy River District by participating in the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) Initiative.  The DRRSB will assist people who are homeless to obtain and maintain permanent, affordable housing and to assist those who are at risk of homelessness to remain housed. 

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