Research summary - Indigenous homelessness

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title of the full report: Indigenous homelessness

Authors of the full report: Jason Adams and Hélène Roberge

Alternate formats

Research summary - Indigenous homelessness [PDF - 238 KB]

Large print, braille, MP3 (audio), e-text and DAISY formats are available on demand by ordering online or calling 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232). If you use a teletypewriter (TTY), call 1-800-926-9105.

Why this study

ESDC conducted this study to examine in greater detail the issue of homelessness among Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The 2016 National Shelter Study looked in-depth at emergency shelter data. It showed that Indigenous Canadians were 10 times more likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to use a shelter. Indigenous Canadians also made up around 30% of all shelter users in Canada.

What we did

Use 2016 data from emergency shelters

We used 2016 administrative data collected from emergency shelters for:

  • men
  • women, and
  • children across Canada

This data:

  • tells us about the demographics of shelter users, and
  • describes the nature of their shelter stay

Use regional data from the 2016 Census

We used regional data from the 2016 Census to compare shelter populations to overall populations. Then, we used descriptive tabulations to examine the demographic breakdowns of shelter users for:

  • First Nations people
  • Métis, and
  • Inuit

Use linear regression

We applied this method to:

  • measure differences in shelter stay outcomes, and
  • control for other shelter user characteristics

Use a competing risks survival analysis

We used this model to:

  • measure relative likelihoods of leaving shelters for different reasons, and
  • control for other shelter user traits

What we found

The findings show that Indigenous shelter users from different groups:

  • have shorter shelter stays
  • have more stays in a year
  • face higher rates of episodic homelessness, and
  • leave shelters less often because of finding a home

Representation in shelters

The data shows that Indigenous people make up a relatively higher proportion of shelter users. This was true for every community studied. The degree is higher for:

  • Indigenous women
  • Indigenous seniors, and
  • Inuit

What it means

These results show the needs unique to the different groups of Indigenous peoples facing homelessness. The findings also highlight the barriers that Indigenous People can experience when looking for stable housing, such as:

  • institutional racism, or
  • social and cultural disconnection in urban areas

The project underscores the need for programs geared toward these groups, that target the vulnerabilities outlined in the results.

Contact us

Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Social Policy Directorate, Social Research Division


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