Backgrounder: Advisory Committee on Homelessness


Advisory Committee on Homelessness

On June 22, 2017, Minister Duclos announced the membership of the Advisory Committee on Homelessness. Chaired by Parliamentary Secretary Adam Vaughan (Housing and Urban Affairs), it included 13 members from outside of government and across the country who represented diverse regions and cultures, Indigenous people, Canada’s two official languages and people who have experienced homelessness. The focus of the Committee’s work was to provide expertise and independent advice to the Minister on potential ways to improve the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), post-2019.

The Committee had a mandate to:

  • explore the ideas heard through the National Housing Strategy engagement process in greater depth;
  • undertake targeted engagement with experts, communities, and stakeholders; and
  • analyze options for the redesign of the HPS.

Based on its deliberations and feedback heard throughout their engagement with stakeholders and partners at roundtables discussions and from Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) online survey completed by individuals and organizations across Canada, the Committee delivered its final report to the Minister in the spring of 2018, which provides detailed advice on the way forward for HPS.

Homelessness Partnering Strategy engagement process

Over the past year, the Government of Canada consulted with stakeholders, provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners on how the HPS can be redesigned to better prevent and reduce homelessness across Canada. These consultations were guided by the work of an Advisory Committee of experts and stakeholders in the field of homelessness, and chaired by Parliamentary Secretary Adam Vaughan.

The Committee led eight regional roundtables in different parts of Canada in the summer and fall of 2017 to explore ways in which the federal homelessness program could be expanded and strengthened. Regional roundtables were held in Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Yellowknife, Montréal, Québec and Calgary. Roundtable participants included representatives from homeless-serving organizations, people with lived experience of homelessness and representatives from Indigenous organizations. The roundtables asked for input on what was working with the program and what was not, as well as suggestions for improvement. In addition, a meeting with representatives of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy Community Entities and Community Advisory Boards attending the National Conference on Ending Homelessness (CAEH17) and a roundtable focused on Veterans' homelessness were held in fall 2017.

ESDC also launched an online feedback survey open from July 17 to September 15, 2017 available to all Canadians and organizations to gather ideas and suggestions on how to prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada. Close to 500 surveys were received and 678 people answered online quick polls to share their views on how to best tackle homelessness in Canada.

Throughout the engagement activities undertaken in 2017, ESDC heard from a wide diversity of individuals, organizations and partners across the country on how better tackle homelessness. The Homelessness Partnering Strategy Engagement – What We Heard Report 2018 contains highlights from feedback received throughout the consultation process to provide advice to the Government of Canada on how to improve the HPS.

Homelessness Partnering Strategy

The HPS is a unique community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities in all provinces and territories, as well as to Indigenous, rural and remote communities across Canada, to help them address homelessness.

The HPS supports community efforts and allocates funds accordingly, which provides communities with the flexibility to invest in proven approaches that reduce homelessness at the local level. The HPS funds are targeted directly toward community priorities, which have been identified through an inclusive community planning process, involving officials from all orders of government, community stakeholders, and the private and voluntary sectors. The objectives of the HPS are achieved through several funding streams.

Since 2016, the Government of Canada has invested an additional $111.8 million over two years in the HPS to provide communities the support they need to help prevent and reduce homelessness, including Housing First activities, better emergency response services and supports for youth, women fleeing violence and Veterans.

Since April 2014, more than 26,000 people were placed into more stable housing through HPS funded interventions. Of those contacted six months following their placement, 80 percent remained housed. The HPS has funded projects to help over 35,000 people access programs such as Social Assistance, Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan, which have improved their income stability. It also funded projects that supported over 5,000 people in finding full-time jobs and over 5,500 in part-time jobs, supported over 6,600 begin a job training program and helped over 6,000 people in pursuing education.

Funding for homelessness projects

Through the HPS, qualified organizations may receive funding for projects to help prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada. These projects are funded through regional and/or national funding streams.

Regional projects

Funding delivered regionally focuses on the needs of homeless and at-risk individuals and families at the local level, and aims to help individuals and families gain and maintain a stable living arrangement. The three regional streams are:

  • Designated Communities:
    • A total of 61 communities across Canada that have a significant problem with homelessness have been selected to receive ongoing support to address this issue. These communities—mostly urban centres—are given funding that must be matched with contributions from other sources. Funded projects must support priorities identified through a community planning process.
  • Rural and Remote Homelessness (non-designated communities):
    • The Rural and Remote Homelessness funding stream targets smaller, non-designated communities located in rural and outlying areas. This funding is not available to the 61 designated communities.
  • Aboriginal Homelessness:
    • The Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream addresses the specific needs of the off-reserve homeless Indigenous population by supporting an integrated service delivery system that is culturally appropriate and community-driven.
    • The HPS partners with Indigenous groups to ensure that services meet the unique needs of off-reserve homeless Indigenous people in cities and rural areas. The unique needs of all First Nations, Inuit, Métis and non-status Indians are also considered.
    • Off-reserve Indigenous people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are also served under the Designated Communities and Rural and Remote Homelessness funding streams.

National projects

The national funding streams help to develop a better understanding of homelessness based on local data collection, and make surplus federal real properties available to organizations that plan to use the facilities to address homelessness.

  • Innovative Solutions to Homelessness:
    • The Innovative Solutions to Homelessness funding stream is delivered nationally and supports the development of the best innovative approaches to reducing homelessness. Funding can be used to support activities in three key areas: supporting community-based innovative projects to reduce homelessness and/or the cost of homelessness, building strategic partnerships with key stakeholders, and testing and/or sharing tools, social metrics and research findings geared towards homelessness.
  • National Homelessness Information System:
    • The National Homelessness Information System (NHIS) is a federal data development initiative designed to collect and analyze baseline data related primarily to the use of emergency shelters in Canada.
    • This funding stream supports the implementation and deployment of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) software, HIFIS training at the community level, and projects related to community shelter data coordination.
    • Data collected through HIFIS and other sources, such as provincial or municipal governments, feed into the NHIS to help develop a national portrait of homelessness.
  • Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative:
    • The Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative is a funding stream of the HPS. It makes surplus federal real properties available to eligible recipients for projects to help prevent and reduce homelessness.
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