The right to housing for people with disabilities: Homelessness

Publication Type
Subject Matter
National Monitoring Mechanism

The right to housing for people with disabilities: Homelessness - Text version

We are monitoring the right to adequate housing for people with disabilities in Canada.

27% of Canadians have a disability. That’s about 8 million people.Footnote 1

We are looking at homelessness. Homelessness means not having a stable, safe, and permanent place to live. People experience homelessness in different ways. For example:

  • Visible homelessness is when people sleep outside or in shelters.

  • Hidden homelessness is when people are temporarily housed, but they don’t have their own place. For example, people sometimes stay with strangers, family, or friends. This is also called “couch surfing”.

What we found:

  • People with disabilities were four times more likely to experience homelessness:Footnote 2

    • 1 in 25 people with disabilities versus 1 in 100 people without disabilities have experienced homelessness.

  • They were more than two times more likely to experience hidden homelessness.Footnote 3

  • They were more likely to experience homelessness because of violence.Footnote 4

    • Of the people who experienced homelessness, 53% of people with disabilities said it was because of violence. This is compared to 36% of people without disabilities.

What we heard:Footnote 5

  • “When you’re homeless, every day is a struggle. It’s a struggle to meet basic needs like staying warm, dry and fed. We are shunned, displaced and harassed. We don’t have security, heat, a shower, or a toilet. We don’t have privacy or stability. We get robbed and abused. Police and bylaw officers criminalize us. They make us move. This is making my PTSD and health problems worse.”

  • “I moved in with family members after leaving an abusive relationship. Shelters seem unsafe and unhealthy. Staying at a shelter would have a negative impact on my mental and physical health.”