The services of Home Suite Hope Shared Living Corp. (HSH) fill a much needed gap in the shelter continuum by providing transitional housing to a growing homeless population in Halton Region that need support beyond what is provided by emergency shelter facilities. HSH provides long-term refuge (average stay of up to 24 months) for low-income, precariously-housed, single parent families so that they can have the time necessary to stabilize their lives. HSH provides the next stage after emergency shelter services. Emergency shelters – such as the Salvation Army Lighthouse Shelter – provide immediate emergency support for people that are homeless, but the support is time-delimited; normally stays cannot be longer than 90 days.

Homeless Single Parent Families

The challenges of homelessness are multi-faceted – homelessness doesn’t occur just for one reason; there are normally layers of issues that a family is facing that have caused the family to experience a housing crisis. For example, a family can become homeless when there is a marital break-up and one parent abandons their parental responsibilities. This then leads to financial strain on the lone parent who is caring for the children. The stresses of single parenting could lead to health burdens for the lone-parent and they might find themselves in a state where they cannot work. At this point they may not have adequate income to pay a mortgage and they find themselves in a situation where they are facing homelessness.

Trying to resolve the multiplicity of issues that has caused homelessness within a span of 90 days provided by an emergency shelter is not enough time to get oneself back on one’s feet: this is where HSH comes in. We provide a longer period of stay – of up to 24 months – to help lone-parent families have the time necessary to deal with the issues that have caused them to become homeless and to give them time to stabilize their life so that they can go on to permanent housing. Because of the complexity of homelessness, it takes time for someone to get their life back on track – and they need support in the process. HSH provides the accommodation and the supports to help transition single parent families to stability.


Homelessness In Halton?

Many people in Halton may not think that homelessness exists yet it is a growing problem in Canada and not just in urban centres. A comprehensive study completed in 2007 by The Canadian Council on Social Development showed that over 2.7 million households were paying too much of their income to pay for a roof over their heads. This reality has led to a “new homelessness” in Canada that is occurring – and growing – in suburbia and small towns.

Invisible Homelessness

A challenge with combating homelessness in suburban centres such as Halton Region is that it is not readily visible. In Halton, there are recorded cases of people living in cars; sleeping on rooftops; people sleeping in restaurants: for example, they might work at a fast-food restaurant and then sneak into the restaurant late at night after it has closed and sleep for 2 – 3 hours before the restaurant opens in the morning. Couch surfing is a term that refers to people that will stay for as long as they can at a friend or relatives house by sleeping on the couch. They stay at one place until they wear out their welcome and then move on or rotate around on even a nightly basis to different places where they can sleep on someone’s couch. Also, there are reported cases in Halton where youth are climbing into clothing collection bins and sleeping there overnight.

Although few people see indications of homelessness in Halton, it is becoming more visible in some locations. Some Oakville residents have periodically been approached by individuals panhandling and asking for food and shelter on the Dorval QEW interchange in a style you would experience in downtown Toronto. And Milton residents are recording more visible signs of homelessness in the downtown core. Homelessness expert, Mary Beth Shinn, of New York University, outlines that statistically – even in large urban centres – the visible homeless represent, on average, only about 32% of the homelessness problem. There is an additional 68% of homeless that exist, but they are invisible. (From Shapcott, Michael. Counting Toronto’s Homeless. Wellesley Institutute. 2006.) So once homelessness becomes in any way visible, there is a much larger homelessness problem within the community – but it is not easily visible.

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