Homelessness among Older People: Assessing Strategies and Frameworks across Canada

By Grenier, Amanda; Barken, Rachel et al. | Canadian Review of Social Policy, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Homelessness among Older People: Assessing Strategies and Frameworks across Canada


Grenier, Amanda, Barken, Rachel, Sussman, Tamara, Rothwell, David W., Bourgeois-Guérin, Valérie, Canadian Review of Social Policy


Introduction

The number of older people who are homeless is expected to rise as a result of population aging (see Edmonston & Fong, 2011), and the compounded impacts of poverty, inequality, and rising housing costs in Canada and elsewhere (Crane & Warnes, 2010; Culhane, Metraux, Byrne, Stino, & Bainbridge, 2013). Where in some cases, the phenomenon of older homelessness means that people are 'growing old on the streets', in others, it means falling into homelessness for the first time in later life. Although recent homeless counts in Toronto and Montreal draw attention to the shifting age structure of the homeless population, a significant gap exists where the knowledge and response to homelessness among older people is concerned. Where current strategies and initiatives to end homelessness in Canada include youth, women, Indigenous people, and members of LGBTQ communities, there is less attention to the subpopulation of people aged 50+ (Burns, Grenier, Lavoie, Rothwell, & Sussman, 2012). This article reports the results of a survey of 42 local, provincial, and federal Canadian planning documents on homelessness conducted between January and August 2014 (Barken, Grenier, Budd, Sussman, Rothwell, & Bourgeois-Guérin, 2015). Our review addressed the question: "to what extent do strategies recognize, target, and suggest responses for older people who are homeless?"

In this article, we define the boundaries for homelessness among older people, discuss the prevalence and unique needs of older homeless people, and outline why concern for this growing subgroup is important. We then outline the methodology and results of a qualitative review of Canadian strategies on homelessness. Findings demonstrate the relative invisibility of aging in most strategies, as well as a general lack of direction on how to meet the needs of older people. We discuss variations that exist among extant strategies and highlight the plans that do consider older people's needs. We conclude with a call to include older people in plans to end homelessness, and the need for a cross-Canada discussion about the needs that occur at the intersections of income, housing, and support for older people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.

Context: Older Homelessness in Canada

There is a small but emerging literature on homelessness among older people, but what does 'older' mean in the context of homelessness? Chronological age is often used to determine eligibility for social policies and programs. While the typical age-based threshold for the programs targeted toward older people is 65, research suggests that age-based criterion can create gaps for older people who are homeless. This is in part because people with lived experience of homelessness tend to experience 'age-related impairments' when they are approximately 10 years younger than the general population (Cohen, 1999; Gonyea, Mills-Dick, & Bachman, 2010; Hibbs et al., 1994; Hwang et al., 1998; Morrison, 2009; Ploeg, Hayward, Woodward, & Johnston, 2008). As such, individuals aged 64 and under are often ineligible for seniors' programs and benefits. The other issue is the aging of populations who are already homeless, who may face increasing challenges as they age. Our review of the literature on homelessness among older people suggests that age 50 is the most appropriate inclusive threshold where policy and planning is concerned (Grenier, Barken, Sussman, Rothwell, Lavoie, & Bourgeois-Guérin, 2016; see also Cohen, 1999; Garibaldi, Conde-Martel, & O'Toole, 2005; Gonyea et al.,, 2010; McDonald, Dergal, & Cleghorn, 2007; Ploeg et al., 2008; Shinn et al., 2007), and is thus the age-boundary used in our work.

Although this age base of 50+ is helpful as a parameter for research and practice, it can somewhat obscure important differences that exist within the sub-population of older homelessness. Older people typically experience one of two types of homelessness: they are either homeless throughout their lives, or at some point, and continue this pattern as they age (i. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Homelessness among Older People: Assessing Strategies and Frameworks across Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.