What if we treat homelessness like a pandemic?

COVID-19 outbreaks in shelters and other effects of the virus forced more people to sleep rough — on sidewalks, under bridges, in encampments — making homelessness more visible. People experiencing homelessness were disproportionately impacted and five times more likely to die of COVID-19.

Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, asks “What if we managed the pandemic like we treat homelessness?” What if only the symptoms of COVID-19 were managed? What if, instead of masks, social distancing and vaccines, the only measure would be to treat sick people who come to an emergency room? The result: many more would die.

This approach would cause an outcry, but when it comes to homelessness, addressing only the symptoms has been the norm. Once people are living in shelters, they have reached the “emergency room” of a system that has not done enough to prevent them from getting there.

The solutions to homelessness are not unknown or out of reach. There are many programs and organizations creating solutions that are part of a systems-based strategy to help end homelessness in Canada. Research clearly points to three important measures: affordable housing, support programs and prevention.

We can help you make informed decisions with our independent journalism.

As a social innovation designer, my research, teaching and practice focus on systems thinking and understanding and designing socially innovative solutions that don’t simply address the symptoms — they also get to the root of the challenge. I try to share my research through accessible means which led me to create, produce and host my own podcast series. The most recent episode of the podcast looks at homelessness and housing as a right.

Affordable housing

Demand far exceeds supply for affordable housing. A shift in the role government plays in Canada and a decades-long lack of investment in housing has led to the levels of homelessness we are seeing.

And low incomes are contributing to the problem. The Ontario Disability Support Program provides a housing allowance of $497 per month. Ontario Works, the social assistance program, provides $390 a month. As of November 2021, the minimum wage in Ontario is $14.35 an hour or about $1,955 a month after taxes. In Toronto, the average cost of a studio apartment is $1,211, and $1,431 for a one-bedroom apartment. It’s clear: the math doesn’t work.

Toronto has a centralized waiting list for subsidized housing, this list currently has over 78,000 names and an estimated wait time of 12 years or more for a one-bedroom unit.

A man, standing outside a Salvation Army drop-in centre for the homeless, watches as protesters calling for empty buildings to be used for housing for the homeless pass by,
A man carries a sign that reads ‘housing now,’ as people march, calling for empty buildings to be used for housing in Toronto, in September 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Support programs

For decades the prevailing policy was that people needed to be “housing ready” before being placed in permanent housing, which meant being clean and sober, and in counselling and treatment for mental health. Many practitioners working on the ground observed that this approach just didn’t work.

Sam Tsemberis, a Canadian psychologist working in New York City in the 1990s, gathered a group of outreach workers and asked: What if we got people in permanent housing first and then worked with them to get the services they need?

This was the foundation for Housing First, “a rights-based intervention rooted in the philosophy that all people deserve housing, and that adequate housing is a precondition for recovery.” Housing First programs provide the services that help people stay housed and where they can thrive.

In 2008, the federal government launched a four-year research demonstration project of Housing First called At Home/Chez Soi. Years of data gathering and analysis of the outcomes proved the effectiveness of the program which has been integral to the design and implementation of several innovative initiatives across Canada. The approach works, but it needs to be properly funded.

Prevention

Once people are housed, many need support to stay housed. Some communities provide resources and small loans to assist with rent, as well as legal aid to help stave off evictions.

People exiting systems like criminal justice, hospitals and child protection are vulnerable to experiencing homelessness. This can be prevented by ensuring they have help with transitioning into appropriate housing.

Another critical area for prevention is youth homelessness. Over one-third of adults experiencing homelessness report first being homeless in their youth. A Way Home Canada sees youth homelessness as key to ending all homelessness in Canada. It has demonstration projects in three Canadian cities built on a Housing First for Youth framework.

Investing in an end to homelessness

Ending homelessness requires a shift away from the belief that one program or intervention will solve homelessness to a shared understanding that interconnected systemic factors must be addressed.

A man looks at his bike in front of a row of multi-coloured wooden cabins set up in a parking lot
A view of the ‘A Better Tent City’ community in Kitchener, Ont., in October 2021. The community provides small cabins set up as an alternative to the homeless shelter system in the area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We need governments to heavily invest in affordable housing while also regulating the housing market. We need funding of essential support services that will help individuals quickly access safe, affordable housing and be able to remain there. We need funding to help prevent homelessness, including eviction and transitional supports and a focus on preventing youth homelessness.

The money to pay for this is already there. Much of it is spent dealing with the consequences of homelessness. There is tremendous opportunity to refocus resources from managing the symptoms to preventing homelessness.

Research scientist Eric Latimer and his team at McGill University calculated the costs of services for homeless people with mental illness in five Canadian cities, including expenses related to hospital visits, court appearances and other services. The team determined that annual costs averaged $59,000 per person in Canada’s three largest cities. For 10 per cent of those studied, costs exceeded more than $93,000.

This is one data point in a sea of budgeted and societal costs of homelessness adding up to billions of dollars spent. And yet people remain unhoused, with as many as 235,000 people in Canada experiencing homelessness in any given year. How can we afford not to invest in a different approach?

Ways forward

What if we treated homelessness like a pandemic? We would invest in preventing it and ensure that those who are unhoused have timely access to affordable housing and the support services they need to stay housed.

If we are to learn anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that prevention is key and homelessness is not something we can continue to ignore by pushing it out of sight. COVID-19 can be a reset, a catalyst to invest and double down on creating a society without homelessness.

We need a nationwide, fully resourced effort. We can help end homelessness by choosing to shift our individual and collective focus to support affordable housing, support services and prevention through voting, public funding and opening our minds and hearts.

March 24, 2021

ROOM $300, Days rd. 1548164002 (Kijiji)

ROOM $300, FEMALES ONLY!! Fully furnished Free onsite laundry Spacious common area Carpet free All utilities and wifi included /1554425209 (Kijiji)

ROOM $450, 549 Alfred st. The house consists of 3 bedrooms and 1 full bathroom on the second level, kitchen, living/dining room and bathroom on the main level and the 4th unit and laundry in the lower level. Bonus huge backyard!! Peaceful and relaxing Parking available. If interested please send a email/text with some info about yourself and we can schedule a viewing $450/month + shared cost of utilities 1 year lease. 1553773695 (Kijiji)

ROOM $460, One bedroom available in Cataraqui Woods home. Available April 1 Mature adult preferred $460/month + utilities (approx. and consistently $100/Month) One female cat in residence. Laundry in basement. 1st and last month required.  1557114218 (Kijiji)

 

ROOM $500, 68 Douglas ave. CHARMING HOUSE UTILITY INCLUDED CALLS ONLY 613 770-4920 EMAILS AND TEXTS WILL NOT BE RESPONDED TO PLEASE… PRIVATE STREET, BUS STOP IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE 1550924412 (Kijiji)

ROOM $550, 1016 Centennial dr. Available may 1st 550$ Inclusive with wifi. /1554546877 (Kijiji)

ROOM $550, Rent as soon as April first , with two laidback and respectful tenants ! The room is not furnished however you should fund everything needed throughout the rest of the apartment such as kitchen bathroom. Pet are allowed Near downtown area Looking to rent out 3 to 6 months possibly longer Rent is 550 plus electricity and internet (split three ways). Don’t hesitate to contact me for picture or possible viewing ! 1556699919 (Kijiji)

ROOM $600, 374 Morningside. Located in a clean modest home in a quite neighbourhood. Master bedroom with queen size bed and computer desk. Use of kitchen, living areas, backyard, laundry. Two full baths, internet all inclusive. 1551081977 (Kijiji)

ROOM $600, County rd 38. Large room and separate sitting room, cable, internet and parking included call Dave 6133899430 1556102163 (Kijiji)

ROOM $650, 4247 Sydenham rd. Bedroom for rent, unfurnished, shared bathroom, livingroom, kitchen, laundry….cable, internet, utilities all included 1555517799 (Kijiji)

ROOM $650, Amherstview. Bedroom for rent Amherstview for 1 person. Available immediately Room has a single bed and is 10 ×10 $650 No smoking and no guest.  1556023362 (Kijiji)

ROOM $650, The room has a queen bed, walk in closet, hardwood floors, two windows so the room is very bright! The home is large, well maintained and very clean. Rent is $650.00 per month and includes wifi and utilities. We also have a large stone patio in the back yard and a hot tub which can be used if you are willing to chip in with chemical costs… approx $10 per month. The home is close to downtown and on two express bus routes. For more information please contact Dan by return email or by text at 613-328-8854 1555869669 (Kijiji)

ROOM $750, Room in motel monthly. Parking, phone, TV. Own entry, washroom. Available now. Call Doug 613-542-7651 1494701212 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $995, 544 college. Avail..April large bachelor apart $895.00 Incl..heat hot @ cold water near bus stop laundry new hardwood ceramic floors secure building elevator parking South side for viewing @ appointment Call 343-333-3811  1556504822 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $975, 288 Union st. lower level of this multi-unit property. It is partially furnished with a table and chairs. Appliances included are a fridge, microwave and hotplate. There is also on-site laundry and parking available but not included. Located in a great location, only a few blocks to Queen’s University and a short walk to Kingston General Hospital. utilities included. 1533624673 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $995, 22 Colbourne. Laundry on site. Parking $115 per month. Utilities: Not included Please e-mail us at info@bpedevelopment.com or call us at 613-507-9116 for further information or to set up a showing! Visit our website at www.bpe-rentals.com to see more of our beautiful units. 1549596685 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $995, 31 Bayswater. We are looking for someone to take over our lease. All utilities included, for Osgoode properties. Call if interested 613-542-9590. 1555054023 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $995, 204 Montreal. Beside flower shop. Bright large windows, very clean Newer furniture Heat, water, light, inclusive. PHONE CALLS ONLY PLEASE Marilyn 613453 8570 1553765891 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $995, Wellington st. Semi-basement with Bed-Sitting Room; Office/Dining Area; Kitchen; Oak Floors; Built-in Dresser & Shelves; FREE: Laundry, Heat, Electricity and Water. Available May 1st. NO SMOKING & NO PETS  1556768453 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $995, Bayswater. Water heat hydro incl. Outdoor Parking – $35. 1556590760 (Kijiji)

BACHELOR $1050, 300 Regent. Practical bachelor apartment in great central location near the Kingston Centre. Features: – Laminate flooring – Big bright windows – Laundry in building If you have any questions regarding this unit please call our office 613-542-7343 or email apartments@springergroup.com  (Kijiji) 1539129301

BACHELOR $1100, 65 Nelson. There is an air conditioner and heat and water are included. Washing machine and dryer available for tenants in the basement and parking space is available at an extra cost. Can be rented furnished or not. Lease can be from May to August 2021 or May2021 to April 2022. $1100 unfurnished, $1150 furnished, $50 parking if needed .Please text or email me.  1552418478 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $825, 547 Brock st. Landlord requires first and last months rent, and post-dated cheque for each month of the duration of the lease. Landlord provides stove, fridge, and one free parking space. Electricity to be paid by tenants. Heat and water to be paid by landlord. Tenant agrees not to sublet without leave. No smoking. No pets. In house laundry. Hardwood floor. One year lease required. 1553163784 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $840, Ordnance st. Downtown near Artillery Park. Close to shopping, restaurants. One bedroom unit on third floor. Rent includes heat and water. Tenant pays electricity. Available April. References. 1557064686 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $845, 116 Toronto st. One bedroom apartment for rent located at the intersection of Brock and Toronto Streets. Features private entrance with deck, 3-piece bathroom, bright rooms and parking available.. This unit is renting for $845/month plus electricity and shared water/sewer. 1553855257 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $875, 310 Yonge st. One Bedroom very bright and cheery lower unit, smoke and pet free. Fabulous South Side location approximately one km from Providence Care and bus stop located conveniently right out front. Freshly painted and recently upgraded with all new insulated exterior walls and thermal pane windows to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. No smoking and no pets please. Includes all window coverings, fridge, stove, microwave, and one parking spot. Available April 1st, possibly sooner. First/last/Ref/Credit check. Please call Sandra at 613-546-2347 for more info and to arrange veiwing. 1556706119 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $975, 15 Regent st. Cozy Bright One-Bedroom apartment located in great neighborhood with bus stop, park near by, on site laundry, 1 parking spot. Close to Queen’s, St. Lawrence and Hospitals. 1554901616

1 BEDROOM $985, This apartment is located at the corner of princess and Division Street. There is a set of stairs to enter the apartment. Through the front door is the kitchen which leads to the dining/living room area. Off of the living room is the separate bedroom and four piece bathroom. This apartment is available for $985 per month plus electricity. Landlord pays for heat and water. Available now or April 1, first and last month’s rent required. Please contact for a viewing. 1556463187  (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1000, 7798 Victoria. Great one bedroom apartment for rent in great neighbourhood close to schools and park next door within walking distance of the Kingston Center in downtown Kingston apartment has new floors new paint on walls new windows there is a side yard to enjoy call or text Vince for showings at 343-333-8468 do not email I don’t get them 1554799093 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1000, 382 Victoria. Parking inc. All inclusive. Shared laundry.  emailrentals@limestonepm.ca . (613) 530-3340  1552894870 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1049, 16 Leroy Grant Drive, Call 613-541-0678 to arrange a viewing! One-bedroom available for immediately. Monthly rent from $1,049.00-1,215.00 plus electricity, Parking is $45-65 monthly(outdoor) For more information on this building including amenities, photos and floor plans please visit: https://www.homestead.ca/apartments/16-leroy-grant-drive-kingston1505826930 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1050, Johnson st.  Bright, basement apartment in quiet building, on bus route, 1 parking space, near college and university and hospitals. 1556230186 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1053, Brock st. Clean, located near park, walking distance to Queens. Full kitchen with new dishwasher, private entrance, full bath with storage, built in bookshelf, bedroom and sitting area in one room large enough for queen bed, couch night table and dresser. 1556382296 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1063, 310 Westdale Ave. Pet friendly. Resident Laundry Room . You can log onto: www.braeburyproperties.com to fill out a pre approval application. Call or email more information (613) 546-3400. tyler@braeburyproperties.com. 1553863954 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1075, 1015 Pembridge cr. Outdoor Parking – $40. Visitor Parking. Balconies. Pet Friendly. Water – Included. Laundry. 1555106597 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1075, Fifth Ave. Rent is $1075.00.00, all inclusive Available on a 12 month lease Available May 1st, 2021. Please contact Heron Management for more information or to book a showing at (613)-766-1659 or go to http://www.heronmanagement.com 1556030000 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1099, 175 Park st.  Call 613-546-1462 to arrange a viewing! Parking 52-72. Avail Jan  Plus electricity. 1539241675 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1095, 561 Princess. Parking Not Included. Available Now. Tenant pays hydro (avg. $35/month). Quiet and secure building. Laundromat close by. For more information, please e-mailrentals@limestonepm.ca. Phone: 613 530-3340 1547226802 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1100, 214 Montreal st. Recently renovated one bedroom unit for rent in downtown Kingston. Updated with new kitchen, bathroom fixtures, flooring and fresh paint, this unit includes a bright livingroom and bedroom, 3-piece bathroom, eat-in kitchen with fridge and stove. Parking at property for an additional cost and based on availability. 1544627388 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1100, 234 Johnson st.  Large one bedroom located on the 3rd floor of an old house. This includes the entire floor, inside entrance. 2 mins from Hotel Dieu and 5 mins from Queens. 1100 plus hydro. Includes internet Furnished. Hot water heating References required contact tbturn@gmail.com video tour is available txt at 613-539-9066 1555301275  (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1100, 40 Connaught. Features living room with hardwood floors that opens up to a great working kitchen with lots of counter and cupboard space, 4-piece bathroom with lots of storage, two bright bedrooms and two entrance/exit doors that includes a private entrance with mudroom that leads out to a deck and shared back yard area. One parking spot available. Renting for $1100/month plus electricity and water/sewer which averages $120/month.  /1555169099 (Kijiji)

1 BEDROOM $1100, 535 Rideau st. Clean 1 bedroom apartment at Montreal St and Rideau St. This apartment has been fully renovated. Laundry facility, 1 parking, fridge and stove are included at $1100 per month plus Hydro. Apartment address is 535 Rideau St. Kingston. Close to downtown Kingston and close to a bus stop, walk trail. For inquiry, please call 613-539-9034. 1556357864 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1100, 63 Cowdy. There are two bedroom units . the basement unit is ready for rent and the rent is $1100 per month plus hydro(and heating). second floor unit needs repairing and is available on March 1 for $1200 per month plus hydro(and heating). I am also looking for dependable young couple or students who are able to and willing to help me to do minor repairs and maintenances. ph:613-480-6627 1554380703 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1165, 80 & 84 William st. Available April 1st, two bedroom apartment with a balcony Also available parking and on-site laundry facilities. Features include security building and extensive use of hardwood and ceramic flooring throughout the unit. From $1165.00 including water. /1553046907 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1165, 90 Curtis cres. HOMESTEAD LAND HOLDINGS. Call 613-531-5298 to arrange a viewing!, plus electricity, Parking is $50-70 monthly(outdoor) For more information on this building including amenities, photos and floor plans please visit: https://www.homestead.ca/apartments/90-curtis-crescent-kingston1505826777 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1175, 332 Montreal. Walking distance to downtown Kingston. The unit is an upstairs small 2 bedroom in a semi detached duplex. It comes with washer/dryer in unit, hardwood floors, small balcony, 3 piece bathroom, and parking spot in front of house. Electricity is extra. Available June 1st. Please text Taylor @ 416-737-2941. 1555685888 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1200, 122 Princess. rentals@limestonepm.ca Tenant pays hydro. Available May 1, 2021. Coin operated laundry in building. Phone: 613 530-3340 1554099640 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1295, 544 College St. Available April.  Incl heat, water, parking. Call 343-333-3811 1555401084 (Kijiji)

 

BEDROOM $1250, 1010 Pembridge. Available May 1, 2021. Tenant pays hydro.  Coin operated laundry. For more info e-mail rentals@limestonepm.ca (KIJIJI) Limestone Property Management- Phone: 613 530-3340

2 BEDROOM $1275, Priced right! Perfect location, Quiet building, Available Now! Easy to maintain lament flooring though out and a new kitchen as well as lots of storage area. Parking and laundry facilities are on site. Heat and Water included, Electric is extra. No dogs and No smoking. First and last month’s rent along with a one year lease is required. If interested in a viewing; an online application must submitted. 1549987088  (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1200, 85 Toronto St. Parking Available at cost. Laundry in building. Call or email The Braebury Residential Team for more information. (613) 546-3400 tina@braeburyhomes.com 1554707670 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1200, 17 Eldon hallContact Tribond Property Management for more information! 613-985-1987 or info@tribondpm.com. large in-suite storage room and a balcony with space for seating. This building includes laundry on every floor, an elevator, modern lobby and a superintendent on-site & 1 parking space included. Water is included and hydro is extra. Pet free building. 1533743121 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1275, 196 Concession. This apartment is $1,275.00, plus electric (heat & water included) First and last month’s rent required on a 12 month lease Available May 1st, 20211556917004  (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1295, 251 Macdonnell. Available May 1, 2021. Tenant pays hydro. Parking for one vehicle included. Coin operated laundry on site. E-mail rentals@limestonepm.ca if interested. Phone: 613 530-3340 1554099782 (Kijiji)

 

2 BEDROOM $1300, 550 Union st. Mar 1. Amenities included: refrigerator and stove, shared coin laundry on-site. Electricity is extra. Heat, water and sewer included in rent. 1549446345 (Kijiji)

 

2 BEDROOM $1325, 239 Regent St. Parking not incl. Available Oct 1. Tenant pays hydro. Lower level unit. Laundry in building. 1514638430 (Kijiji)

2 BEDROOM $1350, 316 Westdale. Pet friendly. Laundry. (613) 453-2783 staceybraeburyproperties@gmail.com

 

2 BEDROOM $1350, 130 The Parkway. Call 613-541-3696 to arrange a viewing! Available March. Plus electricity. 1544545571 (Kijiji)

 

2 BEDROOM $1350, 211 Queen Mary. Parking Included. Available Now. Walk-out balcony. For more information, please email rentals@limestonepm.ca. 613 530-3340 1555269998 (Kijiji)

 

2 BEDROOM $1350, 107 Compton st. Available September 25. Water inc. Balcony. Storage. Outdoor parking. Laundry. 1505833938 (Kijiji) 

3 BEDROOM $1575, 3 Bedroom apartment close to St Lawrence, Close to downtown. 10 min to queens. Bright spacious bedrooms. hardwood floors throughout. In floor heating . 5 appliances. washer/dryer in the unit. fridge stove dishwasher, microwave Close to shops, buses, waterfront. Very quiet building with lots of parking. Front unit upstairs 1575monthly plus utilities. Available now. Call 613 328 9464  apply on line www.barryprop.ca 1553560322 (Kijiji)

3 BEDROOM $1595, 35 Eldon Hall, 3bd townhouse Eldon Hall Place, close to amenities, utilities included except W/S, non-smoking. 1557050587  (Kijiji)

3 BEDROOM $1600, Located at the corner of Princess and Division St, this apartment is located on the second floor and has its own entrance. Past this are three separate bedrooms and the four piece bathroom. Available now or April 1 the rent for this apartment is $1600 plus electricity. Some furnishings available if required. Landlord pays for water. 1553348001 (Kijiji)

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