Preventing homelessness requires a significant conceptual and operational shift.
Homelessness prevention means “policies, practices, and interventions that reduce the likelihood that someone will experience homelessness. It also means providing those who are homeless with the necessary resources and supports to stabilize their housing, enhance integration and social inclusion, and ultimately reduce the risk of a return to homelessness.” Prevention also requires addressing systemic factors, such as racism and colonization, that make some groups more likely than others to experience homelessness.
Preventing homelessness means recognizing that its causes can vary across different groups, with Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities, 2SLGBTQ individuals, women, and youth having distinct experiences of homelessness.
Importantly, Western or colonial definitions of homelessness don’t always fit with the histories and current experiences of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous homelessness prevention must focus on recognizing rights, reconnecting with homelands, fostering community, building links with Elders, and strengthening cultural identity.
Ultimately, effective prevention strategies require stronger engagement with public systems outside the homelessness sector and ongoing investments to create long-lasting solutions. For example, the Family and Natural Supports program emphasizes building partnerships with schools to identify at-risk youth and provide them with supports to allow them to remain housed and enrolled in school.