Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences


Since the 1990s, homelessness has increased in Canada, but the strategies of the government and public health service providers to manage the situation have had limited success. Researchers have also noted the lack of inclusion of those experiencing homelessness in homelessness research to better understand and develop a solution to the issue. In the present study, this is addressed through inclusion of homeless participants from diverse backgrounds. The purpose of this phenomenological study, framed by social cognitive theory, reciprocal determinism, and symbolic interaction, was to understand homelessness from the perspectives of people who do not have homes. Data were collected from open-ended interviews with a purposeful sample of 15 individuals who were homeless. Several themes emerged after interview data were transcribed via hand coding and analyzed using cognitive data analysis. The prominent themes were lack of money, home, privacy, and support; discrimination directed primarily toward First Nations people and those of African descent; mental illness and addiction; the need for a review of housing policy that addresses rent, mortgage qualification criteria, and house tax; and the creation of awareness of government support systems and the services that they provide. Public health service providers and designated authorities can use the findings of this study to understand the phenomenon from the perspective of people who are experiencing homelessness, which can influence the development of better homelessness reduction strategies that could improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness and their communities. Because homelessness is a public health issue, bringing it under control could positively impact the health and safety of the public.