Estimating Homelessness: Towards a Methodology for Counting the Homeless in Canada (Executive Summary)

This article serves to show the progression of counting measures in Canada, and the relationship between the definition of homelessness and our ability to measure it. Per the article: Counting the homeless has proven to be a arduous task. Since the early 1980s American activists, government officials and social researchers have produced estimates of the size of the homeless population which have ranged anywhere from 250,000 to three million or more.  Needless to say, this wide range of estimates has been the source of an acrimonious debate about the actual size of the population between advocates and activists on the one hand, and government officials and social researchers on the other.

The two most contentious aspects of the numbers debate are centered around the issues of who should be included amongst the ranks of the homeless, and how they should be counted. While a consensus has been achieved about the difficulties inherent in defining and counting the homeless, little agreement has been reached as to how to remedy them. At best, we can conclude that most researchers agree on one fact: who we define as homeless determines how we count them.

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