Rural Homelessness in Western Canada: Lessons Learned from Diverse Communities

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Rural Homelessness in Western Canada: Lessons Learned from Diverse Communities


  • Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada
  • Rebecca Schiff Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, Canada
  • Alina Turner Turner Research and Strategy Inc., Canada


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Abstract:  Until recently, there was little acknowledgement that homelessness existed in rural areas in Canada. Limited research and scarce data are available to understand the scope and dynamics of rural homelessness in Canada. As suggested in our previous work, there is a need for rural homelessness research to examine themes from a provincial perspective. The aim of this research was to contribute to expanding the knowledge base on the nature of rural homelessness at a provincial level in the Canadian province of Alberta. In order to understand the dynamics of homelessness in rural Alberta, we conducted interviews with service providers and other key stakeholders across Alberta. We examined homelessness dynamics and responses to rural homelessness in 20 rural communities across the province. Across all of the communities in the study, homelessness was reported however, the magnitude of the issue and its dynamics were distinct depending on the local contexts. We also identified several themes which serve as descriptors of rural homelessness issues. We note a number of recommendations emerging from this data which are aimed at building on the experiences, capacities, and strengths of rural communities.

Keywords:  Canada; disaster management; domestic violence; homelessness; Housing First; immigrant; indigenous persons; rural; seniors; youth

Published:   20 October 2016


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v4i4.633


© Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff, Rebecca Schiff, Alina Turner. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.