Homelessness is not just what is visible on the street. It exists when individuals live in abandoned buildings, sleep under bridges, camp in parks, access emergency shelters, or couch surf.
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness speaks to this range through the four kinds of homelessness identified in its definition, including people who are unsheltered, emergency sheltered, provisionally accommodated, and insecurely housed.
All of these living situations, from utterly homeless to precariously housed, put people at risk of poor physical, mental and social health.
It is also important to consider the various causes of homelessness, many of which intersect:
Without this broad understanding of the types and causes of homelessness, those caught in the system, particularly those with complex and multiple issues such as mental health diagnoses or addictions can find themselves in a cycle of homelessness → housed → struggling to stay housed → and back on the streets.