Barely two decades ago the world's experts in housing policy were giving Canada high marks for its progressive housing policies. Until recently, our own common understanding of homelessness had been limited to occasional wanderers, eccentrics, boozers or addicts. Yet, as a new century dawns, homelessness as we recognize it has changed and grown, offering painful reminders of the soup-kitchen lineups of the depression era.
Homelessness is a rapidly growing social problem. Measured in terms of displaced persons, the dimensions of the crisis rival those found during natural disasters such as the Quebec and Manitoba floods, or the great ice storm of '98.
Today's homelessness in Canadian communities represents a relatively new phenomenon, difficult to comprehend in this land and time of plenty. How did this happen? How did we get here? What can be done to solve it?
Jack Layton, one of this country's leading experts and outspoken activists on housing issues, addresses the crisis from its roots, in order not only to understand the problem, but to find workable solutions. With a stunning combination of rigorous research and compelling personal anecdote, and trenchant and timely analysis from such wide-ranging sources as social scientists, housing economists, mayors, journalists, clergy and the homeless themselves, Homelessness offers insight, perspective and proactive solutions to a seemingly intractable crisis.