Beyond a place to stay
Join Prof. Michael Young, School of Peace and Conflict, as he presents his research "Beyond a place to stay: Addictions, mental health and the homelessness in the Northwest Territories" as part of the Roads to Research Series April 17, noon to 1 p.m. in Room 407 of the Learning and Innovation Centre.
Homelessness is generally regarded as an urban problem, yet from the early 1990s the number of homeless persons living in rural locales has increased to near epidemic proportion. Homeless persons living with co-morbid disorders in rural areas make up more than 50 per cent of the homeless population. However, compared to their urban counterparts, homeless persons suffering from addictions and mental health problems have minimal access to services, and the problem of homelessness remains generally unexplored.
Adding to the severity of this situation is the fact that many rural populations in Canada are located in remote and geographically challenging areas. This presentation examines the experiences of homeless persons with co-morbid disorders living in the Western Canadian Arctic. The quality of life of 18 homeless persons living in Inuvik was assessed using an established survey developed by WHO. As well, focus groups with service providers and the homeless people involved in the survey research were conducted to identify first, the possible reasons for why people became homeless, and second, what services are needed compared to what services are available. Not surprisingly, housing was identified as a key problem for homeless persons, and eviction from public housing for disruptive behaviour was frequently identified by homeless participants. Lack of services was indicated as a major issue for homeless persons struggling with addictions and mental health problems. Suggestions for changes in services that might assist in reducing the hardships experienced by homeless persons were sought in order to make recommendations to the service providers and the territorial government. These suggestions are discussed as are the ramifications of not addressing homelessness and co-morbid disorders in Inuvik.