Why 2023 Is An Important Year to Strengthen Homelessness Services

A depression era photograph of a destitute woman with some of her seven children
This working mom and her children were homeless when this picture was taken in 1936. Today, homelessness is still with us, getting steadily worse. Will 2023 be the year when a campaign to end homelessness starts to make a meaningful difference?

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) is calling for a homelessness prevention and housing benefit to help bring homelessness in Canada under control.

The number of people who are experiencing homelessness is going up. CAEH identifies factors that contribute to the rise in homelessness, including the expiry of the COVID emergency financial benefits as well as inflation. CAEH asserts that homelessness has not peaked, drawing on evidence of homelessness numbers that rose during the recession after the 2007 mortgage lending crisis.

The proposed benefit would prevent homelessness by helping people with very high housing costs to pay their rents. It would also help people who are experiencing chronic homelessness to move to permanent housing. Details of the proposed benefit, including cost estimates, are outlined in a White Paper. Read more at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness: Responding to a New Wave of Homelessness

The proposal comes at a crucial time, as the Canadian government is preparing its 2023-24 budget. The CAEH is encouraging Canadians to reach out to their political representatives to express concern about the rising homelessness and support the proposed housing benefit. For more details on how to participate: CAEH calls for federal investment in a new housing benefit to stop the destructive wave of new homelessness sweeping across Canada

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Alliance to End Homelessness (the Alliance) has also launched a campaign to mark the New Year. The Alliance is sharing its hopes and goals for 2023. It also encourages its partners to see the possibilities ahead. See more at the Alliance to End Homelessness: New Year, New Goals for Ending Homelessness

The Alliance’s campaign draws attention the U.S. government’s latest homelessness plan, which was approved in late 2022. The U.S. plan includes funding to prevent homelessness. It also continues its support for programs like Housing First, which are intended to end chronic homelessness1.

Michele Steeb, writing in USA Today, is determined not to see the possibilities in the new U.S. plan. Among other criticisms, Steeb argues that the people who are experiencing homelessness need psychiatric care, not housing. See more here: Homelessness surges across the country. But Biden is sticking with same failed strategy.

Reading such blanket condemnations could be quite discouraging for the people who are homeless and working, but don’t earn enough to pay for housing. It’s not going to be a great morale booster for the people in organizations working to end homelessness either.

Steeb’s critique is about the U.S. plan, but, as with most ideas in the U.S., it is likely to be taken up in Canada as well. It could be tempting to dismiss divergent views or act as if they don’t exist. These are not good ideas because divergent views such as Steeb’s can become a convenient reason to reduce funding or cancel programs. Figuring out how to operate in such a conflicted environment is necessary.

In the US, community agencies have been testing different ideas about moving forward when solutions to the homelessness crisis are in dispute. These might also be useful outside the U.S. Try: Connecting Messaging And Evidence To Build A Case For Housing


  1. Try: U.S. Government’s Action On Homelessness Heads Off In New Directions