Real Life Scenario

As you learn about homelessness and the complex ways in which it is experienced, we encourage you to begin with this real life composite scenario. Take a moment here to pause and consider this person‚Äôs experience. 


Susan is a 32-year-old who has been living in a boarding house in a small town with five other women. She is not close to any of the other residents and has kept very much to herself trying to stay ‚Äúunder the radar.‚ÄĚ She has not felt safe in the residence due to the level of discord among the women and the rowdy traffic in and out of the apartment building next door which is a known drug house. There have been frequent visits from the local police who have continuously stopped her to ask her what she is doing and where she is going. In the last few weeks, a cruiser has been parked on the street outside the boarding house for numerous days in a row.Prior to living in the boarding house, Susan was incarcerated for eight months after being convicted of theft. She was released from the local corrections centre 4 months ago to the community. She left the facility‚ÄĮwith nothing. She is not from this community and does not have the means to get back to her hometown. Living in a shelter was not an option as there simply isn‚Äôt one available.

She is currently on probation and must meet with her probation officer weekly. She has been ill, and without access to a reliable phone to let her work know, she was fired from her job at a local coffee shop.‚ÄĮ‚ÄĮIn addition, she was unable to let the court officials know about her illness and now is in breach of a request to be fingerprinted, has missed a court appearance, and has missed one probation meeting. There is now a bench warrant out for her arrest.‚ÄĮShe has had no idea what type of legal support there might be for her in this small town. Susan recently lost her room due to unpaid rent. She has been forced to sleep in garages and sheds. She has been contemplating sex trade work to survive. Last night she was arrested for breaking and entering having sought shelter from a driving rain.


Reflection Questions

With this scenario fresh in your mind, consider these reflection questions. You may wish to record your answers before moving on to the next section. We will return to the scenario again at the end of the chapter. 

Reflection Questions

  • What feelings do you experience when you read this scenario?
  • How do you think Susan‚Äôs justice system involvement and housing instability are related?
  • What are the barriers that Susan is facing?
  • Who should Susan turn to for help?



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Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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