Real Life Scenarios

As you learn about homelessness and the complex ways in which it is experienced, we encourage you to begin with these real life composite scenarios. Take a moment here to pause and consider these people’s experiences. 


Enzo is a 14-year-old male who is currently staying at the youth shelter. He was kicked out of his parents’ house again for hanging out with friends from the neighbourhood who his parents believe are local gang members. He has been lying, breaking curfew, stealing his mother’s prescription drugs, and has had a number of minor interactions with the local police. His parents have said they will not take him back this time. His parents feel that he needs to learn about how “good he has had it at home” by being forced to “fend for himself.” He feels they are overly strict, “lame,” and embarrassing to be seen with. He left thinking any place would be better than his family home. At the shelter he is disrespectful to the workers, bullying to the other residents and withdrawn when not engaged in altercations. He has been warned that his behaviour will lead to being removed from the shelter, leaving him with few options left. 


Jake is a 19-year-old youth who has been on and off of the streets since he was 16 years old. He left his family home following abuse by his stepfather and indifference shown by his mother. He accessed the adult shelter in his local town five to six times over two years. He is known about town as somewhat of a trouble-maker and local police have followed his activities fairly closely. He would start a job and then be picked on by local youths and end up missing shifts and being fired. He has left the shelter various times over the years as he was victimized by other residents. Recently his support workers have found him an affordable place to live. His new apartment is small and is in a town 10 kilometers away from his home town. He has connected with a local Art Hive where he spends his time embracing his love of creativity through painting. He has also connected with the local community group and attends weekly dinners and other events. He is starting to feel as though he belongs to the community and has begun volunteering with the agency that hosts the dinners. He is hoping to take high school classes through the local alternative program in the fall. He is beginning to have hope. 


Miriam is a six-year-old student at a local elementary school. She started at the school this fall and has had spotty attendance. She is a very quiet and painfully shy child who does not run on the playground or get involved in the high-energy events of the day. She often comes to school in obviously soiled clothing and without a lunch. The teacher is aware that her family are recent immigrants from Ghana. Miriam’s mother indicates that the transition has been fine. She has had a few challenges with the washing facilities at their apartment building and Miriam is forgetful in her hurry to get to school on time. She declines a meeting with the Social Worker.  From the small amount of information that Miriam shares reluctantly the teacher is beginning to think that the family may be living in their car.  


Reflection Questions

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

Reflection Questions

  • What role can people who work with children and youth – such as in schools and early childcare settings – play in helping to identify young people who may need additional support?
  • How do you think child welfare services impact children and youth at risk of homelessness?
  • As a child and youth worker, how might you help a young person who is in conflict with their parent(s)?



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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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