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 these people‚Äôs experiences. 

Stephan and Zane

Stephan and Zane are a young couple. They met at college where they were each‚ÄĮcompleting a course in heavy machinery repair. Upon graduation neither was able to find a job in their field.‚ÄĮThey have bounced from one construction job to the next, often being paid in cash. No contracts, no benefits.‚ÄĮStaggering debts from their education have left them unable to sustain‚ÄĮpermanent housing. They have been marginally involved with some recreational drug use; however, they have recently lost three friends to overdose and are frightened.

They are currently living in a shelter in a medium-sized city. They would like to get out west as they have heard that there are jobs there but have no money to‚ÄĮfund this move and no solid prospects. In the shelter, they are sleeping in a dormitory style room with 12 other men. Cots are lined up close together, head-to-head.

There is no private space.‚ÄĮShower and clothes washing facilities are very limited. Each person is given a mask to last the week. Hand wash‚ÄĮstations are few and far between. They have just learned that one of the residents has tested positive for COVID-19 meaning that all residents will have to isolate ‚Äúat home‚ÄĚ for 14 days. Although the shelter has a ‚Äúno drug‚ÄĚ policy, drug use is very prevalent in the surrounding community.

Stephan and Zane are feeling very confused, isolated, and unsafe. 

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 this scenario again at the end of the chapter. 

Reflection Questions

  • When you hear the phrase ‚Äúisolate at home‚ÄĚ- what does that mean to you?
  • What does that mean for folks who live homeless?‚ÄĮ
  • Do you think folks who live in shelters have felt safe from COVID-19 during the pandemic? How might they have coped with‚ÄĮfeeling unsafe?‚ÄĮ
  • Have the health care and social support sectors adequately‚ÄĮserved the needs of‚ÄĮthose with housing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Do you know someone, or know of someone who has lost their life due to an overdose? 



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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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