This project is an introductory exploration of the relationship between the homeless and their families. It serves as an orientation to the issue and assists in identifying areas for further re- search. When individuals lose community, family and stable housing and enter a life on the streets, shelter services offer physical necessities as well as companionship and emotional and spiritual support. The question is: Have those who are dependent on shelter services lost all contact with family?
This project was initiated to find out, by examining the frequency of contact between clients of one Ottawa shelter and their families.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada conducted this research in partnership with the Ottawa Mission, a long established non profit organization that offers shelter services and re- sources to homeless men in Ottawa’s downtown core. The Ottawa Mission provides shelter to 217 men on average, per night. Services provided by the organization include meals, education completion and job services programs, addiction recovery programs and a hospice.
The majority of the men in the sample have little or no contact with family. Of those who have regular contact with family, approximately 75 per cent are involved in addiction treatment pro- grams at the Ottawa Mission. A significant majority of men have never married or are separated or divorced. A minority of men with children remain in contact with them. Our review of lit- erature on homelessness and family contact revealed that Canadian data is needed. This study is the first step by the IMFC to further Canadian research in this field.
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