A Complex Exile
Homelessness and Social Exclusion in Canada
Over 235,000 people couch surf, stay in emergency shelters, and live on the street in Canada every year. But lack of housing security is but one barrier faced by people who are homeless.
As A Complex Exile shows, the homelessness sector inadvertently reinforces social exclusion as well. The very policies, practices, and funding models that exist to house the homeless, promote social inclusion, and provide mental health care form a homelessness industrial complex. These practices emphasize personal responsibility and individualized responses that ultimately serve to subtly exclude people on the street, which has profoundly negative effects among people experiencing homelessness. Erin Dej explores how a shift from managing to preventing and ending homelessness has taken shape over the past two decades. However, this movement has resulted in an increased focus on individualized responses to homelessness – individuals are charged with “fixing” themselves in order to secure housing and re-enter mainstream society. This book demonstrates that the causes of, and responses to, homelessness have become largely medicalized, limiting discussion on structural and systemic drivers such as income inequality, discrimination, and housing unaffordability.
A Complex Exile goes beyond bio-medical and psychological perspectives on homelessness, mental illness, and addiction to call for a socially transformed response to homelessness in Canada.
In addition to scholars of sociology, social work, psychology, law, and gender studies, this work will find an audience among homelessness policy makers, service providers, and social justice advocates.
A Complex Exile is poised to shift Canada’s approach to addressing homelessness. This book highlights the importance of permanently changing the ways in which we react to homelessness: away from solely treating the individual and toward addressing the systemic barriers that create exclusion and deepen poverty.
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