Assessing emergency shelter patterns to inform community solutions to homelessness



Rabinovitch H, Pauly B & Zhao J (2016) Assessing emergency shelter patterns to inform community solutions to homelessness. Housing Studies, 31 (8), pp. 984-997.

The goal of this study was to examine individuals’ emergency shelter stay records to gain insight into cycles of homelessness and strategies to end homelessness. We examined over 46 000 records of 4332 unique individuals from six of Victoria, Canada’s adult emergency shelters from May 2010–May 2014. Individuals’ stay records were clustered using the k-means cluster analysis, based on total days stayed and total number of episodes of homelessness over the four-year period. Consistent with other Canadian cities, three significant clusters emerged from the analysis: temporary, episodic and long stay. The episodic and long-stay cluster accounted for more than 50 percent of shelter bed nights. Age and gender were analyzed, with seniors more likely to be represented in the long-stay cluster. These findings highlight the need for prevention and rapid re-housing initiatives for those experiencing temporary shelter use, and housing with intensive supports for those in the episodic and long-stay clusters.

Homelessness; cluster analysis; emergency shelter; homelessness solutions; emergency shelter use patterns;

Housing Studies: Volume 31, Issue 8

Publication date30/11/2016
Publication date online28/04/2016
Date accepted by journal21/02/2016
PublisherTaylor & Francis

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Professor Bernadette Pauly

Professor Bernadette Pauly

Honorary Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences