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How Long Could You Survive on the Streets?

Homelessness is one of the largest sociological issues in Canada. Every night, an estimated 235,000+ people find themselves without a place to call home.

It can be easy to walk by a homeless person on the sidewalk and dismiss them as irresponsible, not willing to work, addicted or making a lifestyle choice. For a person to become homeless, it usually means all other options have failed – and they are dealing with circumstances that make it difficult to obtain housing. No one chooses to be homeless – and every day spent without a home, is a battle to survive.

It is important to understand that no one is safe from homelessness. It can happen to anyone. Let’s stop and think for a moment. If you suddenly found yourself in their shoes, would you be able to survive the dangers of living on the streets?

Lack of Shelter

From December through March, the average low temperature in Toronto is well below 0°C. Even if you’re bundled up in coats and blankets, spending a night without shelter in these temperatures can quickly lead to frostbite and hypothermia. Adding in wet clothes from rain and snow is a recipe for serious illness, injury, and even death.

While shelters and emergency respites work hard to give everyone a warm place to spend the night, they’re often filled to capacity. There’s no guarantee you’ll find a bed, and if you try to find shelter in a public place, you might be asked to move along.

A homeless man is sitting and leaning against street mailbox

Lack of Basic Necessities

The fastest way to stop taking food, water, clothing, and hygiene for granted is to spend time without a home.

Having no income means you’re forced to rely on the generosity of strangers and support from shelters to meet your basic needs.

But even for people who do have some form of income, not having a place to keep items means you can’t stock up on food, toiletries, menstrual products, or clothing. This often leaves them living day by day with no idea where their next meal, drink, or shower is coming from.

Black homeless woman on the street

Lack of Access to Quality Healthcare

Being homeless makes you vulnerable to injury and illness. Without access to first aid supplies and medicine, even small wounds and common colds can become serious problems.

Chronic health conditions complicate things even further. Mental illnesses, diabetes, respiratory conditions, and infectious diseases all need regular treatment to manage. But when you can’t afford basic healthcare, you’re forced to ignore the symptoms or self-medicate and hope for the best.

If you’re a woman on the streets, you’re even more likely to face violence and physical, sexual, and emotional assault. And if you’re menstruating or pregnant, you have a high chance of developing infections or complications from unsanitary menstrual products, stressful conditions, and a poor diet.

Lack of Connection

The worst part about being homeless might be social isolation. Living on the streets will leave you cut off from society and without a support system.

When all you want in the world is a smiling face and a bit of compassion, you’re more often met with judgment and rejection – or ignored altogether. This leads to loneliness and hopelessness that can feel impossible to escape.

A homeless man is sad and sitting on the street and holding a cup

How You Can Help End Homelessness

Surviving on the streets is so difficult that many people facing homelessness don’t have the energy or resources to change their situation by themselves. If you’re ready to help and take a stand against homelessness in your city, now is the time to start.

At Fred Victor, we’re working hard to create long-lasting and positive change in Toronto by providing the support systems people need to get their lives back on track. But we can’t do it without your help.

Join us and help people who are homeless by making a donation today.