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Homelessness (or unhoused) describes situations whereby individuals do not have a physical shelter and live unhoused in spaces exposed to the physical elements or in spaces not designed to house people. Homelessness is primarily attributed to the lack of housing options available and accessible to those in need.

Transitional Housing is a short-term housing solution to fill the gap between homelessness and housing. Other services may be provided in these types of shelters to support residents, including addiction treatments or mental health services.

Emergency Shelters serve to house residents who have been displaced and without a home due to a variety of reasons. This may include domestic violence, health issues, or financial hardships. With many communities, there are often permanent or seasonal emergency shelters in dedicated structures run by non-profits. The surge in natural disasters has increased the need for emergency shelters, these often being temporary shelters in municipal buildings (e.g. community centers) or arenas to manage a large influx of displaced families.

Supportive Housing aims to help those in the community who have experienced homelessness, but are ready to live in more permanent housing with rental or other financial assistance.

Community Housing is social housing or public housing for people or families on low income who can’t afford to rent or buy market-rate housing. These structures may include purpose built low-income buildings or subsidized units within market-rate buildings. Community Housing is deemed to be affordable housing, but not all Affordable Housing is Community Housing.

Affordable Housing—which includes both rental and the purchase of homes—denotes housing that falls under the 30% gross monthly wages. This threshold is getting more difficult to achieve as market housing prices outpaces increase in incomes.

Market Housing refers to housing in the marketplace that follows supply and demand movements with prices (rental and purchase prices) neither subsidized nor capped.