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Learn how we’re keeping our campus community safe, healthy and engaged during our gradual return to campus.
Note: The university’s mandatory vaccine directive is now in effect. Learn more about vaccine requirements.

Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

About this project

The Region of Durham 2014-2024 Housing Plan, At Home in Durham, identifies ending homelessness in Durham as one of its four main goals. An initial step towards this goal is to tap into client experience around pathways to sustainable housing and a livable income. According to the Region of Durham Social Services Department (RDSS), in 2014 the largest portion (73 per cent) of shelter guests in Durham Region were single without children. Understanding the positive and negative experiences of those who have navigated their way to stable housing may serve to identify barriers to successful exits from homelessness.

This study examines the stories and histories of 30 singles in Durham Region who have successfully transitioned from homelessness to stable housing by interviewing individuals who wished to participate and met the following criteria:

  • Are between 30 and 55 years old.
  • Are single.
  • Are living in the Region of Durham.
  • Have experienced at least one incidence of homelessness.
  • Have been stably housed at their current place of residence for six months or more.

These criteria were specifically chosen to represent those identified as high concern: single (not married or in a common law or civil union) individuals between 30 and 55. This group of people tend to use services on a long-term basis and make up the majority of guests at emergency shelters, which would suggest their needs are not being met. It is hoped that by hearing their stories and experiences as they have transitioned to stable housing, and by knowing what they believe helped or could have helped in their transition, this project will contribute to public policy literature on homelessness and will be used to structure policies within Durham to better meet the needs and circumstances of those who need aid.

This project is a building block in the journey of examining housing issues in the Region of Durham. Building on the extant scholarship, it argues that any attempt to develop a comprehensive housing program in Durham Region must not only recognize the benefits of Housing First strategies, but also come to grips with the specific needs and identities of those individuals requiring housing assistance.

This project has evolved from its early stages in a variety of ways and has finally been called, Out of Homelessness: Vulnerability of Unattached Individuals in Durham Region. This project was formally titled Singles at Risk: Issues of Housing and Pathways out of Homelessness.

Interested in the report?

  • Connect with us

    We are happy to report this project has been completed and the research report available. The executive summary and the final research report are available to be viewed here on our website under research results

    If you are interested in learning more about this project or know of a location where you would like to see paper copies of the report available, contact us as 905.721.8668 ext. 2653 or email

  • The interviews

    This project involved 30 interviews: 15 men and 15 women. The interviews were approximately one hour long; however, some sessions were shorter or longer than this, depending on how much participants were willing to share. Participants were generous with their information and we learned a great deal about which services they value, what services they wish were available to them, and which services' current structures could improve to better meet their needs. To demonstrate appreciation for their time, we offered participants a $40 President's Choice gift card, redeemable at a variety of grocery stores including No Frills, Loblaws and the Real Canadian Superstore.

    If you were one of the participants, we would like to remind you that your privacy will be protected at each stage of the process. The information you provided will remain anonymous and confidential and is linked only to your case ID and the pseudonym you chose. If you have concerns about your interview session or would like to withdraw one or all of your answers, please contact us and we will withdraw your data. We would like for you to know that this will be easier if you contact us before June 2017 when the audio recordings of the interview are to be destroyed; that way we can verify your voice with your interview session. To withdraw specific answers, or fully withdraw from the project, please contact us at:

    If you had any concerns about how the interview session was conducted, or if have any questions regarding your rights as a participant, complaints or adverse events, you may contact the Ethics and Compliance Officer, Research Ethics Board at or 905.721.8668 ext. 3693.

  • Interview questions

    Below is the interview package containing questions participants were asked. Viewers should be aware that while interviews were structured around the below information, probing and additional questions were asked at the discretion of the interviewer; therefore, interview sessions may have differed slightly from that which is provided below.


    Singles at risk: Issues of housing and pathways out of homelessness

    Requirements for participation

    • You must be between the ages of 30 and 55 years of age to participate.
    • You must be living in Durham Region.
    • You must have been living in the same place for at least six months or longer.
    • You must have had at least one incident of homelessness before living at your current location.
    • You  must be single.

    Interview set


    We are interested in how people manage their living accommodations day to day. We would like to know more about your housing situation, and what is helpful and not helpful in being able to keep your current place.

    I'm going to start by asking you a few questions about your age and background. We are asking everyone these questions so we can describe the range of different people we interviewed in our study. We are not going to ask your name, so the information will be anonymous.








    Age - What year were you born in? - or - How old are you?

    Year of birth

    Age at time of study



    Do you identify as Aboriginal?



    No answer


    What language do you most often speak at home?


    Probe for interviewer:


    Other (specify)


    How long have you lived in Durham Region (Clarify: Durham Region includes Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Scugog, Brock and Clarington)?


    Probe for interviewer: City, town, region, province, country.


    Now we would like to ask you a few questions about your status in Canada.



    Are you a Canadian citizen?



    No answer

    If 'no,' probe:

    Are you new to Canada (i.e. have been here for five years or less)?



    No answer

    Do you have refugee status?



    No answer

    Do you have landed immigrant status?



    No answer


    (Please specify)


    Are you single, in a relationship (married or common law), separated or divorced?



    Common law          





    Do you have any children?                                                                                   Yes     No

    (Probe: How many?)

    Do you have any pets?                                                                                           Yes     No

    To the best of your memory, how often did you or you and your family move when you were growing up? Do you think it was:


    Never moved           

    One or two times   

    Three to five times       

    Six to 10 times     

    More than 10 times


    Were you ever in some form of protective care before you were 18, such as foster care, group home, etc.?    



    No answer

    Shelter-to-income ratio

    We are interested in knowing about how easy or difficult it is to pay your rent. To do this, we would like to calculate how much money you spend to run your household, and how much income comes into your household. This is called the shelter-income ratio and gives us a good indication of how easy or difficult it is to meet payments for your monthly bills. On average, how much do you pay for:

    Your full rent each month


    Do you receive some form of rent/accommodation subsidy?    

         (Probe, if so how much?) = $



    Electricity each month


    Gas or oil to heat your home each month


    Water each month


    Phone each month (Probe: If bundled, get estimate about how much of bundle is for phone only).


    How much (not including subsidy mentioned above), on average, is your monthly household income? (Clarify: Household income is all income that comes into the household that you live in from all sources). What are your sources of income?


    Education and work:

    What is the highest level of education you have achieved?

    • public/primary school (grades 1 to 6)
    • junior high school (grades 7 and 8)
    • secondary school (grades 9 to 12 or 13)
    • some college or university
    • completed community college certificate or diploma
    • bachelor’s degree
    • master’s degree
    • doctoral degree
    • other (please specify)

    Are you currently in:


    Full time                                  Part time

    A training or apprenticeship program

    Full time                                  Part time


    Full time                                  Part time

    For those employed full time:
    • How long have you been working at your current place of employment?
    • Do you consider your employment situation to be stable and secure?
    • For those employed full time: Please rank the quality of your non-wage employment benefits/compensation (medical, pension, dental, stock-options): 
      Non-existent- I do not have these types of benefits where I work.
    For those employed in part-time work:
    • How many part-time jobs do you have?
    • How many hours a week (on average) do you work?
    • Would you prefer to be employed in a full-time position with full-time hours?
      Yes          No           Don’t know          No answer

    Questions - Singles who are at risk of becoming homeless

    Current living situation

    We would like to know more about how you came to be living in this home.

    • How long have you been living in your current living situation?
    • How affordable do you think your living situation is?
      Not at all affordable             Barely affordable                 Affordable     Very affordable
      Can you tell us a bit more about your answer?
    • How suitable is this current living situation to accommodate your needs?
      Not at all suitable                 Barely suitable                     Suitable         Very suitable
      Can you tell us a bit more about your answer?
    • How did you find your current living accommodations? (Probe: Did you hear about it from a friend or relative, did you find it using a housing service, etc.).
    • How many people do you share your home with?
    • Do you share the costs of housing and bills?
    Pathways into homelessness
    • Have you ever been homeless (Clarify: By homeless we mean that you were not able to stay in the same place for more than six months. For example, couch surfing, staying with friends, using shelters, and so on).
    • How many times has this happened over your lifetime?
    • We would like to know a little about the last time this happened. When was that? Can you tell us a bit more about that time and what that looked like? (Probe: Were you working at the time?)
    • Can you tell us a little bit about what you think are the circumstances that led up to that point? (Probe: Did you have any health issues?)
    Pathways out of homelessness

    We are interested in knowing a bit about how you moved from your last incidence of homelessness to where you are now. 

    • Do you like where you currently live?
    • Can you tell us a little bit about what you found the most helpful in finding your current home? (Probe: Housing or employment services, family support, friends, etc.)
    • What was the least helpful in finding your current home? (Probe: Housing or employment services, family support, friends, etc.)
    • What has been helpful to you in managing your current living situation? (Probe: Having friends in the same circumstances, strong family support, access to free food, a steady source of income, no one hassling them, etc.)
    • Is anything threatening your current housing situation? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
    • What additional supports (e.g. friends, family, employment services, housing services, etc.) would you like that you do not have now? What kind of support would make your life easier right now?
    • What advice would you give others who were in your same situation?
  • Why did we change the name?
    The Out of Homelessness project was formerly known as Singles at Risk and was changed following the compilation of the interviewees testimonials. Upon reviewing their stories and the shared insights, the research team and our community supporters believed Out of Homelessness: Vulnerability of Unattached Individuals in Durham Region to be a comprehensive title, more reflected of the individuals this study represents. This study respects and deeply appreciates those willing to participate in this research. We are committed to representing them accurately and we believe that this change of title lends itself to this commitment.