Shelter Bans Among People Experiencing Homelessness: an Exploratory Study of Predictors in Two Large Canadian Datasets

J Urban Health. 2022 Oct;99(5):842-854. doi: 10.1007/s11524-022-00680-0. Epub 2022 Sep 7.


Emergency shelters are a core component of homeless service systems that address immediate basic needs. Service bans, which refer to temporary or permanent disallowances from a program or organization, are an underresearched phenomenon that can leave people experiencing homelessness without needed supports. This exploratory study examined the factors associated with shelter bans among people experiencing homelessness using secondary data from two Canadian studies: (1) a multisite randomized controlled trial of Housing First (At Home/Chez Soi Demonstration Project) and (2) a cross-sectional survey of youth experiencing homelessness across Canada (2019 Without a Home-National Youth Homelessness Survey). The two datasets were analyzed separately using logistic regression models with similar predictors to maximize the comparability of the results. Participants who experienced homelessness at an earlier age and had recent criminal justice system involvement were more likely to have shelter bans in both datasets. Impaired impulse control, more chronic medical conditions and living in Toronto were associated with increased likelihood of shelter bans in the At Home/Chez Soi dataset, whereas more adverse childhood experiences, physical violence victimization, engagement in survival sex behaviours and longer current episodes of homelessness were significant predictors of bans in the Without A Home dataset. Overall, the findings suggest that victimization and criminalization during homelessness may increase the risk of shelter loss from bans and further exclusion. The observed regional differences also highlight the potential limits of individual-level predictors. Further research is needed on shelter ban outcomes, as well as how capacity limits and organizational policies affect banning decisions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Canada
  • Crime Victims*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*