Intersectionality and older adult experiences of homelessness: A social justice approach

October 21, 2022

Dukart, A., Hoselton, J., Walsh, C., Mahmood, A., Sussman, T. & Canham, S. L. (2022, October). Intersectionality and older adult experiences of homelessness: A social justice approach [paper presentation]. Canadian Association on Gerontology 2022 Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, Regina, SK, Canada.


Older adults are increasingly representative of the homeless population in Canada, and other Western countries. The rise in homelessness among older adults can be attributed to population aging, a shifting age structure, and the added consequences of poverty, economic volatility, housing affordability and subsidized housing availability, decreased social programs and social assistance benefits, and increased rates of mental health issues and substance use. Beyond the effects of classism, older adults experiencing homelessness face multiple and intersecting forms of oppression, including ageism, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia. In our research with older adults with experiences of homelessness in Montréal, Calgary, and Vancouver we employ an intersectional framework to illuminate ways in which this theory, grounded in social justice praxis, can be applied to research and practice. The increasing prevalence of older adults experiencing homelessness, combined with the complexities that intersecting identity markers produce demand research that recognizes where an older person lives must match their unique lifestyles and vulnerabilities. In addition to understanding the systemic issues and barriers this population are confronted with to improve their health and well-being and to becoming housed, the multiple sites of oppression older adults face necessitate a research and practice approach aimed at social justice. Implementing intersectional theory into research serves as a call to action to improve housing options to meet the unique and complex health and social needs of older adults.