As we lead into the five days of homelessness, I found it relevant to post on homelessness. For the first time, I will be first hand experiencing what it means to be homeless. While I can’t say, it will be the same for me as it is for people who deal with it on a daily basis it will be an excellent learning experience. For five days I will sleep outside, have no access to showers or changes of clothes, no technology, and no access to food other than what is donated. This is an incredibly big challenge for me, however, it is not futile. This experience will not only help me grow but also raise money and awareness for homeless populations. I have included the link to donate, and if you choose to, please select the University of Lethbridge to help us reach our goal of $10,000. http://5days.ca/donate/

So what factors can affect homelessness?

Social factors that exist include addiction, family breakdown, and mental illness. These can then compound with structural forces, for example, lack of available low-cost housing, poor economic conditions, and insufficient mental health services. Together these dynamic relationships impact the levels of homelessness.

What is Fuzzy Logic or a Fuzzy Cognitive Map?

The study I am examining uses fuzzy cognitive maps and fuzzy logic to model the issue of homelessness, so before I continue let’s look at just what exactly these two things are.

Fuzzy Logic is defined by dictionary.com as “a branch of logic designed to allow degrees of imprecision in reasoning and knowledge, typified by terms such as `very’, `quite possibly’, and`unlikely’, to be represented in such a way that the information can be processed by a computer.”

Fuzzy Cognitive Map is actually rooted in conceptual cognitive maps. Axelrod defines cognitive maps as “visual representations of an individual’s ‘mental model’ constructs, and are therefore analogous to concept maps that represent a person’s structured knowledge or beliefs.” Fuzzy cognitive maps are simply an extension of this definition as they utilize fuzzy logic in creating a weighted, directed cognitive map.


Firstly in the study, they used fuzzy logic to convert information taken from recently published, peer-reviewed articles, for the aforementioned forces related to homelessness, from which they examined the strength of impact for pairs of factors. They proceeded to input these relationships into a fuzzy cognitive map to test the impact of increasing or decreasing individual or groups of factors. This technique allowed for a more realistic perspective of homelessness. Through this study they found that education was the most substantial force relating to homelessness.

Homelessness itself is an extremely complex social problem with immense structural and social factors. These factors, contribute to duration, frequency, and type of homelessness. To be fully homeless is to live without shelter; however, many experience partial homelessness that may include temporary, or sub-standard shelter. Homelessness is difficult to define, making it difficult for governments left struggling with uncertainty when attempting to create and implement policies that they expect will effectively manage or potentially dispose of this problem.


Some Statistics on homelessness

  • At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.
  • At least 150,000 Canadians a year use a homeless shelter at some point.
  • At least 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.
  • At least 50,000 Canadians are part of the “hidden homeless” on any given night — staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis as they have nowhere else to go.


So as we move forward into the five days of homelessness I ask everyone to reflect on these statistics and the problem we face with homelessness. Maybe you have experienced what it is like, or maybe you never have but I hope that as a community we can come together and raise awareness and money to help reduce the amount of homelessness our country faces.


One thought on “Homelessness”

  1. I think this topic is extremely important!
    I found a systematic review talking about the cognitive connections to adults who are homeless. The conclusion, out of a small sample of 3300, was that there are cognitive dysfunctions.
    Spence et al. (2004) mentions “…dysfunction might be expected to impact upon their ability to reintegrate into society, thereby undermining policies of inclusiveness.”
    The dysfunctions mentioned had to do with frontal lobe impairments that were tested using: “Wisconsin Card Sort Test, the Trails B and the Stroop”. (Spence et al., 2004).
    The article mentions that most of the studies examined were in the United States. A couple weeks ago I discussed WEIRD people and their impact on research. Spence et al. (2004) states that the results “…are not necessarily applicable to non-‘Western’ settings.”.
    Additionally Spence et al. (2004) says that the findings could also be applicable to at risk individuals, the example used was people living in poverty.

    Spence, S., Stevens, R., & Parks, R. (2004). Cognitive dysfunction in homeless adults: a systematic review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97(8), 375-379.


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