How Canada can “make the shift” to change the youth impacted by homelessness

(Courtesy of Jon Tyson, Unsplash)

Last week, Excalibur brought attention to the Toronto Centre of Excellence on Youth Homeless Prevention run by York professor Stephen Gaetz and A Way Home Canada’s (AWHC) President and CEO Melanie Redman. The Centre of Excellence is one of their many initiatives focused on curbing youth homelessness and poverty.

More recently, Redman, Gaetz and a variety of others have devoted much of their energy towards a particular endeavor that is organized by AWHC along with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) called Making the Shift

Redman states that the focus of Making the Shift is meant “to generate new knowledge that will help us move away from our current response to youth homelessness, which is a crisis response, to one that focuses on prevention.” Making the Shift is currently funding original research in order to gain new knowledge on ways to challenge and appropriately deal with youth homelessnesss.

Making the Shift is also currently “conducting ‘demonstration projects’ on models of prevention in communities across Canada.” Redman reveals that these community-based projects have “supported 1,692 young people as a means of preventing them from becoming homeless or to move them out of homelessness quickly with wraparound supports that lead to positive outcomes in the areas of well-being, social inclusion, education and employment.” 

Making the Shift has now funded 31 original research projects to fill knowledge gaps and expect the next three and half years to be incredibly generative with what they will have accomplished and attained by that point. Redman has acknowledged AWHC and COH’s primary goal is to make this “new knowledge matter in terms of public policy, investment and practice.”

In regards to how the pandemic has impacted the organizations’ plans, Redman has mentioned that they have had to adapt to the world’s circumstances with the pandemic, but has maintained that they are on solid ground.

For the President of Maytree and Chair of Making the Shift, Elizabeth McIsaac, the pandemic has apparently provided even more work for those involved. “Project teams have made adjustments to their timelines, budgets and strategies to manage the challenges of the pandemic. Some have even leveraged the opportunity, adding the effects of the pandemic to their research scope.” 

McIsaac sheds light on numerous other projects and programs the organizations are involved in, particularly mentioning projects conducted by Dr. Erin Dej, Dr. Alex Abramovich, Dr. Alex Wilson, and Dr. Ronald Kneebone, who all have the unified intention of putting an end to youth homelessness and poverty. 

Making the Shift has four key initiatives according to McIsaac that involve “funding innovative research, mobilizing research knowledge, building capacity in the sector,” which involves “training and hands-on coaching” for those who are interested. Lastly, they want to promote promising programs that deal with intervention, housing stability and sustained exits from homelessness.

For their 2022 Call for Proposals, which closes February 28, Making the Shift is looking for proposals in “youth focused harm reduction, legal and justice Issues, cost-benefit analysis, evictions prevention, understanding the role of linked administrative data, pathways into homelessness and open prevention topics,” according to McIsaac.

About the Author

By Nick Mokrzewski

Former Editor

Nick is in his third year of Film Production at York University. Raised in an artistic family, he’s never had much problem expressing himself whether it be through music, writing, or comedic rants. He’s a big sucker for watching and critiquing films, going to concerts, professional wrestling, and consuming coffee or chocolate. Nick intends to have many artistic pursuits in either writing, filmmaking, or anything that involves music — whatever suits his fancy on the given day. He’ll often tell you “life is short, seize the moment ‘cause tomorrow you might be dead!”


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments