Homelessness, Equity and Inclusion

Although structural and systemic racism may look different throughout the world, we see an undeniable global throughline between racism and homelessness, with homelessness disproportionately affecting groups who have been historically marginalized. The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH), Funders Together to End Homelessness, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), and the Canadian Lived Experience Leadership Network (CLELN) have a shared commitment to actively working to counter inequities, including racism, in the work to prevent and end homelessness. 

For our first Community of Impact webinar this year, we were joined by Donald Whitehead — Executive Director at National Coalition for the Homeless — a national network of people with lived experienced homelessness; activists; advocates; community-based and faith-based service providers; and others committed to preventing and ending homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights are respected and protected. The discussion was moderated by Stephanie Chan — Chief Strategy Officer at Funders Together to End Homelessness. Funders Together to End Homelessness provides critical resources and learning and networking opportunities to our members to increase their knowledge, capacity, and effectiveness in both the individual and collective work around housing justice as a way to end homelessness and housing instability.

Donald shared details about NCH’s Lived Experience Training Academy (LETA) — a development course designed to equip people with lived experience of homelessness to occupy leadership roles in advocacy work. LETA is led and designed by  Donald and his colleagues Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, David Peery, Jeff Olivet, and Michelle Bush and informed by focus groups conducted with people with lived experience. LETA’s core curriculum includes the history of homelessness, financial literacy, organizing and advocacy incorporates themes such as accounting for trauma, self-care, and transformative leadership practices.

During a robust question and answer (Q&A) session, participants inquired about practical approaches to equitable partnership with people with lived experience, how to respond to resistance to DEI efforts, avoiding tokenism and ensuring that people with lived experience have decision-making power.

Donald highlighted that at NCH, centering lived expertise has become common practice and is embedded throughout NCH’s policies and practices. He said, “when we start a project, the first thing that we do is figure out how it affects people experiencing homelessness”. He shared insights about how homelessness, housing and public health agencies such as the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have taken a collective impact approach by coordinating their effort to learn what works and what doesn’t work. He also highlighted that agencies like NCH have proven that the centering of lived expertise and racial equity can both be prioritized in social change work. Donald suggested that practitioners in social change work be informed about traumas associated with lived experience and be intentional about preventing further harm when people with lived experience are contributing to the work. LETA’s inclusion of trauma-informed care as part of the curriculum helps to prevent re-traumatization of people with lived experience entering advocacy work. Learn more about racial equity here.

Stephanie suggested that tokenism can be avoided when practitioners, stakeholders, researchers and advocates work alongside people with lived experience — ensuring that they have roles at all levels of the work to prevent and end homelessness, and other intersecting issues. Learn more about rights-based participation here and about equity-based decision-making here. In closing, she left everyone with this question for reflection:

 “If you do not have lived experience and have occupied or currently occupy a position of leadership and/or decision-making, what kinds of learning or training opportunities can you use to become more equipped to relinquish power so that people with lived experience can occupy space and be a part of decision-making.” (paraphr.)

We recognize that learning how to carry out the work to prevent and end homelessness equitably is never done. We are committed to continuous knowledge exchange with our global community about the intersection between homelessness and diversity, equity, and inclusion and transparency about our progress and implementation.

Links to Resources

Vanguard Trip: Santiago de Chile, Montevideo, Uruguay, and São Paulo, Brazil

We’re so grateful for the chance to travel again and be with our colleagues in person. We were able to spend time in South America during the months of July and August, learning from and working with our Vanguard Program partners. Our key takeaways were: the core issues of homelessness are very similar all around the world, with rising challenges in accessing housing, serving people with complex needs, complications in cross-sector partnerships, and thinking through creating people-centered systems that quickly resolve homelessness with permanent solutions. But another takeaway is that all our partners are passionate, innovative, dedicated, and willing to learn from mistakes and from each other, which gives us continued optimism that we can all rise together to meet the urgent challenge of homelessness.  

Meeting with the National Street Team for the Chilean Ministry of Social Development and Families

In Santiago de Chile, we met with our partners at the National Street Team in the Ministry of Social Development and Families (MDSF). Our first site visit was with Nuestra Casa, which has collective housing as well as a Housing First program. We met with a Housing First resident, Santiago, an artist, who talked about his experience in Nuestra Casa’s HF program as well as showing us his work, carved lanterns.  Next, we had a meeting with the service delivery team of the Barrio Calle program, an intersectoral project to reduce homelessness in two neighborhoods in Santiago through street outreach and integrated services. We heard about their challenges in accessing housing units and serving people with complex needs. IGH also presented at two forums, an NGO forum and a collective of real estate developers and business people, sharing some global examples that they can adapt to drive housing solutions in Chile. And we worked with our partners at CISCAL to continue planning the next International Journal on Homelessness conference which will be held near Santiago in January 2025 (exact dates to come soon!).

Our first meeting in Uruguay was with MIDES Minister Lema, Fernanda Auersperg, Gabriel Cunha and Antonio Manzi

The next stop on our trip was Montevideo, Uruguay. We worked closely with the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) and visited many housing programs for families and individuals, shelters, and specialized housing programs for people living with mental and physical disabilities, substance use, and returning citizens. We were particularly impressed with their central street outreach dispatch and booking program, which ensures that 100% of people who want shelter have it. IGH took part in their biannual point-in-time count, which they use alongside real-time administrative data, to track important data and trends to better inform their approach to homelessness. Most of the homeless services in Uruguay are contracted through the central government, and MIDES has focused in the last year on broadening partnerships with civil society. We visited several organizations benefiting from this new approach including Ceprodih, a workforce development program focused on supporting single mothers (pictured below).  We had the opportunity to talk with many people who have lived experience of homelessness, including people from Colectivo Ni Todo Esta Perdido and Centro Autogestionado Viladevoz, a collective who live together and work together to manage a radio station. Uruguay is IGH’s first Vanguard Country, and we were so thankful for the opportunity to see the diverse range of programs, share mate, and have deeper conversations with our partners talking about new strategies, challenges, and work to collaborate across sectors. 

In São Paulo, Brazil, we were delighted to sign the formal Vanguard City partnership agreement with the city administration including the Mayor of São Paulo, Municipal Secretary of Assistance and Social Development, Municipal Secretary for human rights and citizenship, and the Municipal Secretary for International relations. The agreement was also signed with the Institute for Economic Research Foundation (FIPE).  IGH, FIPE, and the city administration are working together on a new initiative to support youth at risk or experiencing homelessness. We also toured day centers, housing programs, and visited with people with the lived experience of homelessness and service providers, including the Rede Rua program.

The signatories of the São Paulo Vanguard City Agreement

¡Gracias a todos nuestros colegas por un gran viaje!

IGH at the United Nations (UN) | Q&A

The Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness at DePaul University (IGH) works with partners around the world to drive a global movement to define, enumerate, and end homelessness. On April 27, 2022, the IGH team took part in the United Nations Human Settlements Program’s Special Event on Affordable Housing and Ending Homelessness at the UN Headquarters in New York City. 

The IGH team:

Tiffany Connolly, IGH Administration Assistant, BA from DePaul University 

Lydia Stazen, IGH Executive Director, MPP from DePaul University 

Julia Wagner, IGH Program Manager

Below is a short Q&A on the meeting and what it means for our work at DePaul. 

Why was IGH at the UN for this meeting? 

Lydia: IGH has a partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). Together, we planned a special event to raise awareness of homelessness as an issue that is critical to address if we want to have sustainable cities around the world. 

Who was at the meeting?

Julia: The event was chaired by Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. Representatives from IGH’s Vanguard Cities program from Bengaluru, Montevideo, and Tshwane representing national government, civil society, and local universities. There were also representatives from UN member states, including Madagascar, Kenya, Jordan, El Salvador, and mayors from across the world.

What was your experience being at the UN and New York for the first time?

Tiffany: I was thrilled to see our colleagues from Uruguay, India, South Africa, the UK, and New York — meeting some of them for the first time. There’s something really special about convening in person and reinforcing the connections between the work being done on the ground in each country. I found great gratitude in attending UN-HABITAT’s Special Event on Affordable Housing and Ending Homelessness and sharing the powerful ideas that were presented during the event, in real-time, to our larger network via social media

What were some highlights of the meeting?

Julia: Each of the speakers spoke around central themes: the fact that homelessness is solvable, collaboration is critical both on the ground and globally, and the importance of creating urgency around the issue of solving homelessness in their local communities.  It was so great to have the power of international representation and to hear the support on this issue from member states and mayors. You can find out more about the meeting on the UN website and you can watch the event recording.

What are the next steps?

Lydia: IGH will continue to partner with the UN-HABITAT to advocate for homelessness to receive even greater attention within the United Nations, and will offer support to Member States interested in addressing homelessness through policy and practice. 

How does this relate to our work at DePaul to live by Vincentian values?

Tiffany: Community and Collaboration is a core value at DePaul University. IGH is continuously seeking opportunities to unify efforts at the local, national and international levels through intentional partnerships. An essential part of IGH’s mission is to, meaningfully, work alongside people with lived experience of homelessness and other community members who are most impacted by homelessness to catalyze systemic change. As our colleague and the event’s opening speaker, Rob Robinson said, “more people with lived experience of homelessness should be invited to these events to advocate alongside global leaders.”

Favorite Moment of the Trip:

Tiffany: My favorite part of the trip was taking part in the prep meeting between the IGH team and global partners to prepare for UN-HABITAT’s high-level meeting — seeing different partners sharing ideas and discussing ways to strengthen their messages in order to maximize the opportunity to advocate for solutions to homelessness. That was powerful to me.

Lydia: My favorite moment was when Rob Robinson, a person with the lived experience of homelessness, kicked off the meetings with his powerful remarks. Rob said that we have the knowledge to end homelessness – we just need the political will to do it. I couldn’t agree more! 

Julia: My favorite moments were being able to hear our Vanguard City partners share so passionately about their work. I have had many Zoom conversations with our partners about their programs, and it was fantastic to see them in person and hear them speak at the UN on ending homelessness locally and globally.

To learn more about IGH’s global homelessness advocacy, visit https://ighomelessness.org/advocating-for-change/

Launch of the International Journal on Homelessness: What We’ve Learned

IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series

Reese Hagy

23 November 2021

Introducing the International Journal on Homelessness

The most recent installment of the IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series celebrated the launch of the International Journal of Homelessness (IJOH), the first issue of which was published earlier this month. The IJOH is supported by the Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness and Western University in London, Ontario. The IJOH aims to facilitate academic discourse on the phenomenon of global homelessness from a variety of international perspectives. The webinar featured presentations by several contributors to the first issue of the IJOH who discussed their research and participated in a Q&A session. The webinar presentations featured a variety of content, addressing topics such as prevention, lived experience, housing issues, and more. 

IJOH Managing Editor and Western University Associate Professor Abe Oudshoorn delivered the opening remarks for the webinar. Oudshoorn recounted his experience working with people experiencing homelessness while working as a nurse and explained how this led him to understand the importance of systems change in addressing the issue of homelessness. He noted that while homelessness is a complex problem, in that it is influenced by several factors including social and economic conditions and the personal complexity of individuals, the solutions to it are rather straightforward: housing, and where applicable, supports and services that help people maintain housing. Oudshoorn explained that the purpose of the IJOH is to help make these solutions a reality and to hasten this process by providing a space for knowledge and research sharing from different parts of the world, with an intentional focus on countries that tend to be overlooked in this area. 

Research in the First Issue of the IJOH

Examining the needs of persons experiencing homelessness: Bringing the voice of lived experience to policy priorities

Sarah Canham from the University of Utah discussed her research on the needs of homeless people and how they are being addressed through public policy as understood through the perspective of people with lived experience of homelessness. Through interviews with 15 people with lived experience of homelessness, Canham and her co-authors identified several challenges related to housing and shelter policies that could be addressed through public policy and concluded that policymakers should take steps to better align policy responses with the needs and concerns of those who are impacted by homelessness. 

Exploring the use of Hotels as Alternative Housing by Domestic Violence Shelters During COVID-19

Jill Veenendaal discussed research on the use of hotels to house women experiencing domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, Canada. Veenendall and two other researchers interviewed women who had stayed in the shelter hotels, shelter workers, and shelter directors to better understand the challenges and benefits associated with this intervention. The researchers found the use of hotels tended to meet the basic shelter needs of many of those who stayed in them and also generally provided them more autonomy than traditional shelter settings. Drawbacks associated with the implementation of the program studied included increased difficulty accessing basic necessities (e.g., food, diapers) compared to shelter settings and a lack of sufficient space over the long-term (e.g.,  if the women were accompanied by children). 

Exit Pathways from Shelters for Homeless People in Montevideo

Thomas Evans from the Ministerio de Desarrollo Social (MIDES) and Universidad de la República in Uruguay presented the findings from a study analyzing the process of shelter users exiting street homelessness. Interviews were conducted with 30 men who had previous contact with the MIDES Street Program (“Programma Calle”) shelter system to better understand the factors that contributed to the ending of their homelessness. Three core types of exit were identified through the study: 1) exit supported by primary networks (e.g., family, friends, acquaintances); 2) independent exit (generally aided by improved income and job opportunities), and 3) institutional support (through more public policy-related means, such as income supports, supportive housing, etc.). 

Advancing a Five-Level Typology of Homelessness Prevention

IJOH Europe Editor-in-Chief Peter Mackie from Cardiff University detailed the characteristics of a five-stage typology of homelesssness prevention developed in collaboration with IJOH Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Jenny Wood from Heriot-Watt University. Their five-stage typology of homelessness prevention underscores the following types of prevention: 1) universal prevention, 2) upstream prevention, 3) crisis prevention, 4) emergency prevention, and 5) repeat prevention. Mackie and his colleagues used the typology to evaluate the efficacy of current homeless prevention policies in the UK and identify areas for change.

The Role of Universal Basic Income in Preventing and Ending Homelessness

The concluding presentation was given by Nick Kerman, PhD from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario. Kerman discussed the role of universal basic income (UBI) in preventing and ending homelessness and highlighted the potential risks and benefits associated with implementing a UBI. While Kerman acknowledged that UBI would not eradicate homelessness on its own, he argued that there is reason to believe that it could act as a complement to current programs and income supports targeting homelessness and called for more research to be done on this topic.

You can access resources and additional information about this webinar series on IGH’s Community of Impact website. To learn more about the International Journal on Homelessness, visit their website. You can watch the full webinar video on Youtube.

Housing First in International Contexts: What We’ve Learned

IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series

Reese Hagy

29 July 2021

Housing First is a model of homelessness intervention that is targeted towards people experiencing chronic homelessness. As opposed to ‘staircase’ models that generally require program participants to meet certain requirements before attaining standard housing, the Housing First model is a housing-led intervention that addresses homelessness by first providing secure accommodations to program participants and then working to address their needs through providing case management and access to services and support as needed.

As the evidence base for Housing First’s effectiveness has grown, the model has proliferated throughout the world. As it has been implemented in new and diverse socioeconomic and cultural contexts, Housing First has been adapted to suit new environments. This IGH Community of Impact webinar brought together Housing First experts to discuss the successes, prospects, and challenges related to Housing First’s development in an international context. Webinar speakers included:

  • Sam Tsemberis – Founder of Pathways Housing First
  • Karinna Soto – Jefa Oficina Nacional de Calle, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social y Familia, Gobierno de Chile
  • Susan McGee – CEO of Homeward Trust Edmonton (Canada)
  • Margaret Ann Brünjes – Chief Executive of Homelessness Network Scotland

Housing First v. Other Approaches

Sam Tsemberis, who developed the Housing First model in New York City in the 1990s, spoke first, contrasting the Housing First model with other models of homelessness responses. Tsemberis suggested conceptualizing homelessness programs as belonging to two broad categories: those that keep people homeless and those that end or prevent homelessness directly. Programs that focus on only temporarily sheltering people or providing treatment services often fail to adequately address the problem of homelessness. Conversely, programs that keep people housed, prevent them from becoming homeless, or provide housing without preconditions can be seen as a solution to the problem of homelessness directly by ensuring that people have access to housing.

Housing First falls into this latter category of housing programs, providing housing without other preconditions and emphasizing principles related to consumer choice; separation of housing and services; needs-based services; recovery-focused practice; and community integration and social inclusion. Tsemberis noted that this principled approach to addressing homelessness has now been tested through several random control trials and found to have double the success rate of the traditional ‘staircase’ model (~80% vs. ~40%). Tsemberis also cautioned that as Housing First is adapted to new contexts, it is essential that those implementing the model stay true to the core principles since fidelity to these principles is critical to the success of any Housing First program.

Adaptation & Success in Chile, Edmonton, and Scotland

Each of the speakers discussed the successes achieved through their Housing First programs. Karinna Sota reported that Chile’s program, which focuses primarily on homeless people 50 years and older who have been living on the street for over five years, has a housing success rate of 90%. Susan McGee, whose organization Homeward Trust Edmonton focuses heavily on indigenous homelessness, reported that their Housing First program had housed nearly 13,000 people since 2009, with 85% of people remaining housed after one year in the program. Margaret Ann Brünjes reported similarly high rates of housing success in Scotland, with the country as a whole having an average of 85%.

The rates of housing stability reported by the speakers are largely in line with those recounted by Tsemberis in regards to Housing First programs that have been effectively implemented. These outcomes suggest that the model can achieve similar levels of success in housing stability for the chronically homeless in varied contexts.

For Chile, Soto shared that the program has focused on community integration with Housing First being one of the programs in their Barrios Calle Cero program, an intersectoral strategy with the goal to reduce rough sleeping and advance in the goal committed as part of IGH’s Vanguard City program. The strategy is led by the Ministry of Social Development and Family, in alliance with different organizations public and private providing an installation of a network of integrated services.

McGee shared how Edmonton’s Housing First program is part of a robust system of housing with a coordinated access program to road map matching people to the right housing solution. Edmonton has also focused on providing indigenous-led housing first programs. With 60 percent of people experiencing homelessness identifying as indigenous, providing training to staff and programs with cultural supports has been critically important.

In Scotland, Homeless Network Scotland along with their partners developed Branching Out- A National Framework to start-up and scale-up Housing First. Brünjes spoke about the document which is both a route map and reference material for Scottish communities to scale up Housing First.

Housing First & COVID-19

The speakers also spoke of the challenges and opportunities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite launching their Housing First program during the pandemic, Soto mentioned that the program had been implemented successfully in Chile and likely resulted in cost savings overall. McGee noted that the pandemic has unfortunately had led to an increase of the inflow into homelessness in Edmonton and further argued that the sense of urgency created by the pandemic has served to refocus their efforts to address homelessness as the crisis that it is. Brünjes reported that homelessness was at record lows due to the pandemic, with fewer than ten people currently experiencing street homelessness in Glasgow. The pandemic also coincided with a shift in Scotland’s national framework for addressing homelessness.

Tsemberis pointed out that the pandemic had led to an unprecedented response to homelessness in many cities, such as in Los Angeles where people experiencing homeless were moved into hotels without having to meet restrictive requirements. The success and progress made by the three Housing First programs represented on the webinar, even in times of adversity, demonstrates that with adequate resources, commitment, and political will, Housing First can be an effective intervention for addressing chronic homelessness in various international contexts.

You can access resources and additional information from the webinar on IGH’s Community of Impact website. To learn more about international Housing First strategies, visit IGH’s Hub. You can watch the full webinar video on Youtube.

Homeless Prevention Strategies: What We’ve Learned

IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series

Reese Hagy

25 March 2021

How do communities work upstream to prevent homelessness? How does data and evidence inform targeted prevention strategies?

In our recent Community of Impact Webinar, we investigated these questions by featuring homeless prevention experts and strategies from around the globe. Homelessness prevention works to address the causes of homelessness before it occurs. Traditionally, homeless services and systems focus on serving people after they become homeless. Growing evidence indicates that prevention strategies help communities reduce the number of people entering the homeless system. People who experience homelessness are not homeless due to some innate characteristic that they possess; homelessness results after a failure of multiple systems. It is important to understand the gaps that exist in systems in order to disrupt the inflow of people becoming homeless and drive change. 

A comprehensive approach to homelessness prevention operates at different levels, addressing both direct causes of homelessness and working further ‘upstream’ to address issues contributing to the loss of housing. Certain prevention strategies involve targeting resources toward those who are at imminent risk of homelessness by providing services such as rental assistance or landlord-tenant mediation to those at risk of eviction. Other preventative approaches seek to identify risk factors – such as school absenteeism or contact with social services – well in advance and intervene prior to a point of crisis. Communities may also seek to address underlying structural issues such as housing stability, for example, by prioritizing affordable housing development or access to housing subsidies to combat homelessness. 

This IGH Community of Impact Webinar featured four experts on homelessness prevention, each bringing their own unique perspectives to the topic. 

  • Abe Oudshoorn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Western University in London, Ontario and the Managing Editor of the International Journal on Homelessness. 
  • Lynette Barnes, Manager of All Chicago’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program
  • Katie Shomacker and Melissa Matthews, Team Leaders for the Geelong Project

Below are key highlights from the webinar from each of our speakers:

Abe Oudshoorn, Ph.D: Prevention & Empowerment – A Review of International Prevention Strategies

Oudshoorn spoke on the importance of identifying the opportunities that exist for intervention and preventing an episode of homelessness. He discussed shelter intake practices in Canada that are targeted towards helping at-risk families access resources to stay in their current housing or move to accommodations other than a shelter. He also highlighted the importance of effective discharge planning and the need to ensure that people leaving institutions such healthcare facilities are not discharged into homelessness. These prevention tactics underscore the importance of thinking about how to address inflow into the homelessness system by identifying how people are entering into homelessness and addressing these gaps. 

Oudshoorn also discussed the concept of empowerment as it relates to helping people faced with homelessness have agency in their own lives, arguing that empowerment must be central to addressing homelessness, since the struggle against homelessness is intimately related to the larger struggle for human rights. Homelessness manifests differently depending on the social and cultural context. In one country homelessness may have a dimension related to security for housing for migrant workers, while in another it may have dimensions related to a patriarchal property rights regime. It is therefore essential to ensure that addressing homelessness entails also addressing underlying power imbalances that contribute to homelessness and housing insecurity in the first place. 

Lynette Barnes on All Chicago’s Emergency Financial Assistance

Barnes spoke about the work done through the All Chicago Emergency Financial Assistance Fund, which allocates financial assistance to people who are at risk of homelessness. The Fund traces its roots back to 1973 when it was established as a general emergency fund for those who could not obtain support through other social service agencies in Chicago. The fund evolved over the years into its current form, which Barnes explained as being geared toward providing “small amounts of assistance to prevent larger crises from happening.” By providing short-term financial support for rent, transportation, utilities, and other basic needs, the fund helps keep people housed and addresses some of the gaps in social services. 

Due to the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the fund recently partnered with the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing in order to prevent evictions. This was necessary, Barnes pointed out, since an eviction filing against a tenant can cause future complications for securing housing. Additionally, the fund has started engaging with landlords to secure units for their rapid rehousing activities, which helps to accommodate people living in encampments. Barnes closed by noting that the fund has distributed nearly eight million dollars to over 3,000 households throughout the course of 2020. 

The Geelong Project’s Youth Homelessness Prevention

Schomacker and Matthews shared a video about the work being done by the Geelong Project to prevent youth homelessness in Geelong, Australia. Youth homelessness in some contexts is less visible than other forms of homelessness, often manifesting as couch surfing or living in a series of impermanent arrangements. The Geelong Project works within the school system, using a comprehensive survey to identify students who may be at risk. Then, the project provides case work and support services to students and families to help with the issues they are facing. An early evaluation of the Geelong Project’s work found that it had achieved a 40 percent reduction in students presenting at youth homeless entry points and a 20 percent reduction in students dropping out of school. 

Data & Prevention

Each of the webinar panelists stressed the importance of a nuanced, community-centered, and data-driven approach to homelessness prevention. Oudshoorn mentioned the importance of using what data is available in a community to understand the groups who are in need. The Geelong Project ‘s school surveys collect  information on risk factors among students, allowing them to target their prevention efforts towards at-risk students. Barnes discussed the importance of having data on the people who are contacting the All Chicago emergency assistance fund for help, noting that the main driver of fund applications over the past year has been job loss related to the pandemic. Having quality data allows for a better understanding of the population that needs services and a more efficient allocation of scarce resources to prevent homelessness. 

You can access resources and additional information from the webinar on IGH’s Community of Impact website. To learn more about international prevention strategies, visit IGH’s Hub. You can watch the full webinar video on Youtube.

This Month in Homelessness: October 2020 sees launch of new initiatives to address homelessness globally

World Homeless Day (WHD) is observed on the 10th of October each year to increase awareness of the needs of people experiencing homelessness and opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness. WHD emerged from online discussions between people working to respond to homelessness from various parts of the world. The international awareness day aims to amplify the global movement to end homelessness. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals and organizations across the world continue large-scale efforts to combat the issue through research, virtual convenings and campaigns, and knowledge exchange.

Organizations continue to drive the Vincentian mission through urgent, collaborative responses to homelessness worldwide. St. Vincent de Paul led and inspired work with people experiencing street homelessness, including children and refugees. The DePaul University Division of Mission and Ministry (DMM) featured the Institute of Global Homelessness in their Seeds of the Mission campaign, which aimed to highlight stories of mission-in-action through which people at DePaul. DePaul’s Grounded in Mission: The plan for DePaul 2024 names street homelessness in strategic priority 1.2.C — “provide thought leadership in addressing pressing issues of social and environmental justice, including global efforts to eradicate street homelessness” and priority 1.2.E urges the university to “better coordinate and advance our mission-based community outreach efforts at the local, national, and international levels.” “The Vincentian values are at play in the work of IGH every single day,” said our Executive Director, Lydia Stazen. In theDMM campaign, Stazen discusses IGH’s three signature strategies of “see it, solve it, share it” to achieve its mission to eradicate global homelessness, in support of those goals.

Convened by The Shift, along with organizations worldwide, the Global Homelessness Action initiative provides people experiencing homelessness with an opportunity to collectively claim their right to housing. It aims to amplify individual voices and demand concrete and urgent action from governments through video, audio, and written testimonies. The Shift invites anyone living without shelter to claim their right to housing through the global campaign.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted racial inequity across the United States. According to the National Innovation Services (NIS), people experiencing homelessness are among those most affected by both the pandemic and the long-standing and compounding impacts of structural racism. The NIS Center for Housing Justice undertook a range of focus groups with people with lived experience of homelessness to improve understanding of the impacts and implications they have for policy and service priorities, through the Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response project. NIS produced population-specific briefs that included these top policy shifts: 1) crisis response that ends the use of large, 2) congregate shelters; 3) dignity-based services led by communities most affected by homelessness; affordable housing in the most impacted communities; and 4) decriminalization.

On the occasion of World Homelessness Day, UN-Habitat hosted the Housing and Social Protection for all to End Homelessness Roundtable. The virtual event, jointly organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and UN-Habitat, brought together high-level technical experts — our Advisory Committee Chair, Dame Louise Casey; Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Inclusive Social Development of UN DESA;  Christina Behrendt, Head of ILO’s Social Policy Unit, Social Protection Department; Freek Spinnewijn, Director, European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA); Liz Madden, Expert of lived experience of homelessness; and Iris Bailey, Expert of lived experience of homelessness, to discuss the renewed urgency of addressing homelessness within the context of a COVID-19 new normal. Read the World Homelessness Day 2020: Housing And Social Protection At The Core Of Homelessness Prevention Strategies here.

Indigenous Peoples Day is observed each year on the 12th of October. The Homeless Hub describes Indigenous homelessness as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, families/communities experiencing a lack of stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate means to acquire such housing. Indigenous homelessness is more fully described and understood to encompass Indigenous worldviews, including isolation from their relationships to land, animals, cultures, languages, identities, etc. Métis scholar and author of Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada, Jesse Thistle,and international leader in indigenous health, Janet Smylie’s 2020 article Pekiwewin (Coming Home): Advancing Good Relations with Indigenous People Experiencing Homelessness outlines clinical guidelines for health and social service providers seeking to build relationships with Indigenous Peoples experiencing homelessness. Making the Shift’s In Conversation webinar series recently welcomed Thistle as its first guess for Jesse Thistle on Indigenous Homelessness in Canada and the role of lived experience in research.

World Statistics Day is an annual, global collaborative endeavour, organized under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission on the 20th of October. The 2020 theme — Connecting the World With Data We Can Trust, reflected on the importance of trust, authoritative data, innovation, and the public good in national statistical systems.

Learn more about how you can help IGH end global homelessness.