IGH Online Community of Impact

A community of impact (CoI) is a group of people who work towards a shared passion or cause, and learn how to do the work better through interacting and sharing knowledge. IGH aims to create an online CoI for professionals working with people experiencing homelessness.

The IGH CoI connects members to a collaborative and dynamic global network of knowledge of what works in ending homelessness. Our webinar series provides CoI members with a unique learning opportunity to engage with homeless experts on a curated list of topics.

Resources and videos from the CoI series can be accessed below.

Latest Webinar

Homelessness, Equity and Inclusion

Recordings and Resources from Previous Community of Impact Webinars

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 a 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, Stephanie 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.

Our most recent event for the IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series highlighted the importance of partnering with people of lived experience. We were honored to have such impactful and powerful speakers and moderators for the webinar.

Moderator: Rob RobinsonPartners in Dignity and Rights


— Alicia Vázquez SilveraColectivo Ni Todo Esta Perdido

— Big Al ConnollyKommuniti

— James KoshibaHui Aloha

— Lindsay PachecoKa Po`e O Kaka`ako

Partnering with people with lived experience of homelessness is critical to having a comprehensive homelessness response and leads to more inclusive programs and better outcomes for all clients. Therefore, centering the voices of experts by experience is important at every level of homeless programs: in leadership roles, hiring, advisory, and research.  People with lived experience are uniquely positioned to provide important insights on homelessness interventions including identifying shortcomings in programs, improving homelessness systems, and developing more equitable and effective programs. Additionally, these individuals can provide invaluable assistance in peer support roles and help similarly situated individuals overcome homelessness in various ways.

Partnering with people of lived experience goes beyond merely paternalistic or tokenistic measures that only superficially take them into account. Rather, this approach requires substantive involvement and providing individuals with lived experience with opportunities for participation as equals in the process of solving the problems that affect them. Read more in the latest blog from the Community of Impact.

“Changing narratives and creating solutions to homelessness requires people with lived experience to be at the CENTER of the conversation, leading — not just at the table.”

— James Koshiba, Hui Aloha

Webinar YouTube Link

Resources on Partnering with People of Lived Experience

  • City of Baltimore, Maryland - Lived Experience Advisory Council

    Lived Experience Advisory Councils are groups of people with lived experience of a certain situation who are convened to give input on how to address issues relevant to that situation. Because of their lived experience, these individuals often possess expertise and insights that others do not, thus making them adept at identifying systemic shortcomings and opportunities for improvement. The City of Baltimore, Maryland (U.S.) has a formal Lived Experience Advisory Council (LEAC) that is involved in several aspects of their Continuum of Care (CoC), the federal program tasked with addressing homelessness in U.S. communities. Members of Baltimore’s LEAC sit on CoC committees that are responsible for making decisions about funding and system-wide policies. Among other activities, Baltimore LEAC members have influenced shelter policy reform, advised on best practices for engaging people with lived experience of homelessness, and served as members of the CoC Executive Committee. Additionally, six of Baltimore’s CoC Board seats are reserved for people with lived experience of homelessness.

  • Oakland-Berkley-Alameda County Continuum of Care - Centering Racial Equity in Homeless System Design

    Following significant increases in homelessness between 2017 and 2019, Almeda County, California took steps to restructure its homelessness system and address inequities plaguing the system that were disproportionately impacting African Americans and Native Americans. The input of people who were currently homeless or had experienced homelessness previously was critical to the county’s efforts to identify the factors contributing to these increases and inequities. A Racial Equity Impact Analysis team convened several focus groups composed of people with lived experience of homelessness to discuss topics such as their experience with homelessness, barriers to housing, and housing interventions. The data from these focus group conversations were subsequently used to inform recommendations for homelessness system design improvements.

  • Canadian Housing First Toolkit - Hiring Staff and Involving People with Lived Experience

    The Canadian Housing First Toolkit recommends that peer specialists with lived experience of homelessness be hired in various roles in Housing First programs. In a Housing First program context, peer specialists can play a critical role in helping program participants adjust to the program, navigate their recovery, and integrate into the community. Further, these peer specialists can act as intermediaries between program participants and other team members.

  • Homeless Link (UK) - Co-Production Toolkit

    Homeless Link (UK) describes co-production as occurring when those who both use and administer services and programs are collaboratively involved in designing them. Co-production goes beyond merely tokenistic measures such as soliciting feedback or suggestions and requires power-sharing and understanding all involved parties as equals. This toolkit features guidance for those looking to introduce the principles of co-production into their homelessness services and programs.

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 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.  Read the full blog on the launch event here. Speakers included:

  • Abe Oudshoorn, Western University, Managing Editor of the IJOH
  • Sarah Canham, The University of Utah
  • Jill Veenendaal, Western University
  • Thomas Evans, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social, Universidad de la República
  • Peter Mackie, Cardiff University, IJOH Editor-in-Chief, Europe
  • Nick Kerman, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

As the evidence base for Housing First’s effectiveness has grown, the model has proliferated throughout the world. With its expansion, Housing First has been adapted to suit diverse socioeconomic and cultural contexts. 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

Read the full blog about the Community of Impact Webinar here.

IGH Community of Impact: Housing First in International Contexts

International Housing First Research and Programs:

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 sought to investigate 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

Read the full blog about the Community of Impact Webinar here.

IGH Community of Impact: Homeless Prevention Strategies

Resources from Speakers:

Research and Programs That Were Featured in the Webinar:

  • Evolving an evidence‐based model for homelessness prevention

    The full paper can be accessed here. 


    While some progress has been made in addressing chronic homelessness through supportive models, a comprehensive solution for housing loss must include prevention. The purpose of this article is twofold: to conduct a review of the literature on the domains of the Framework for Homelessness Prevention; and to use literature on the concept of quaternary prevention, preventing the harms of service provision, to theorise an additional domain. The Framework for Homelessness Prevention draws upon theory from public health exploring primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, and also integrates primordial prevention. This leads to a typology of homelessness prevention that incorporates the following five domains: (a) Structural prevention; (b) Systems prevention; (c) Early intervention; (d) Eviction prevention; and (e) Housing stability. By systematically reviewing the literature we build out the evidence‐base supporting these domains. The team used research databases, internet searches and retrospective reference list reviews to identify high‐quality journal articles on prevention, which were then sorted by level of prevention. Through this process, we evolved our thinking on the Framework in considering that quaternary prevention was not initially included. Therefore, we explored the literature related to quaternary prevention in the context of homelessness and offer a sixth domain for the Framework: Empowerment. Ultimately, a comprehensive Framework for Homelessness Prevention will support communities and governments to more effectively prevent homelessness through upstream approaches.
  • Does emergency financial assistance reduce crime?

    Read the full paper here.


    Does emergency financial assistance reduce criminal behavior among those experiencing negative shocks? To address this question, we exploit quasi-random variation in the allocation of temporary financial assistance to eligible individuals and families that have experienced an economic shock. Chicago’s Homelessness Prevention Call Center (HPCC) connects such families and individuals with assistance, but the availability of funding varies unpredictably. Consequently, we can determine the impact of temporary assistance on crime by comparing outcomes for those who call when funds are available to those who call when no funds are available. Linking this call center information to arrest records from the Chicago Police Department, we find some evidence that total arrests fall between 1 and 2 years after the call. For violent crime, police arrest those for whom funds were available 51% less often than those who were eligible but for whom no funds were available. Single individuals drive this decrease. The decline in crime appears to be related, in part, to greater housing stability—being referred to assistance significantly decreases arrests for homelessness-related, outdoor crimes such as trespassing. However, we also find that financial assistance leads to an increase in property crime arrests. This increase is evident for family heads, but not single individuals; the increase is mostly due to shoplifting; and the timing of this increase suggests that financial assistance enables some families to take on financial obligations that they are subsequently unable to meet. Overall, the change in the mix of crime induced by financial assistance generates considerable social benefits due to the greater social cost of violence

  • The Geelong Project – Interim Report

    The Geelong Project – Interim Report has revealed it is producing unprecedented results in preventing ‘at-risk’ young students from becoming homeless, disengaging in their education and leaving school early. The first three years of The Geelong Project led by Barwon Child, Youth & Family, has seen a 40% reduction in the number of homeless young students in Geelong, a 20% reduction in early school leaving and a 50% reduction in the level of school disengagement* by at risk students in the pilot schools. This has been as a result of the introduction of a collaborative early intervention approach.

    Go to the Geelong Project’s Website.

Prevention Literature Reviews and Typologies:

  • Homelessness Prevention: A Review of the Literature

    Resource can be accessed here. 

    Shinn and Cohen provide an overview of homelessness prevention strategies and review the current state of knowledge on the subject. Factors that predict homelessness are discussed in addition to the evidence-based interventions that have thus far proven effective at preventing homelessness such as permanent deep rental housing subsidies, eviction prevention services, and community-based services targeted at assisting those at risk of becoming homeless. Also addressed are current gaps in the research that would be helpful to address, such as improving efficiency and effectiveness of prevention programs as well as better understanding who experiences homelessness and how their needs can be best addressed.

  • Preventing youth homelessness - An international review of evidence

    The resource can be accessed here. 

    In the context of a global shift towards prevention, this international review identifies evidence-based interventions, promising practices, youth-identified prevention priorities, and intersecting policy elements contributing to the prevention of youth homelessness.

    The report draws upon a careful assessment of this evidence base to develop a set of recommendations to effectively divert young people from experiences of homelessness.

  • A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention

    The resource and explanatory videos can be accessed here.

    The aim of the framework is to begin a conversation in Canada on what prevention looks like, and what it will take to shift toward homelessness prevention. Using international examples, the framework operationalizes the policies and practices necessary to successfully prevent homelessness and highlights who is responsible.

    In Turning Off the Tap: A Typology for Homelessness Prevention, Dej, Gaetz, and Schwan seek to establish a definition and typology for homelessness prevention in order to clarify the thinking around homelessness prevention. The authors define homelessness prevention as actions taken to reduce the likelihood of a person experiencing homelessness, focusing on a housing-led approach that also includes providing supports and services to ensure that housing is secure once established. The authors argue for a five dimensional typology of homelessness prevention – structural prevention, systems prevention, early intervention, evictions prevention, and housing stability. The proposed typology for homelessness prevention is intended to draw attention to the multi-sectoral strategies needed to comprehensively address homelessness and facilitate a move away from reliance on crisis-based responses to homelessness.


International Prevention Research and Programs:

  • Predicting and Preventing Homelessness in Los Angeles

    Read the full paper here. 

    The California Policy Lab and the University of Chicago Poverty Lab have used County data on multi-system service use to predict homelessness among single adults receiving mainstream County services. By identifying people at high risk of first-time homelessness or returns to homelessness and understanding risk factors associated with future homelessness, the County can more effectively target its homelessness prevention efforts to ensure limited resources are going to those most likely to benefit from them.

  • Homelessness prevention in Newcastle: Examining the role of the ‘local state’ in the context of austerity and welfare reforms

    The full paper can be accessed here. 

    This report examines how Newcastle’s ‘local state’ (the city council and relevant partners) are preventing homelessness in the context of local government funding cuts and welfare reforms, and how the approaches might be improved. The mixed-methods study has quantitatively compared Newcastle with other core cities using key administrative and survey-based data sources, and employed qualitative interviews and focus groups with expert local stakeholders, frontline workers, and residents with experience of homelessness or homelessness risk.

IGH launched our Community of Impact (CoI) to connect leaders and practitioners to a collaborative and dynamic global network of knowledge of what works in ending homelessness. COVID-19 has represented an enormous challenge as the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations especially people experiencing homelessness.

In our first Community of Impact Webinar, we were honored to have three speakers who discussed how data and coordinated responses allowed their communities to adopt quickly and effectively to COVID-19  in order to protect and house people experiencing homelessness. The three speakers were:

  • Jeremy Swain, UK Advisor for the United Kingdom Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Dr. Surashree Shome, Senior Manager at Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives
  • Molly Seeley, Special Projects Manager for the Institute of Global Homelessness

The video of the webinar can be found here. From Great Britain to Bengaluru, India, the speakers’ presentations had common themes in their presentations:

  • Strong leadership with multi-sector coordination including the formation of taskforces resulted in improved communication, collaborative action, and led to better outcomes, and 
  • disaggregated data allowed leaders to better understand the scope of the impact and design new initiatives that are more inclusive and better targeted to specific populations.

Read the complete blog post here.

IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series

Resources from Speakers:

Resources on Collective Impact:

  • Scotland’s Everyone Home Scotland Collective on COVID-19

    Everyone Home Scotland Collective on COVID-19 comprises over 20 groups working together to highlight the urgent need to secure housing for individuals experiencing homelessness that has been underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeking to protect and build upon gains achieved thus far, they released a plan for addressing homelessness post-pandemic that emphasizes increasing the social housing stock; preventing a return to pre-pandemic rough-sleeping levels; and eviction reform. 

    Link: Everyone Home Scotland Collective on COVID-19 Recovery Plan

  • Houston, United States’s Community-wide COVID-19 Housing Program (CCHP)

    The CCHP is a collaborative effort launched by the City of Houston, Harris County (TX), and the Coalition for the Homeless, the goal of which is to house 5,000 people experiencing homeless over the next two years. The $65 million plan will be targeted toward limiting the spread of COVID-19, housing people experiencing homelessness, and assisting people who may become homeless due to the economic effects of the virus. Interventions will include financial assistance to help people avoid shelters, rapid rehousing support, and assistance for people waiting for permanent supportive housing to become available.

    Link: Coalition for the Homeless CCHP Overview

  • 500 Lives 500 Homes

    Based in Brisbane, Australia, this campaign was the result of a partnership between 34 government and non-government organizations working in various social sectors who surpassed their goal of housing 500 households in a three-year period. Their data-driven, housing-first approach included compiling personalized data on each individual to be housed; assessment of individual needs using the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritisation Tool (VI-SPDAT); and providing support to individuals who needed it to maintain a stable residence.

    Links: 500 Lives 500 Homes Impact Statement 2014-2017

    Housing First: A roadmap to ending homelessness in Brisbane

  • A Way Home Canada

    A Way Home Canada is a collective impact group focused on ending youth homelessness. One of the cornerstones of their approach is pursuing change by way of data- and evidence-based innovation. Their work is informed by their affiliated Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Innovation Lab whose research agenda entails “leveraging data and technology to drive policy and practice.” They also assisted in the development of the Youth Assessment and Prioritization (YAP) Tool for intake purposes, which allows homelessness service providers to determine the best approach for case management.

    Links: Making the Shift Youth Homeless Innovation Lab

    A Way Home – Our Approach

Resources on Data:

  • United States: Community-level COVID-19 Homelessness Planning & Response Dashboard

    Researchers Dennis Culhane, Dan Treglia, Ken Steif, and Tom Byrne developed a COVID-19 homelessness planning and response dashboard to estimate the impact COVID-19 might have on communities. Their dashboard allows communities to estimate the size of their adult homeless population, the number of projected cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and necessary emergency capacity needed to accommodate their homeless population.

    Link: Community-level COVID-19 Homelessness Planning & Response Dashboard

  • United Kingdom: Centre for Homelessness Impact COVID-19 Index

    The COVID-19 Homelessness Index was developed by the Centre for Homelessness Impact to help better understand the risk exposure faced by people experiencing homelessness in England. The index was created by using public health data on confirmed COVID-19 cases and information on the number of people living in temporary accommodation to identify the risk to those experiencing homelessness and also helping decision-makers to better allocate resources to areas with high need. 

    Link: Centre for Homelessness Impact COVID-19 Index

  • United States: Health Care for the Homeless Comparative Data COVID-19 Dashboard

    The National Health Care for the Homeless Council has developed a comparative data dashboard to demonstrate the effects of COVID-19 on health centers that provide services to people experiencing homelessness. Data from the Health Resources and Services Administration is used to visualize data related to COVID-19 testing in both staff and patients, clinic closures, and racial disparities. 

    Link: Health Care for the Homeless Comparative Data COVID-19 Dashboard

IGH Community of Impact: Homelessness, Equity and Inclusion