IGH Community of Impact Webinar Series
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
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.
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).
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.).
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 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.