Research, reflection, data, measurement are not seen as glamorous pursuits when tackling poverty or its accompanying challenge - homelessness. Unless it's in the hands of Stephen Gaetz, Associate Dean of Education and Director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, York University.
I met Stephen at a North-South conference on Homelessness and Living a Good Life, a few years ago. I was impressed. His passion is palpable - getting research into the hands of policy makers and practitioners to end homelessness. Even though we were in Italy I watched him scour the latest from around the world and flip it for circulation into the Hub he helped create.
Launched in 2007, the Homeless Hub is an attractive web-based research library and information centre that uses the latest social media technology to enhance knowledge mobilization and networking.
And they aren't stuck stuck on classic research or academic reports. The Homeless Hub supports a Gallery - using film, theatre, music, photography and visual art - so that Canadians in all walks of life can engage in public discussions about homelessness, its causes and potential solutions, and with the best information at their disposal.
The production values of this site are as compelling as the content. Check them out. You'll see more about what's going on to wrestle homelessness to the ground than you ever imagined, not only in Canada but around the world. It's a treasure chest of practical solutions, policy, inspiration and of course research. For example:
- The Housing and Harm Reduction Policy Framework for Victoria;
- A Home For Everyone: A Housing Action Plan for Whitehorse;
- Making a Living in Calgary - informal employment;
- a Homelessness curriculum;
- a Registry for researchers studying homelessness;
- A brand new report by the Salvation Army:The Dignity Project: Debunking Myths About Poverty in Canada;
- Free E-Book entitled, Finding home: Policy Options for Addressing Homelessness in Canada
- Experiences: stories and voices seldom heard - individuals and families experiencing homelessness
To whet your appetite even further here's the latest FaceBook post from the Homelessness Hub excerpted from an Edmonton Journal story:
At age seven, hands freezing, she had to beg one set of foster parents for a pair of gloves.
She was barely in her teens when she took her first hit off a crack pipe. By then, she'd been through a bunch of foster homes and had run away from many. Drugs were just another way to escape.
Soon, she was living in motel rooms and selling drugs to support her own habit. By age 15 she'd tried twice to kill herself with overdoses. At 16, she became a single mom.
Two years later, heartbroken and seemingly out of options, she made the toughest decision of her life and gave up her daughter for adoption.
To say that Roseann Duperron has come a long way since then would be like saying the Jupiter Symphony is a long way from Jingle Bells.
Now 24, Duperron is an award-winning student at NorQuest College and is helping spearhead a $1-million endowment fund to help fellow students facing challenges in their own lives.
-read the full story by Edmonton Journal reporter Nick Lees
This is the sixh in a series on poverty. Click Poverty to access the others.