Ask the Hub - What's new on the Homeless Hub?
Check this out! The Homeless Hub has had a make-over. We have spent the last several years getting ready for this, and this week we finally launch the new site. The Hub now has a cleaner look, and is easier to navigate. But the make-over is more than cosmetic – a key reason we went down this road is to make it much more useful and relevant to our audiences.
You see, when we set up the Homeless Hub, our goal was to ‘make research matter’, by giving students, researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the general public access to a broad range of homelessness research. We wanted to help ensure that research and evidence had a bigger impact on policy, practice and public opinion. We also wanted to reduce barriers to this knowledge, so that most of what we produce and distribute is open access and free! Go ahead – take it.
Since we first launched the site four years ago, our audience has grown exponentially. For instance, last year the number of people who visited our site grew by almost 100%. We have learned a lot since we began. We have worked collaboratively with service providers, government officials and people who have experienced homelessness to develop research content that is relevant to their needs. We have developed approaches to communications and marketing to ensure that the content is accessible and useable. We have also come to realize that there are some areas that we need to do more.
The new Hub helps address some of these issues with new features.
- Solutions Section - Here we have added a large number of resources to allow communities, planners, and governments to effectively address homelessness. You can find everything here, from plans to end homelessness, to systems approaches, prevention strategies, housing solutions (including Housing First), and a whole range of other topics. We even have a Human Resources section that contains job descriptions from the community for every imaginable job position. Each section and sub-section has a short introduction to summarize the information for you, and is followed with links to useful resources
- Community Profiles – This new and improved section contains an interactive map of Canada. For every province and community (the communities are organized according to the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy community entities) there are basic demographic facts, plus a list of resources, including community planning documents. As we move forward, we hope to populate each community with research relevant to their work.
- Homelessness – Through our evaluation, we found that many people come to the Hub in search of basic information about homelessness. Whether community members, students or the news media, its important that we provide solid information about homelessness, so this section offers a basic “Homelessness 101”
- Blog – Blogging is now becoming a recognized way to engage a broad audience on crucial issues. Our business is mobilizing homelessness research so that it has a bigger impact on solutions to homelessness, so the blogs we produce are built upon a strong foundation of research. We produce these weekly, so explore, and feel free to share.
In addition to these new features, we also worked to improve our existing sections, such as the Library, Education (resources for teachers and students), the Gallery (arts based research and productions). The website was rebuilt from the ground up, and part of this means we have a much better user interface (to use computer nerd speak) and a more robust search engine.
Soooo, check it out, explore the site, and let us know what you think. If you haven’t already, sign up to our weekly newsletter, and receive the latest research news on homelessness.
This post is part of our Friday "Ask the Hub" blog series. Have a homeless-related question you want answered? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide a research-based answer.
Stephen Gaetz is a Professor in the Faculty of Education and is the Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Homeless Hub. He is also President of Raising the Roof, a leading Canadian charity that focuses on long term solutions to homelessness.
Dr. Gaetz is committed to a research agenda that foregrounds social justice and attempts to make research on homelessness relevant to policy and program development. His research on homeless youth has focused on their economic strategies, health, education and legal and justice issues, and more recently, he has focused his attention on policy and in particular the Canadian Response to homelessness. He has recently edited two volumes on homelessness in Canada, including: Housing First in Canada – Supporting Communities to End Homelessness. (2013) and Youth homelessness in Canada: Implications for policy and practice (2013). In addition, he has published a book on community-based responses to youth problems in Ireland and written numerous reports and articles published in a wide range of peer reviewed journals. Dr. Gaetz was Associate Dean of Research and Professional Development in the Faculty of Education Prior to his time at York University, Dr. Gaetz worked in the Community Health Sector, both at Shout Clinic (a health clinic for street youth in Toronto) and Queen West Community Health Centre in Toronto.
Dr. Gaetz has played a leading international role in knowledge dissemination in the area of homelessness. York played host to 2005’s Canadian Conference on Homelessness – the first research conference of its kind in Canada. In addition, York University now hosts the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Homeless Hub the first comprehensive and cross-disciplinary web-based clearinghouse of homelessness research in the world. The focus of this network is to work with researchers across Canada to mobilize research so that it has a greater impact on homelessness policy and planning. Through the CHRN Dr. Gaetz is publishing policy relevant research, including two recent reports on youth homelessness: A Safe and Decent Place to Live: Towards a Housing First Framework for Youth. (2014) and Coming of Age: Reimagining our Response to Youth Homelessness in Canada. (2014), as well as The Canadian Definition of Homelessness (2012), The Real Cost of Homelessness. Can we save money by doing the right thing? (2012), Can I See Your ID? The Policing of Homeless Youth in Toronto (2011), and Family Matters: Homeless youth and Eva’s Initiatives “Family Reconnect” Program. (2011).
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The analysis and interpretations contained in the blog posts are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.