The Homeless Hub is a web-based research library and information centre representing an innovative step forward in the use of technology to enhance knowledge mobilization and networking.
Building on the success of the Canadian Conference on Homelessness (2005), the Homeless Hub was created to address the need for a single place to find homelessness information from across Canada. This project began with an understanding that different stakeholders (in government, academia and the social services sector) are likely to think about and utilize research in different ways. As such, the website was built with different stakeholders in mind.
When it was originally launched in 2007, the Hub had approximately 500 resources, a simple search engine and some original Homeless Hub content (our Topics section mostly). After a few years of experience, in addition to user feedback and usability testing, we decided to redesign the site to better meet the needs of our varied users.
In 2014, we re-launched and continue to be a place where services providers, researchers, government representatives, students, and the general public can access and share research, stories, and best practices. We now have over 30,000 resources, an advanced search feature, dozens of curated sections, as well as a ton of original content, including:
- The Canadian Definition of Homelessness and typology, intended to improve understanding, measurement and responses to homelessness in Canada by providing a common ‘language’ for addressing this complex problem;
- A framework and toolkit reflecting on the possibilities of adapting and improving on the Foyer model for Canada;
- The first book to examine how Housing First has been applied in Canada;
- A book comprised of the best Canadian research and policy analysis to better inform the efforts of those working to address youth homelessness;
- The first extensive Canadian report card on homelessness, done in partnership with the CAEH.
- A Housing First framework adapted to the needs of youth who experience, or are at risk of, homelessness;
- A report that documents the criminalization of homelessness in Toronto by exploring the relationship between homeless persons – in particular, street youth - and law enforcement officials.
- Solutions-focused content that highlight evidence-based interventions and initiatives that can contribute to ending homelessness.
What sets us apart from other online libraries or databases is our approach to the material. Our MO is to make research more accessible (both easy to obtain, and easy to understand); to take evidence-based research, present it in clear language and with practical applications and recommendations.
We take a layered approach to knowledge mobilization by trying to create as many different points of entry into our work as possible. For example, when we create a report or book, we also produce (where relevant) both an executive summary and a two-page clear language research summary. Often we prepare infographics, podcasts or videos for the launch/release of a report or book. For some of our releases, we organize a webinar and/or in-person event. We also write at least one blog post for our Research Matters blog and prepare a newsletter for the day of release. In addition, we develop a full social media strategy that includes prepared tweets and hashtags (for Twitter) and Facebook posts and photos.
We believe that research can and should contribute to solutions to homelessness. Thanks to the Homeless Hub this is becoming more and more commonplace.
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, is the steward of the Homeless Hub.
Stephen Gaetz, York University
Director of Operations
Allyson Marsolais, York University
Jesse Donaldson, York University
Director of Evaluation
John Ecker, York University
Stephanie Vasko, York University
Oxana Roudenko, York University
Julienne Bay, York University
Dylan Ostetto, York University
Susan Atkinson, York University