Understanding Youth Homelessness: A National Youth Homelessness Survey

The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (the Homeless Hub), working with the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness and with funding support from the Home Depot Canada Foundation, is planning a national youth homelessness survey to be administered in October 2015, the first of its kind ever conducted in Canada.  While a number of local area studies have been conducted in cities across Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Calgary, etc.) most of these have been in larger cities and have used differing methodologies. This new endeavour involves developing a unique methodology that will enable local service providers, in major municipalities, small towns, and rural areas, to implement the youth survey with young people in their community.

The Home Depot Canada Foundation logo

National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness logo

We are asking agencies to indicate their interest in participating. Please reply to a short survey (available at http://goo.gl/forms/xkM3cHIe19) to indicate your agency's interest. We ask if you could reply by July 6.

While we fully intend this to be a rigorous, scientific study, this will not simply be ‘research for research sake’. Our goal is to produce results that will contribute to a national dialogue on youth homelessness, to influence policy, and to give communities information they need to develop more effective responses to youth homelessness. We want to develop a better understanding of the causes and conditions of youth homelessness in order to feed into more effective plans, strategies, and interventions designed to prevent, reduce, and end youth homelessness. Good information should be the foundation of any effective planning and implementation strategy.

A brief second survey is also part of this project. We ask that each agency participate in a short survey in order to gain a national understanding of what resources are most used and what needs of youth are most pressing. This information will enhance the communications produced from the survey results and ultimately influence policy making, service provision, and advocacy.

How it works

The survey will take place over a week in October 2015. It will be available in both French and English. We ask that each agency identify one or two staff to be survey leads – promoting the survey in advance, administering the survey, answering questions, helping participants who need someone to read the survey to them, collecting the surveys, distributing the incentive upon completion, and returning completed surveys to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. A webinar for survey leads will provide instruction relating to survey administration from start to finish. Data will be summarized centrally on a national scale and individual data segments will be distributed to community agencies. You will also benefit from a communications strategy that includes templates that can be modified and distributed locally.

Assessing agency interest

We have funding to administer 1,000 surveys (each participant will be given $10 in cash or gift-card for participating). We need to identify the scale of interest nationally so that we can source additional funding to increase the number of participants. Without additional funding, we expect that agency interest in participating will be greater than what our current resources allow. We are seeking responses from agencies across the country regarding your interest and ability to participate and if so, ask how many youth you estimate will complete the survey at your location.

To express your interest in participating, please click on the url below or copy and paste it into your browser: http://goo.gl/forms/xkM3cHIe19

Advantages of participating

Overall, the advantages relate to the local planning process (to better respond to the causes and conditions of youth homelessness in your community) and to mobilizing community action on youth homelessness, particularly in areas where there may be a perception that youth homelessness is not a real problem.

While the project does not budget for centralized report generation, data will be co-owned between agencies and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

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Media Folder: 

   Compare your data with the national data set

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Media Folder: 

   Add agency specific questions to the survey tool

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Media Folder: 

  Run your own data analysis reports

Canadian Observatory on Homelessness logo


Claire Major
Research Associate,
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness

Publication Date: