Covid-19 Targeted Call Funded Projects

For many young people at risk of, or who are experiencing homelessness, COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on their lives. The service environments as well as public and private spaces that young people may access can increase their risk of contracting Coronavirus.  Additionally, the pandemic may have a negative impact on the health and well-being of such youth, and their access to necessary services and supports. For young people, whose experience of homelessness differs from that of adults, it is important that solutions to youth homelessness be designed to meet the needs of developing adolescents and young adults.  The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted for many the need to move away from a response focusing on emergency services, to one that prioritizes prevention and sustainable exits from homelessness. 

In June 2020, Making the Shift awarded $230,000 to 6 innovative and original research projects that address the implications of COVID-19 on youth homelessness. A common objective among all 6 projects is to enhance our understanding of how to provide better supports to young people who are precariously housed, at risk of homelessness and those experiencing homelessness.  

The projects were recommended to the Board for funding by the MtS Research Management Committee, which is composed of Canadian and international researchers, policymakers, service providers and people with lived experience of youth homelessness.  

The funded projects will generate knowledge that informs our current response to the pandemic, the recovery phase, and the future of our response to youth homelessness, and in particular, the necessity of making the shift to prevention.  

The funded projects include 6 principal investigators (including 5 new to MtS) from 4 universities and 1 institution across Canada. They bring together a diverse selection of community partners. MtS awards were leveraged with more than $87,000 in-kind contributions from academic and community partners.

List of 2020 COVID-19 Funded Projects in Alphabetical Order

The Impacts Of COVID-19 On LGBTQ2S Youth At-Risk Of, And Experiencing, Homelessness

Dr. Alex Abramovich, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Project summary
COVID-19 related challenges for LGBTQ2S homeless youth remain unknown. This study engages a group of LGBTQ2S youth a) at-risk of, and b) experiencing homelessness to understand their specific challenges, coping strategies, and mental health responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommendations will be produced for the development and improvement of programs and targeted responses aimed at preventing and addressing LGBTQ2S youth homelessness during the pandemic.


Understanding Young Women’s Experiences of Loneliness and Isolation During Covid-19 and Beyond: Participatory Research to Envision a Way Forward

Dr. Erin Dej, Assistant Professor, Criminology, Wilfred Laurier

Project summary
To prevent youth homelessness, it is crucial that we address the unique needs of housing-insecure young women. This research explores how loneliness and isolation that occurs before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic impacts young women-identifying people’s housing stabilization. Objectives: Determine changes in service provision and the role of informal support in managing isolation during the pandemic to make recommendations on how these integral supports can be formalized. Likewise, develop and implement peer-designed and peer-led workshops to determine recommendations and actionable items to improve the conditions for housing insecure young women.


Establishing and Mitigating Youth Housing Stability in Response to COVID-19: Engaging with the BC Interior

Dr. John Graham, Professor and Director, Social Work, University of British Columbia

Project summary
This project will review youth homelessness services in the lead up to and during COVID-19, as well as the subjective experiences of youth at risk of homelessness during this time. Both aspects will be used together to inform planning for a potential second wave, as well as planning for the recovery period following COVID-19 and planning for future public health emergencies. A central question is: How did the new Youth Coordinated Access Table adapt considering COVID-19?


Opportunities for Innovation: Indigenous Youth Coping With Homelessness During the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Kenora Region

Dr. Joanna Henderson, Director, Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Daphne Armstrong, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Kenora Chiefs Advisory

Project summary
This research project will centre Indigenous youth voices in describing unique challenges and coping in the Kenora region of Northwestern Ontario when it comes to homelessness amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the outcomes, the project seeks to analyze Indigenous youth feedback about health and well-being impacts related to service delivery modifications and/or disruptions as a result of a pandemic.


Responding to Youth Homelessness in the Midst of a Pandemic: Shifting to Collaborative, Prevention-based Services in a Large Urban Setting

Dr. Amanda Noble, University of Toronto, Manager of Research and Evaluation at Covenant House

Project summary
The objective of this study is to understand the impact of COVID-19 on youth experiencing homelessness in Toronto’s downtown shelter system, including among youth that moved to a hotel and those that remained in shelter, and to identify recommendations to permanently shift towards a prevention-based response to youth homelessness. Recommendations to permanently shift towards a prevention-based response will be developed, both in anticipation of a second wave of COVID-19 and as a response to youth homelessness in general.  


First Nations Interventions   

Dr. Alex Wilson, Professor with the Department of Educational Foundations and the Academic Director of the Aboriginal Education Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan

Project summary
This project addresses the following questions: How are First Nations youth at risk of or with lived experience of homelessness affected by and negotiating the Covid-19 pandemic (including access to supports, services and resources that help stabilize housing trajectories)? How can schools, organizations and communities continue to provide land-based learning and cultural programming to First Nations youth during the Covid-19 pandemic?  


2019 MtS Funded Projects

Shortly after its launch in 2019, MtS kicked off its research strategy with a call for Expressions of Interest (EoI). Out of 69 initial applications, 21 were invited to submit a full proposal in September 2019. In December 2019, the MtS Board of Directors approved 8 proposals with a total funding envelope of $2,999,616.20. The recommendation for the funded projects came from the Research Management Committee, comprised of Canadian and international researchers, policymakers, people with lived experience of youth homelessness, and service providers. The funded projects  include 8 principal investigators from 6 universities as well as two institutions and bring together a diverse selection of community partners. MtS awards were leveraged with more than $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions from academic and community partners. 

The awarded projects share a common goal: to transform how we respond to youth homelessness through research and knowledge mobilization specific to youth homelessness prevention and housing stabilization.

Funding decisions were based on the proposal’s scientific excellence, their level of innovation, quality of partnerships and alignment with MtS’ vision and priority themes. As such, the funded projects align with the first four themes of the MtS research theme areas.

The funded projects showcase the power of collaboration between academic and non-academic partners in identifying innovative, impactful and comprehensive solutions. The projects will help position Canada as the world leader in research regarding effective solutions to youth homelessness in order to transform practice, policy, and systems planning that will create better outcomes for young people.

List of 2019 Funded Projects in Alphabetical Order

Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address – Youth (NFA-Y)

Cheryl Forchuk, Lawson Health Research Institute

Project summary
Building upon several successful initiatives, this project will make housing and financial resources more accessible to youth admitted to inpatient wards at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London – Parkwood Institute Mental Health. It creates much-needed knowledge regarding ways for preventing youth from being discharged into homelessness.

CA$397,798.00 over 4 years

Project details

On the Move: A Mixed Methods Study of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Homelessness and Migration in Northeastern Ontario

Carol Kauppi, Laurentian University

Project summary
The project will leverage data by analyzing a database on 512 youth in urban, rural and remote communities of northeastern Ontario to generate new knowledge about appropriate strategies for detecting risk, intervening early, and supporting sustainable exits from homelessness amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.

CA$285,336.00 over 3 years

Project details

A National Study of Tertiary Prevention Models for Youth Exiting Homelessness

Sean Kidd, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Project summary
The project will identify the service models of the most promising housing stabilization approaches while accounting for the diversity of youth experiencing homelessness. It will also use a rigorous knowledge exchange strategy to build capacity in the sector.

CA$254,570.00 over 3 years

Project details

Examining the effectiveness of an integrated housing, mental health and addiction service model for youth experiencing homelessness

Maritt Kirst, Wilfrid Laurier University

Project summary
This project tests the effectiveness of an integrated intervention (Housing First for Youth) tailored to better meet the housing, mental health and addiction service needs of youth experiencing homelessness and concurrent disorders (CDs). This project builds on the existing Making the Shift Housing First for Youth demonstration projects.

$545,895.00 over 4 years

Project details

The Upstream Project Canada: Lessons from demonstration sites and implications for scaling

Rachel Laforest, Queen’s University

Project summary
This social innovation (originating in Australia) takes on a cross-sector collaboration approach to identifying and supporting students at-risk of homelessness and school disengagement. Lessons from the demonstration sites will inform model development to bring it to scale in Canada as part of the Making the Shift Demonstration Lab.

CA$107,468.00 over 2 years

Project details

Youth Transition from Child Welfare to Precarious Living Conditions: A Mixed Methods Longitudinal Study of Risk and Protective Factors in Nova Scotia

Michael Ungar, Dalhousie University

Project summary
The project follows a large cohort of young people through the transition from Child Welfare Services to identify the psychological, institutional, social, educational and political/policy aspects of young people’s lives that put them at risk of homelessness and those that enhance their resilience.

CA$792,290.00 over 5 years

Project details

Ai’aoskiikowaata (providing guidance to youth): Supporting healthy transitions from government care to independent living

Janice Victor, University of Lethbridge

Project summary
Through investigating youths’ experiences of transitioning out of government care in three southern Alberta locations, this project will inform legislators and knowledge users about the protective factors associated with culturally-appropriate resources as well as prevention and support strategies for Indigenous youth.

CA$85,579.20 over 3 years

Project details

One House Many Nations: A community first approach to address homelessness amongst First Nation youth

Alex Wilson, University of Saskatchewan

Project summary
This project brings together Indigenous youth living on-reserve with lived experiences or those at risk of homelessness with a team of researchers and practitioners to design and build new homes in their community, thereby gaining new skills, experiences and relationships in the process.

CA$525,580 over 5 years

Project details