We believe there is so much potential in people who have experienced youth homelessness to advance their well-being through education and to contribute to all areas of scholarship. We also believe in building an empowered, peer-led community with lived expertise who can advise researchers and personnel working to prevent and end youth homelessness. Therefore, we will work to create opportunities in mentorship, training, peer-to-peer learning, employment and bursaries for people with lived experience of youth homelessness (LivEx) to grow as leaders and advocates in their academic pursuits.

The vision of the MtS Scholars with LivEx Network is to be a national community and incubator for scholars at any stage in their career who have experienced youth homelessness to grow their network, develop their leadership capacity, and mentor each other in the areas of research, policy, government, and their communities.

The Network embodies these core values:

  1. Intersectionality, diversity and anti-oppression;
  2. Governance transparency and accountability within the Network;
  3. Safe, flexible, accessible, supportive activities and spaces;
  4. Trauma-informed practice (see definition from the Homeless Hub);
  5. Harm-reduction (see definition from the Homeless Hub);
  6. Decolonizing practice and cultural safety.

The MtS Scholars With LivEx Network is hosted and supported by the MtS Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab.

The Network will be a community created by and for scholars with lived experience with youth homelessness to:

  1. Access mentorship, networking, leadership, training, and capacity-building opportunities, within the Network and beyond, to support and accelerate career paths in academia, research, policy and advocacy;
  2. Participate in opportunities to advise and engage with researchers, policy-makers, and frontline workers on perspectives of people with lived experience, to help effect systems change in youth homelessness prevention and exits;
  3. Be part of a supportive, active community where members have the opportunity to mentor one another, connect with others who share experiences with youth homelessness, and help to co-create and shape the Network.

We believe that preventing and ending youth homelessness must be informed by those with lived experience in a meaningful way. Therefore, as part of Making The Shift’s Development of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) program, the Network will both:

  1. Develop the next generation of LivEx HQP scholars, leaders and advocates mentorship and training in their desired fields, and
  2. Be a platform for mobilizing LivEx-informed knowledges, to develop HQP among MtS’s wider network of researchers and personnel who are working to prevent and end youth homelessness.

If you:

  1. Have had an experience with youth homelessness between the ages of 13 and 24 in the past or present, and
  2. Are a scholar at any stage in your career—whether you are looking to return to post-secondary education, or are currently enrolled in training or school, or are established in your field and looking to mentor others;

this Network is for you!

We use the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness’ definition of youth homelessness. It refers to the situation and experience of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, but do not have the means or ability to acquire a stable, safe or consistent residence.

This can include living on the streets, in shelters, or institutions with no fixed address, but also includes hidden youth homelessness, where a person may be temporarily ‘couchsurfing’ with relatives, friends, neighbours, or strangers without the means and ability to acquire immediate prospects for permanent housing.

We recognize that the causes and experiences of youth homelessness are diverse and look different for each individual. If you would like to talk to us about your fit for the network, you can reach us at mtslivex@yorku.ca

For Indigenous peoples, for example, the experience of homelessness encompasses more than a lack of physical housing, and is more fully described and understood through a composite lens of Indigenous worldviews. These include: individuals, families and communities isolated from their relationships to land, water, place, family, kin, each other, animals, cultures, languages and identities. Importantly, Indigenous people experiencing these kinds of homelessness cannot culturally, spiritually, emotionally or physically reconnect with their Indigeneity or lost relationships (Aboriginal Standing Committee on Housing and Homelessness, 2012).

You can express your interest in joining the Network, or learning more about the Network, by filling out the form, link at the bottom of the page.

You can contact the Network with questions at mtslivex@yorku.ca

We will release the full application process to join the Network in Winter/Spring 2020.

No matter where along the spectrum you are in your education or career, from aspiring to return to post-secondary, to already being an established scholar, there are opportunities for all interested members who have experienced youth homelessness.

Whether you are an established scholar, an emerging scholar, or want to return to school, you will:

  • Connect and develop relationships with peers within the Scholars with LivEx Network, and other professionals in research, policy, government, front-line service, philanthropy and advocacy within the wider MtS Network Centres of Excellence (NCE);
  • Participate in a Network mentorship matchmaking program, whether as a mentee in the early stages of their career, or as a mentor for others;
  • Access the Network’s opportunities hub for career and leadership development, including training, speaking engagements, keynotes, and Research Assistantships;

Have opportunities to hone advocacy skills by sitting on advisory activities to the Making The Shift NCE as a lived expert in youth homelessness prevention and exits.

The Network is shaped and governed by scholars with lived experience. The Scholars With LivEx Steering Committee is responsible for the stewardship and operationalization of the Network. It includes Co-Chair Dr. Alina Turner, Making The Shift’s Training Coordinator, and for year one, MtS Scholars With LivEx Founding Members Jayne Malefant and Charlotte Smith.

There will be a rotating opportunity for an additional Network member to sit on the Steering Committee. This position is paid by honorarium.

Activities of the Steering Committee include:

  • Guiding and refining governance and operations of the Network;
  • Acting as key representatives at advocacy opportunities to the MtS staff, Board and beyond;
  • Steering regular communications with Network members;
  • Ensuring the Network and its activities are continuously driven by and accountable to its core values and ethics (see Q1).

While most activities in the Network are volunteer, there are occasional opportunities that will have honoraria attached to them, such as sitting on the Steering Committee.

Opportunities will be co-created with the Steering Committee and in consultation with Network members. Examples include:

  1. Mentorship matchmaking program with leading scholars, policy-makers, service providers and community organizers, within the LivEx Network and throughout the MtS Network Centres of Excellence (NCE);
  2. Job training and development opportunities across a spectrum of age groups and needs, from getting into post-secondary to entering the workforce and higher academia;
  3. Opportunities to build capacity in leading inclusive, experience-informed change in communities;
  4. Opportunity hub for bursaries, grants, awards, Research-Assistantships, and honorarium-based speaking, keynote and advocacy opportunities across the country.

Applications for the 2020 cohort of LivEx are now closed. If you have questions about the Network, you can reach us at mtslivex@yorku.ca