From our Directors: Our Impact in 2021

This letter is featured in our 2021 Impact Report. You can read the full report here. 

Dear supporters and network members,

We’re pleased to have the opportunity to once again report on the ongoing success of the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab. This is our second annual report in the context of a global pandemic. The pandemic has laid increasingly bare the problem with allowing anyone to remain in a state of homelessness for any amount of time, and especially developing adolescents and young adults. Homelessness encampments in communities across Canada have emerged as a result of the pandemic and the fears of those experiencing homelessness concerning the safety of emergency shelters. Average Canadians are exposed to the issue in ways they haven’t been before. This provides an important opportunity for us to continue to beat the drum for homelessness prevention, and to consider how the knowledge we are generating through Making the Shift can contribute to the pandemic recovery.

As we enter the third year of the Networks of Centres of Excellence grant, we’re proud of the projects we’ve funded that are underway across Canada. We’re doing a lot of planning for all of the activities we’ll engage in to mobilize that knowledge to have an impact on public policy, service delivery, and investment. In addition, we’re working closely with our research theme leads to identify any gaps in our research agenda that can be filled by our next open call for proposals.

You may know that on June 21, 2019, the Governor-General signed into law Bill C-97, which contained the “National Housing Strategy Act”, and the federal right to housing legislation. Over the last year, we’ve been exploring how to actualize the right to housing for youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness. To this end, we hosted an international virtual forum that brought together lived experience experts, policymakers, researchers, advocates, and practitioners with expertise and influence in the area of youth homelessness. We have also engaged in consultations with human rights and the rights of the child experts. Our goal is to emerge with robust recommendations for all orders of government for how to best realize the right to housing for those youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Finally, we’re pleased to announce that the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, A Way Home Canada, and our Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab has received the designation of a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe “Charter Centre of Excellence,” to be known as the “Toronto Centre of Excellence (TCE) on Youth Homelessness Prevention at York University.” This important honour allows us to internationally amplify our work in the areas of knowledge generation and knowledge mobilization across all UNECE Member States. We want to thank York University and the Faculty of Education for all of the support in helping make the TCE a reality. We’ll look forward to reporting out all of the important activities of the TCE in the coming months.


Dr. Stephen Gaetz, Scientific Director

Melanie Redman, Partnership and Implementation Director