Your Research Can Help Improve BC’s Housing Policy

Dale Anderson, Housing Policy Branch, British Columbia

Dale Anderson from the Housing Policy Branch in British Columbia provides this week’s guest blog post. 

Picture of apartment buildingBC’s Housing Policy Branch develops housing policy on behalf of the British Columbia provincial government. We work in three primary areas: social housing; affordable market housing; and strata (condo) housing. The branch also serves as liaison with BC Housing, the Crown corporation responsible for implementing the Province’s housing direction. We also work closely with the two other branches that, with Housing Policy, make up the Office of Housing and Construction Standards: the Residential Tenancy Branch, and the Building and Safety Standards Branch.

Not surprisingly given the importance of housing to individual households, communities and wider society, our work encompasses a wide range of policy issues. Some of the issues we’re interested in include:

  • The most effective strategies to prevent and address homelessness.
  • How depreciation reports and other measures help strata (condo) corporations better manage their common assets over the long term.
  • How best to structure rent supplement programs, to assist lower-income households.
  • How investor-owned, rented strata units affect the rental and the homeownership markets.
  • Housing affordability, including assessing how laneway and carriage housing, or access to good transit, affect affordability.
  • The preparedness of our communities and housing stock for the increase of seniors we will see in the coming years, and how best to support ‘aging in place.’
  • Where and how manufactured home parks best provide affordable housing options.
  • General economic conditions and demographic changes affecting housing.

The Housing Policy Branch would like better connections with researchers across BC (and elsewhere) doing housing and related research, to support us in our work. Your research can help improve housing policy in British Columbia, so please consider sharing it with us. Or, as readers of this blog might say, ‘mobilize your knowledge’ by sending it to a group of policy analysts interested in learning from you. We’d be pleased to receive summaries of your research findings, copies of your research, links to your websites, or notice of public presentations you do. You can reach us at

Dale Anderson is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Housing Policy Branch. She can be reached at More information about the Housing Policy Branch and the Office of Housing and Constructions Standards is available at:

Research Forum Provides New Perspective on Ways to End Youth Homelessness

The following was originally posted in YFile, York University’s Daily News, on November 26, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

Homeless YouthA systems approach is needed to respond to youth homelessness in York Region and Canada. This was the message at yesterday’s research forum: Re-Imagining Our Response to Youth Homelessness: A Canadian and Global Perspective, organized by United Way York Region (UWYR) and York University at the Markham Convergence Centre.

“A multi-sectoral approach is necessary. Non-profit organizations, universities, governments and other key stakeholders have to work together to end youth homelessness and move forward with one clear vision,” said keynote speaker Stephen Gaetz, York University professor and director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. “We need to reconsider our response to youth homelessness and shift our focus away from an emphasis on emergency supports towards prevention and rapid rehousing.”

Representatives from a variety of sectors gathered at the Markham Convergence Centre to talk about an effective response to youth homelessness in York Region and Canada.

The research forum was organized by UWYR in partnership with York University’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit through a one-year Public Outreach Grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz

“We see this event as a great opportunity to invite people to think differently about youth homelessness and learn from other jurisdictions,” said Jane Wedlock, knowledge mobilization officer, UWYR. “And we can consider whether we might explore some of these different approaches.”

Examples were drawn from different Canadian provinces and other countries that have undertaken some innovative approaches to addressing youth homelessness.

“It was impressive to see York research at a forum designed to facilitate relationship building, a two-way exchange between academic researchers and practitioners in social service provision, all with one common vision to support positive changes in addressing issues of youth homelessness in York Region,” said Michael Johnny, manager of knowledge mobilization at York University.

“Research Forums, such as the one held yesterday, are an important process of effective knowledge mobilization by creating a culture of collaboration and realizing the potential for research to have a direct and positive impact for York Region,” said Johnny.

For more information, visit the UWYR website.

New KMb in Action Stories

In our recent social media survey (read the blog post about the survey results here), several people said they would be interested in reading more KMb success stories and seeing examples of KMb projects. To answer this call we have added some new stories to the KMb in Action section of our website. Among these stories you can read about: York Prof. Isolde Diaski’s Health Bus Project, University of Victoria Prof. Jutta Gutberlet’s Binning in Victoria project and others. These stories are brief, sometimes featuring videos or supporting documentation and some have a ResearchSnapshot clear langauge research summary but most share the common element of researchers and non-academic partners working together to solve an unmet need.

We know the term knowledge mobilization isn’t always easy to grasp at first so we hope that by sharing some examples of KMb projects and events in action, visitors to our site will better understand what KMb is all about and how we might be able to help them.

Do you have a KMb project or event you would like featured on our website? If so, please contact us at

Binners in Victoria

‘What Works’ in Homelessness Program Evaluation? Ask York and UVic Researchers!

In the summer of 2009, as part of the initial grant for KM pilot projects at York University and University of Victoria, the two institutions developed a competitive, adjudicated process for Faculty Incentive Grants for teams of researchers and their partners to address research issues with relevant public policy and/or professional practice implications. Here is a summary of one of these projects:

Drs. Stephen Gaetz (York) and Bernie Pauly (UVic) were Principal Investigators on a project designed to establish a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of programs that address ways of ending homelessness.  Their project activity included research and development of an evaluative framework, which resulted in a one-day workshop held on September 24, 2009 at York.  The workshop focused on reviewing the project findings, as well as discussing next steps.

The project team identified the following outcomes:

  • Completion of two literature reviews
  • Building research relationships between the two institutions
  • Strengthened links between academic researchers and community partners
  • Creation of new knowledge (evaluation, best-practices, KM framework)
  • Future KM planning in homelessness program evaluation
  • Completion of an application to the Homeless Partnering Strategy for October 2009
  • Supporting local program evaluation efforts through information sharing from literature reviews

Despite the tight timelines, the deliverables along with strengthened and (in some cases) expanded relationships have made this project a success.  In the words of the PI’s,

“We were successful in creating a functioning research team and creating the knowledge of program evaluation and best practices.”

“The two literature reviews were useful not only as a process for learning, but a key outcome are the summaries of this important work.  York is preparing a final report summarizing evaluation practices and UVic is developing a report highlighting best practices in ending homelessness and evaluation in the homelessness sector”.

ResearchImpact hosts a visit by Stockholm and Uppsala Universities in Sweden

On Friday, October 15, York University’s KM Unit hosted a day-long visit by a delegation of 11 researchers and administrators from Stockholm University and Uppsala University who were visiting Canada to learn more about successful Knowledge Transfer and Exchange (KTE) practices.

Steve Gaetz enjoying his baconPresentations were made from Dr. Stephen Gaetz who leads Canada’s Homelessness Research Repository, Homeless Hub; Geoff Webb who is Senior Manager for York’s Experiential Education Program; Obadiah George and Deb Kitchener who work with York’s Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning Project (ABEL) and Michael Johnny with ResearchImpact.  The presentations provided our visitors with a range of activities and tools that York and its partners in KM are using to successfully support KM/KTE.

View the presentations:

Experiential Education and Knowledge Transfer: Bring Textbooks to Life

Making Research Matter: Mobilizing Homelessness Research in Canada

Knowledge Mobilization is Turning Research into Action

Most, but not all, of the delegates were working in industry liaison or technology commercialization operations but they has a particular interested in how to meet the needs to scholars in the humanities and social sciences.  Michael Johnny and MariaIn the words of Sara Jernberg from Uppsala University Innovation, it was “really exciting to hear how you are working. I got a lot of inspiration and good ideas.”   York VP Research & Innovation, Stan Shapson, and David Dewitt, Assoc. VP Research (Social Sciences & Humanities) joined the group for lunch.  One delegate expressed that they were impressed at the degree of engagement with the social sciences and humanities at York.

One online translation of ‘inspiration’ into Swedish gives the result “ingivelse, inandning, lyftning”.  So we wish all of us lots of “ingivelse, inandning, lyftning” as these are universal building blocks for innovation.  The international network for KM grew stronger because of our meeting and we were honoured to host our guests and look forward to ongoing communication in support of our mutual goals of KM/KTE.

York’s Special Research Edition of YorkU Magazine Looks Back on KM as We Look Forward to More

Stan ShapsonSam SchwartzLast week York published its special Research Edition of York U, the magazine of York University. This edition of YorkU features many stories of only a few of the great researchers we have at York but KM was up front and personal. KM was featured in the welcome from VP Research & Innovation, Stan Shapson and the introduction from Sam Schwartz, Chair of the Board Academic Resources Committee. President Shoukri linked KM right back to York’s mission statement illustrating the foundational role KM plays between the university and its non-academic research stakeholders, “Knowledge is of no benefit to anyone if it sits on a shelf. The greatest responsibility of the university is to mobilize that knowledge – to share it with the community and the world to help solve the problems we face, to improve competitiveness, to increase prosperity.”

KM at York started in 2005 with a CIHR/SSHRC Intellectual Property Mobilization grant to York and our KM partner University of Victoria. Working from two other SSHRC grants we have also received support from York’s Division of Vice-President Research & Innovation as well as important financial support from our partners, York Region District School Board and Regional Municipality of York. Money is nice but partnership is essential. United Way of York RegionOver the last 4 years we have worked with over 100 different community and government agencies who have worked with York faculty and graduate students. Some of our strong supporters have helped out on our Joint Advisory Committee and the United Way of York Region permeates our existence in a mutually supportive fashion.

President ShoukriYork’s KM Unit has brokered a number of relationships that continue to grow. President Shoukri mentioned some of these including a few we have previously written about such as Mobilizing Minds and a partnership between Stephen Gaetz’ Homeless Hub and Bernie Pauly of UVic. These are but two of the 155 partnerships we have brokered since 2005. That’s good but not good enough. We continue to work with local organizations seeking to engage with York research. We have a great relationship with the MITACS ACCELERATE Program to fund graduate interns working with decision maker organizations. ResearchSnapshotWe are piloting social networking tools for research and knowledge mobilization. We are poised to double our library of ResearchSnapshot research summaries and we are seeking to add other universities and communities to ResearchImpact, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network.

That’s what we’ve done but let us know how we’re doing. Tell us how wonderful we are or how we can do better using the comment feature above. To help us grow and meet your needs better we shall soon be sending you and all our KM community a survey about our web based services. Thanks for helping us grow.

Read the YorkU Magazine articles here. And to read the whole Special Research Edition 2010 of YorkU, click here.

Everything is ready to go for another GS 500 Interdisciplinary Graduate course at the University of Victoria!

BC Ministry of Housing and Social DevelopmentThese courses match interdisciplinary graduate students up with real life research questions coming from a partnering agency in the community. For the fall 2009 course the Community partner is the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development. Questions coming from the Ministry will focus on topics such as: homelessness in our community; rental market and market housing; housing needs in Aboriginal communities; sustainable and green housing, and much more.

The course will be co-taught by Dr. Bernie Pauly from the UVic faculty of nursing, and Dr. Cecile Lacombe, director of housing research for the BC Government. The Knowledge Mobilization Unit will facilitate the matching of graduate students to research questions appropriate for their area of study. The students will then work one on one with a research partner from the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development, with a focus on action and recommendations to the Ministry. The end of the term will be marked by student presentations at a knowledge dissemination event that will open to all people who are interested in the topic.

Re-Launch of the Homeless Hub

The KM Units of York and UVic are pleased to support Stephen Gaetz and homelessness research including the Homeless Hub.  Mobilize This! recently wrote about some of this work and we are pleased to feature the re-launch of this knowledge mobilization website.

As featured in Yfile on Friday the Homeless Hub will re-launch providing researchers, students, schools and decision makers with enhanced access to research on issues related homelessness. From the Homeless Hub web site “Launched in 2007, the Homeless Hub is a web-based research library and information center representing an innovative step forward in the use of technology to enhance knowledge mobilization and networking. The Homeless Hub has emerged as a place where community services providers, researchers, government representatives, and the general public can access and share research, stories, and best practices.” The new and improved Homeless Hub continues this work, makes research even more accessible and interactive, it includes resources for educators and it hosts a downloadable e book “Finding Home”.

Stephen Gaetz (Faculty of Education, York University) is the principal investigator of the Homeless Hub which is supported by a SSHRC Cluster Grant and with support from Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy. He is also leader of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network.

New Homeless Hub Web Site

New Homeless Hub Web Site

Personal Reflections on the ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: Living Homeless in York Region’ Photovoice Exhibit at YorkU – April 27 to May 1, 2009

The York Region Alliance to End Homelessness (YREAH) was formed in 1999 as concerns about homelessness were emerging in our communities. “The Alliance is a coalition of social service agencies, faith groups, interested community members and government representatives that meets regularly to understand, plan and coordinate services and supports related to homelessness in York Region”. What underlies this statement is an incredible, tireless commitment to support this work. I have had the pleasure of working with this agency as a knowledge broker at York University. The emergence of a KM unit at York in 2006 provided opportunity for this agency to seek opportunities to bolster its limited capacity to perform its work. In the summer of 2008, KM Intern Jennifer Logan (MA Candidate, Geography) worked for the Alliance to lead a Photovoice project that captured the images and voices of York Region’s homeless population. The primary goal of the project was to develop a resource to help raise the awareness of homelessness issues in York Region in helping advance policies and practices for homelessness in York Region.

I was able to visit the exhibit here at York on the afternoon of April 30 and I was the only visitor in the gallery at the time. The pictures tell stories that statistics simply cannot. Seeing those images took me back to my work in adult literacy where each person I worked with had a story to tell. The stories were not always pleasant (although some were) and unfortunately reflected a daily reality of struggle and perseverance. The images I saw brought many of the stories from my early career back to life, in a moving and extremely powerful way. I recall a quotation from Joseph Stalin that has stuck with me, “One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.” The exhibit I saw helped me to remember we are not dealing with numbers or statistics here, but with people. These people are part of our community.

I applaud Jennifer and YREAH for their work in giving voice to people who are not always given changes to tell their stories. The stories in that room have helped me to reflect on the importance of my work and I am grateful for that lesson!

ResearchImpact Funds Homelessness Research and Knowledge Mobilization

“At this time, there is a dearth of information on the effectiveness of our responses to homelessness and our service models, including housing programs. That is, there is very little evaluation research of programs in Canada…In an era of increasing solutions to homelessness, it is increasingly important to know what works, why it works and for whom it works.”

Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz

ResearchImpact has a mandate to link researchers and decision makers in Victoria and Toronto but such collaborations need to be seeded in order to develop into full partnerships. ResearchImpact is investing in collaborative research and KM projects that address social challenges that are common to the two cities. Through a competitive process York has made a $30,000 grant to a project lead by Stephen Gaetz (York University), Bernie Pauly (University of Victoria) and their community partners Rachel Gray (Eva’s Initiatives), Kathy Stinson (Victoria Cool Aid Society) and Jill Clements, (Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness). Stephen and Bernie are joined by colleagues at York (Uzo Anucha, Stephanie Baker Collins, Michaela Hynie and Daphne Winland) and at UVic (Jutta Gutberlet, Aleck Ostry, Margo Matwychuk and Darlene Clover).

Their project, Ending Homelessness: “What works and for whom?” will establish a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of programs that address ending homelessness and it has three components:

• Based on a review of the literature and expert consultation, develop indicators for assessing programs and practices aimed at ending homelessness;


Bernie Pauly

• Develop and test an evaluation framework for assessing the effectiveness of programs for ending homelessness

• Using plain language summaries, technology to enhance access to the project and dissemination using the Homeless Hub the project will mobilize knowledge related to best practices in ending homelessness and guidelines for program evaluation in order to enhance community capacity and to allow other communities to use the evaluation methodologies developed.

The project will run jointly in both cities and results made available during Fall 2009. Good luck to the team. Stay tuned to Mobilize This! for more information on this and other investments ResearchImpact is making for social innovation.