Online Program

Talking about Housing First: Engaging the expertise of peers in homelessness research and advocacy

Monday, November 2, 2015

Faith Eiboff, MSc, School of Population & Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Aaron Munro, RainCity Housing and Support Society, Vancouver, Canada
Objectives: This presentation will describe the development and evolution of the Vancouver Housing First Speakers Bureau, an innovative peer-led homelessness advocacy group that developed during the Canadian At Home/Chez Soi multi-site homelessness research demonstration project (October 2009 - March 2013). The presentation will outline the Speakers Bureau peer-led model of operation, and highlight some of the key milestones, successes and lessons learned for starting a similar knowledge exchange program.

Description: The Vancouver Housing First Speakers Bureau provides a platform for people with histories of homelessness and mental illness to engage with the community, open the dialogue on issues related to mental health and homelessness, and discuss the impact of Housing First in their lives – an emerging service model that serves to transition the most vulnerable homeless individuals into permanent housing. Initiated by 11 participants, the Speakers Bureau has grown to 17 core members. They received media training, and through a peer support model speak with diverse audiences in policy, academic and non-academic settings throughout the year. Members of the Bureau are brave and generous individuals who share their first-hand experiences and 'insider' knowledge of what it’s like interacting with their community of choice and creating a safe place to live. The Bureau has received considerable accolades from community stakeholders for generating candid, engaging and educational discussions that challenge the myths and stereotypes often associated with people who have experienced chronic homelessness.

Conclusion: Involving peers in the dissemination of research results is a participatory and capacity-building approach to knowledge exchange that can advance mutual learning, promote more informed and balanced policy discussions, and share power in decision-making with people who have often been excluded from conversations regarding policies and services that directly impacts their lives.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the engagement and role of people with lived experience in homeless research and advocacy. Discuss the role of Housing First as a public health intervention towards community integration and long-term recovery.

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD student at the University of British Columbia. My research focuses on homelessness at the intersections of gender, violence, trauma, mental health and addictions. I am supported by a CIHR Doctoral Research Award and a UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowship, and am the nominated Principal Applicant of a CIHR Dissemination grant to engage formerly homeless peers in knowledge dissemination activities with the Vancouver At Home/Chez Soi research demonstration project on Housing First.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.