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Making The Shift Inc.—a Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab - MtS

$17.9 million for 2019-25
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Making The Shift Inc.—a Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab

York University, Toronto, Ontario

Partnership & Implementation Director
Melanie Redman Melanie Redman

Scientific Director
Stephen Gaetz Stephen Gaetz

Board Chair
Elizabeth McIsaacElizabeth McIsaac
President of Maytree

Shifting from management to prevention of youth homelessness

The opportunity

Youth homelessness is a seemingly intractable problem in Canada. Over the course of a year there are between 35,000–40,000 young people between the ages of 13–24 who experience homelessness, and on a given night at least 6,000. The current approach to addressing the problem, which typically involves relying on ad hoc emergency services and time-limited support, unfortunately leaves young people vulnerable and exposed to further trauma, criminal exploitation, poor health and social and economic exclusion. While we know much about the causes and conditions of youth homelessness, we know much less about how to prevent it, and how to produce better outcomes for youth who have experienced homelessness.

How MtS is seizing the opportunity

Making the Shift Inc.—A Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab (MtS) is a partnership of research networks and centres that will transform how we respond to youth homelessness in Canada. MtS will affect a shift from the ad hoc response to youth homelessness—centred on emergency services and time-limited support—to a strategic and coordinated system that prioritizes the prevention and ending of youth homelessness. Leveraging the strengths of lead partners, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University and A Way Home Canada, MtS’ vision is to establish 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.

Among the expected results

  • MtS invested over $8 million in 39 high quality, community-engaged research projects across its five themes: shifting to prevention through early intervention; sustaining successful exits from homelessness; enabling health, wellbeing and inclusion; enhancing outcomes for Indigenous youth; and leveraging data and technology to drive policy and practice.
  • MtS continued its investment in the evaluation of 15 demonstration projects in 12 communities in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario, focusing on four distinct program models, each representing a form of prevention as defined in the The Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness, including early intervention, housing stability, and sustained exists from homelessness.
  • The Toronto Centre of Excellence (TCE) on Youth Homelessness Prevention at York University, a partnership between the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, A Way Home Canada, and MtS, was established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in 2021. This designation enhances opportunities for international partnership and collaboration on research, knowledge mobilization, advocacy and training activities focused on the prevention of youth homelessness and sustainable housing. The TCE acts as an international megaphone for the work of MtS.
  • MtS launched the Scholars with Lived Experience Network (LivEx), created by and for members in the areas of mentorship, training, and peer-to-peer learning to grow as leaders in their academic pursuits. Individuals from this peer-led community with lived expertise are embedded through the organizational structure and advise researchers and personnel across the network.

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