Highlights from a World Café

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Authors: Joe Humphries, Sarah Canham, PhD, and Atiya Mahmood, PhD

Discovering promising practices to support aging-in-the-right-place for older persons experiencing homelessness: Highlights from a regional World Café

The numbers of older adults experiencing homeless is on the rise in Canada, yet housing options that support the varied and often complex needs of this population are scarce.

The numbers of older adults experiencing homeless is on the rise in Canada (Gaetz, Dej, & Richter, 2016), yet housing options that support the varied and often complex needs of this population are scarce (Serge & Gnaedinger, 2003). To address this important gap, Drs. Sarah Canham and Atiya Mahmood have teamed up with researchers at the University of Calgary, McGill University, and Université du Québec à Montréal and secured Phase 1 funding for a Partnership Development Grant to build inter- and intra-city capacity between the housing and health sectors in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. With a team of 8 co-applicants, over 25 community partners, and persons with lived experience of homelessness across three cities, the aim is to learn from each context in order to identify, evaluate, and scale up promising practice models that prevent and address later-life homelessness.

This one-year grant, funded through a joint initiative of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), responds to a call from Canada’s National Housing Strategy [https://www.placetocallhome.ca/] to better meet the housing needs of all Canadians. One key priority of the National Housing Strategy is housing for those in greatest need, which includes older persons experiencing homelessness.

Project tasks include an environmental scan of existing promising practice housing models that support aging-in-the-right-place for older persons with lived experience of homelessness (PWLEs) in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver, as well as a scoping review of the literature on supportive housing practices for older PWLEs. Additionally, a World Café is being conducted in each city to bring together shelter/housing, service, and health providers with older PWLEs to have discussions about promising practices that have been identified through the environmental scan.