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We have collected the 2015 conference presentations and are providing them here in PDF format. If you have any questions, or have difficulty accessing them, please contact us.

Monday, November 2, 2015 (Day 1)


A Way Home: Working Together to End Youth Homelessness in Canada

At the national level we have been working collaboratively to support communities and governments to craft and implement strategies to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. This session will showcase the formalization of these efforts into A Way Home: Working Together to End Youth Homelessness in Canada.

Youth homelessness prevention framework and change management

This session will introduce the National Homelessness Prevention Framework, provide a context for why a prevention lens is important, and identify how this framework can supported communities.   It will also provide a case study of how a prevention approach can be implemented within an organization to improve outcomes for young people experiencing homelessness.

Preventing, Reducing and Ending LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness Across Canada

This session will provide background information on the issue of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness in Canada and the unique needs of this population of young people. It will also explore various models for intervenes that address the unique needs of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.



What role do emergency shelters play in ending homelessness?

As communities re-orient their homeless systems to Housing First and ending homelessness, the role of emergency shelters quickly becomes a focus. In this session participants will learn about the evolving role of emergency shelters from a national and local perspective; from shelters just beginning their transformation and from those further down the road.


Homelessness policy in Montreal and Quebec: history, news and perspectives 

Examine the development, evolution and current state of homelessness policy in Quebec and Montreal. Presenters will discuss the development of Quebec’s unique National Policy on Homelessness, the creation of the Montreal Movement to End Homelessness and Montreal’s new municipal homelessness strategy.


Quebec Showcase

This session highlights interesting and innovative programs from Quebec including a university – shelter partnership in Montreal designed to inform the evolution of housing and support services and a housing stabilization program for people with complex needs in Trois Rivieres.

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Mental Health and Addiction

In communities across the country, the failure to address the specific needs of homeless youth with complex mental health needs and the lack of appropriate, timely services is resulting in a crisis for homeless young people, their families and the community agencies and structures that seek to support them.  This session will explore approaches, programs and tools that are proving successful in supporting young people experiencing homelessness with their mental health and addictions challenges.


Supportive housing for women: models and strategies

Beginning with an overview of the causes, impacts and demographics of women’s homelessness, this presentation discusses models and strategies of trauma-informed service in permanent housing for previously homeless women and girls. Structured in a conversational style to maximize information sharing, initial remarks will be followed by a facilitated discussion among panelists and the audience to share experiences, practice successes and information.


20,000 Homes Campaign overview and learnings from early pilots

“20K” is a block of concurrent sessions at CAEH15 for community leaders participating in the 20,000 Homes Campaign or those who are interested in joining the campaign. This first session includes a brief overview of the campaign and an interactive panel discussion with our three pilot communities (Waterloo, Ottawa and Hamilton) who will share their processes, results and learnings.


Housing First fidelity in a Canadian context

What does it mean to be a high quality Housing First program in Canada? How is Housing First evolving internationally and how is it different in Canada than it is elsewhere? In this session presenters will discuss how Housing First has evolved and what fidelity looks like in a Canadian context.


Engaging Challenging Clients

Too often challenging clients who struggle with addiction, medical problems, trauma and mental illness are labelled as ‘difficult’, ‘disengaged,’ or even ‘choosing homelessness’. These clients don’t form close relationships with staff or embrace housing and programming. Presenters will share strategies for empathetic and assertive engagement that engages clients on the clients’ terms and results in more positive housing outcomes.


Activist-ally dialogue: building a unified movement to end homelessness

This session will bring together activists in grassroots local and national campaigns to end poverty and homelessness, with professionals in law, research, and policy, to discuss building a unified movement to end homelessness that places lived experience leadership at the centre.


Mental Health

Researchers will present papers on: knowledge exchange and transfer strategy to reduce criminal justice involvement among homeless individuals living with mental illness; mental health and migration pathways of homeless people in northeastern Ontario; an analysis of the costs of homeless people with mental illness receiving services in five Canadian cities; and, the meaning of poverty for individuals with mental illness.



TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2015 (Day 2)


Taking Housing First to scale: implementing Housing First practices across the homeless system

This session will provide participants with an opportunity to understand how to employ Housing First practices in daily program activities across the homeless system – from initial screening and assessment to housing planning and placement assistance.  Practices relevant across a wide range of program interventions (like street outreach, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and homelessness prevention) and consumers will be discussed, along with strategies to employ Housing First as a coordinated crisis response and re-housing system. Tools for assessing current program practices and determining what changes might be made will also be shared and discussed, along with strategies for reviewing and refining practices with agency staff. 


Nothing about us, without us: principles and practices for lived experience leadership in services, advocacy and policy

At CAEH14, a group of lived experience leaders from across Canada came together to define principles for inclusion of people with lived experience in services, advocacy and policy settings. These principles, under the banner Nothing About Us Without Us, were presented to the conference plenary on the final day. At this workshop, we will review and elaborate upon the seven guiding principles developed at CAEH14, and present some promising examples of how inclusion principles have been implemented across the country.

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For many youth training for and access to good work (safe, sustainable and good paying) is one component of the support they need to end their experience of homelessness. This session features promising practices that are showing results in ending youth homelessness.


Dimensions of quality in permanent supportive housing

The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) Dimensions of Quality Supportive Housing is a guidebook designed to build the capacity of the supportive housing sector to create and operate high-quality, effective and sustainable housing units. This interactive session will provide an overview of the dimensions of quality and the guidebook with an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about what it means to create and operate high quality, effective and sustainable housing in Canada.


Registry week 101

This mini-Boot Camp will walk through the core elements of the 20,000 Homes Campaign Registry Week process and tools including the VI SPDAT. Participants will be given copies of the Registry Week Toolkit and given the opportunity to ask questions and get advice.


Guidelines for adapting Housing First to different populations and local

For Housing First to be effective, programs have to be tailored to respond to the housing and support needs of consumers and be implemented in a way that makes sense in each community, bearing in mind local capacity and resources. This session will explore guidelines on how Housing First can be adapted to meet the needs of different populations and local contexts.


The supported fail as a therapeutic intervention in Housing First

Client choice and self-determination is a key component of effective Housing First practice, but all too often programs slide into the habit of “protecting” clients from what are perceived by the service providers as negative choices. Preventing a client from making a choice or making the choice for the client can negatively impact the client’s engagement with the program and reduce the client’s self-efficacy and independence.  In this session, the concept of the “supported fail” will be discussed in the context of supporting client right to self-determination, the right of practitioners to limit natural consequences versus the practitioner’s responsibility to prevent harm, and the opportunity to provide clients with opportunities for learning.


Facilitating screening and prioritization for Housing First services

Based upon the work of the Housing First Assessment Taskforce created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Canadian Observatory on Homelessness panelists will propose the Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT) as a less well known but strong option for screening and prioritization of clients for Housing First programs. The panelists will discuss the administration, content, strengths and weaknesses of the VAT and how it can fit within local screening and prioritization processes, with a particular emphasis on system mapping and local adaptations. During this session participants will be encouraged to discuss their experiences with screening and prioritization so that effective strategies that have been used in other local contexts can be identified and shared.


Understanding and facilitating the implementation of effective models of housing and supports

The seeming complexity of homelessness tends to obscure what is a much more simple and straightforward problem: a lack of safe, affordable and appropriate housing, as well as income and supports. This sessions will explore housing and supports from several different perspectives including: Fostering security for newcomers with housing insecurity; promoting integrative health and social care in Ontario; effective strategies for temporary resident relocation in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside; and response-shift bias in quality of life measures from the At Home/Chez Soi Project.


Achieving functional zero: lessons from the field

For communities that have demonstrated progress in ending homelessness, the development of a coordinated access and common assessment approach has been an essential component of their success. These tools pave the way for a more efficient homeless service system by leveraging the strengths of individual service providers, improving consumer access to the right housing and support options to meet their needs, reducing new entries into homelessness and improving data on needs, strengths, opportunities and appropriate approaches to end homelessness.


Coordinated access and assessment systems

For communities that have demonstrated progress in ending homelessness, the development of a coordinated access and common assessment approach has been an essential component of their success. These tools pave the way for a more efficient homeless service system by leveraging the strengths of individual service providers, improving consumer access to the right housing and support options to meet their needs, reducing new entries into homelessness and improving data on needs, strengths, opportunities and appropriate approaches to end homelessness.

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Gaps in caring: models for supporting youth exiting care, youth experiencing sexual exploitation, and newcomer youth

This session looks at three sub-populations that make up a disproportionate amount of young people experiencing homelessness (newcomer youth, youth exiting care, and youth experiencing sexual exploitation) and effective models to support their transition to healthy adulthood.


Models of harm reduction in permanent housing

A harm reduction approach to addiction focuses on keeping people safe and minimizing death, disease and injury associated with higher risk behaviour, while recognizing that the behaviour may continue despite the risks. How to safely house people in the community on a harm reduction basis becomes one of the most challenging aspects of housing programs. In this session, presenters will discuss harm reduction in the context of two housing programs, the Oasis Program in Ottawa and Art Manuel House in Toronto.


Data collection, reporting and analysis

20,000 Homes Campaign communities are required to collect information from clients through surveys, analyze the data collected and report on housing placements. This session will cover the basics of campaign data collection, reporting and analysis covering the key tools and processes with a special focus on privacy and consent.


Models of Housing First service teams

A critical success factor in Housing First is tailoring programs to local context and population needs. This session will discuss different ways Housing First service teams can be structured including: resourcing, setting up 24/7 support, working with smaller client ratios and Flexible Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) models.


Housing retention strategies: incorporating community building and eviction prevention

This panel will explore several different strategies used by Housing First providers who have a demonstrated high rate of housing retention for those they serve. It will explore how these providers use landlord tenant relationships, eviction prevention strategies and the development of intentional communities in their housing programs. These approaches, which aim to create places of belonging, also address potential problems with residents/ tenants through the use of proactive measures that keep tenants housed.


Exploring effective systems responses to homelessness

Homelessness is a systemic issue, which therefore requires integrated systems responses.  Evidence suggests that the most successful responses to homelessness are strategic and coordinated, placing a much greater emphasis on prevention and moving people out of homelessness as quickly as possible.


Homelessness Round-up

This is a sampling of some of the diverse topics in homelessness research including projects on: perspectives from families of homeless individuals; arts based participatory research to address stigma; homelessness and aging; and, the psychosocial needs and stressors facing frontline staff serving homeless people.


Family Homelessness

While attention in has been on chronic and youth homelessness in Canada, the fastest growth in emergency shelter use across the country has been in family homelessness. This session looks at family homelessness from two perspectives. First, a research project from Raising the Roof that analyzed Housing First programming for both its strengths and weaknesses in supporting families. Second, a Region of Waterloo a coordinated entry and emergency shelter diversion program for families that resulted in an 80% reduction in family shelter stays in its first six months.


Homelessness Prevention

In order to end homelessness we need to begin to focus upstream on prevention. This session explores three local, provincial and national prevention initiatives. In Toronto the John Howard Society has opened the first of its kind ‘one stop reintegration shop’ for men being released from the Toronto South Detention Centre. In BC, BC Housing has expanded their Homelessness Prevention Program to target specific populations (youth leaving care, women and children fleeing violence, Aboriginal peoples, and discharge from corrections or health care) at key transition points which place them at particular risk of homelessness. Finally, Homeless Link from the UK will look at how homeless services in the UK are changing to embrace a more preventative approach to ending homelessness.

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Housing Options for Youth

This session explores how we can prevent youth from experiencing homelessness again through intentional housing approaches that meet the specific needs of youth. Strategies and resources for replicating these solutions in your home community will be provided.


Developing and supporting purpose built permanent supportive housing

Purpose built permanent supportive housing with high quality support services are an important ingredient in the housing mix. In this session, the Calgary Homeless Foundation will share their experience in the design, development and community consultation process involved in the construction of new supportive housing. St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society will then share their model for safely and successfully housing a diverse population (many with complex needs) without government operating funds.


Using the campaign for engagement and advocacy

The immediate objective of the 20,000 Homes Campaign is to house 20,000 of the most vulnerable homeless Canadians by July 1, 2018. The longer term vision is to build a grassroots movement of communities that will lead to the end of homelessness in Canada. In this interactive session presenters will share strategies and tools for engagement, advocacy and movement building.


Integrating recovery guidelines and practice when delivering Housing First

A recovery orientation is considered to be a foundational approach for improving mental health and quality of life outcomes.  It starts with a belief that with the right combination of services and supports, many people who are living with even the most severe mental illnesses can experience significant improvements in their quality of life.  This session will explore the important role the “recovery approach’ plays in Housing First; what is it, how do you implement it; and how is it related to Housing First and ending homelessness? It will offer tools you can draw on, including the recently released MHCC Guidelines for Recovery-oriented Practice. 


Housing support and landlord retention

A perennial challenge in Housing First is finding, recruiting and retaining private market landlords, often in very tight rental markets or in small towns with limited rental supply. Housing First teams also have to deal with the natural tensions between advocating for the client and maintaining positive relationships with landlords in order to retain housing options. In this session presenters will discuss these issues, specifically: strategies to engage and maintain relationships with property management, balancing housing needs and client retention, engaging landlords in smaller and rural settings, planned moves versus eviction and housing relocation.


Identifying effective responses to youth homelessness

1 in 5 shelter users is a young person and a high number of those living rough or in the hidden homelessness population are also youth. Responding to youth homelessness requires tailored and unique interventions to meet the needs of developing adolescents. This session explores: youth transitions to independent housing, understanding youth program participants’ choices regarding treatment and service options; homelessness and First Episode Psychosis for youth; and, housing as a determinant of health for young mothers.


Addressing Aboriginal homelessness in Canada 

Given the profound impact homelessness and inadequate housing have on Aboriginal communities it’s important to place emphasis on understanding the ways in which homelessness effects Aboriginal Peoples. In this session, presenters will discuss First Nations and Aboriginal housing policy and what Aboriginal Two-Spirit and LGBTQ people say about home, community and belonging.



Wednesday, November 4, 2015 (Day 3)


Community responses to homelessness for girls, women and their families

This session will showcase innovative, collaborative and unique approaches to women’s homelessness in London and Hamilton, Ontario. The London model adapts a housing first approach that is gender specific for girls, women and their families and is inclusive of women who are involved in street level sex work. In Hamilton, the Women’s Housing Planning Collaborative (WHPC) has put a gender lens on homelessness and is working collaboratively to develop, coordinate, advocate for and facilitate a gender specific, comprehensive and seamless system of services to best meet the needs of women who are at risk of and/or experiencing homelessness.


Looking beyond home: community integration and social inclusion

Evidence from research on Housing First to date has consistently shown fewer gains across domains of community integration among formerly homeless citizens once housed in the community, indicating that many individuals may face continuing challenges and unmet needs in the transition to becoming housed. This session will explore the key components and dimensions of community integration and social inclusion for homeless persons from experience in Vancouver with the At Home /Chez Soi project and from Exeko in Montreal.

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Working “upstream” to prevent youth homelessness in Canada

How do we work “upstream” to prevent youth homelessness? This session showcases school and community-based models to prevent youth homelessness.


Thinking outside the box: alternative and self-managed housing solutions

Some research cites problems with mainstream rental housing including distance from services, isolation from previous networks of informal support, inadequate housing conditions, and difficulties in “fitting in” to mainstream expectations of housing, and problematic relationships with private market landlords—as key reasons for returns to homelessness for some participants in Housing First programs. This session will introduce some creative responses to these concerns. Presenters will include planners and residents of alternative, self-managed housing models that build community, envision new ways of life, foster skills, and promote autonomy and self-determination.


20K5: Introducing the Community Self-Assessment Toolkit

This session will introduce a new community self-assessment toolkit to support improved housing placement rates and help communities begin streamlining processes toward the development of coordinated homelessness systems of care. The toolkit will be set up as a workbook and include: assessment; outreach; prioritization; housing placement and retention; coordinated systems delivery; and, information and performance management.



Using a trauma-informed approach in Housing First

Based on the experience of At Home/Chez Soi and other Housing First programs, we know that trauma is a central feature of people coming out of homelessness. This session will guide participants in understanding the effects and responses to trauma, and the importance of working with a trauma-informed approach in all interactions with Housing First participants.


The (Canadian) Housing First Provider’s Guide to the Galaxy : A guide to creating and sustaining a Housing First Intensive Case Management program (un guide pour créer et conserver un programme de gestion de cas intensive Logement d’abord)

Developing and growing an Intensive Case Management program using the Housing First philosophy is not a journey that one can undertake without a guide….this toolkit is your guide. 


Measuring progress towards ending homelessness  

This session will examine: planning implications of daily shelter use data from; a provincial housing and homelessness research strategy from Alberta; the impact of research in the transition of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy to Housing First; and the introduction of a global typology and definition of homelessness.


Understanding and facilitating the implementation of effective models of housing and supports

A key message in Housing First is that supports are an integral part of success. Whether supports are provided separate from housing or whether they are integrated into housing, it’s critical that we understand what supports are needed for who and why they work. This session explores: poverty, food insecurity and homelessness as key social determinants of health in southern Ontario; 24-month outcome findings of a Housing First program for people with problematic substance use; promising practices for housing and support interventions for the episodically and chronically homeless with FASD; and, experiences of social exclusion for mothers experiencing homelessness.


Responding to Aboriginal homelessness

Within urban areas across Canada, Aboriginal Peoples are disproportionately represented amongst homeless populations. This session will share examples of outreach programs in Calgary and Toronto providing tailored responses to Aboriginal Peoples experiencing homelessness.


Building community partnerships to end homelessness

Ending homelessness ultimately requires developing effective partnerships between a diversity of players across multiple systems and organizations. This session explore the benefits, challenges and complexities associated with developing these community partnerships. Presentations will include a discussion of learnings from a new partnership in Toronto between the City of Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division and the recently formed Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, as well as an exploration of service collaboration models from London highlighting the role and implementation strategies of collaborative community leadership.

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Rural Youth Homelessness

Youth homelessness looks much different in a rural setting and requires different interventions to effectively prevent youth homelessness. This session will highlight challenges that rural communities encounter and offer emerging and promising practices that are showing results in preventing youth homelessness in rural communities.


Supportive Housing Showcase

Within the spectrum of Housing First, Permanent Supportive Housing is a proven, effective approach to achieving housing stability for high acuity individuals experiencing chronic homelessness with co-occurring physical and mental health conditions. This session shares the unique challenges and opportunities of developing and running a place-based PSH program in Calgary with Accessible Housing Calgary and the experience of Supportive Housing of Waterloo in providing low-barrier housing to individuals that are actively using substances and/or experiencing diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues.


Identifying and disseminating bright spots and addressing common challenges

Deep in the DNA of the 20,000 Homes Campaign is a commitment to celebrate success that goes hand in hand in hand with a fixation on transparency and continuous improvement. In this interactive session we want to highlight successes and have an open and frank discussion about common challenges – and to work through those challenges so we can continue the drive to our objective.


Embedding peer inclusion in all aspects of Housing First 

This workshop will focus on the importance of incorporating people with lived experiences (PWLE) in the delivery of your services. People with lived experience of homelessness, mental illness, addiction and recovery have a tremendously important role to play in all levels of service delivery. PWLE should be part of any service team and also have a place in the boardroom. Their unique expertise and perspective allows them to inspire and communicate about recovery in ways that others cannot. This workshop will provide examples of how different organizations in Canada and the United States have hired and incorporated PWLE in all facets of their work and will also address common agency misperceptions regarding the role of PWLE staff that all too often limit their contributions on a service team.


Using data to inform Housing First program development

In this session presenters will show how large scale integrated data systems are being used to inform Housing First program development. In Toronto, the Shelter Management Information System provides a critical foundation to identify innovative service models for specific client groups and to measure progress towards ending homelessness. In Calgary, using data from the Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) from 2012-2015 on a sample of 2,300 unique Housing First clients, the Calgary Homeless Foundation was able to complete duration modelling and regression analysis to identify predictive factors among 70 variables that predict, or contribute to successful Housing First program outcome.


Exploring effective systems responses to homelessness – systems planning and coordination

This presentation provides a look at both the philosophical and practical issues of developing a systems approach to ending homelessness. Using a panel approach, it brings together viewpoints from mental health, affordable housing, and homelessness to highlight opportunities for collaborative responses to homelessness.


Advancing knowledge mobilization and research impact strategies in the homelessness sector

Knowledge mobilization is the act of sharing information and tools to help create impact in research and practice. In this session presenters will share four different knowledge mobilization tools including two toolkits on youth homelessness developed by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and its partners (Choices For Youth and Covenant House BC and Toronto), the National Rental Housing Index developed by BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Vulnerability Assessment Tool developed by Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Services Centre as used in Vancouver, and Extreme Cleaning, a homelessness prevention program developed by VHA Home HealthCare. These four projects will share processes, outcomes and conditions for success, as well as identify what strategies work and for whom they work.


Making experience matter: Supporting service and policy organizations in engaging people with lived experience in ending homelessness

The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is a partnership of local service providers, non-profit organizations, government, businesses, and the faith community in Victoria, British Columbia. The Coalition has developed a Social Inclusion program to provide opportunities for those with lived experience to give input on the Coalition’s work. The program has had many iterations but has always held the core values of “nothing about us without us” and worked to ensure meaningful experiences through real contributions and compensating people for their time and expertise. Presenters will discuss the development of the Coalition’s inclusion principles and share the Coalition’s experience in engaging people with lived experience of homelessness.