Research is being done across Canada to get a more accurate picture of homelessness – with a forum lined up for North Bay on Thursday.
One of the scientists involved is Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, Assistant Scientific Director at Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario.
She says homelessness is not only happening in larger cities, it’s happening in smaller communities, too.
So far they’ve visited 28 communities and Forchuk says they were originally only going to go to ten or 12 larger centres.
“We actually had nearby rural communities, practically begging us to come, saying you need to see what’s going on here. We’ve never had a homeless problem before, we don’t even have a shelter or a homeless agency and now we’re dealing with this problem, we need to be included,” she says.
Forchuk says they’re hearing a number of things from communities.
“There’s kind of a migratory pattern where people are coming in from the smaller communities, which is increasing numbers,” she says. “We’re hearing that people are seeing a lot of first-time homeless more so than what they have in the past. And no surprise to anybody the rental market is getting really difficult.”
The research team is also looking to help work towards more targeted services and more access to services.
Forchuk says they’ve interviewed over 400 people across Canada with lived experience in homelessness.
“What kind of services do they need, what works well when they are homeless and what are the things that stop them from moving on,” she says.
The research team wants to hear from those with lived experience in homelessness, various agencies involved, and local politicians and decision-makers.
The session runs from 9 am to 3 pm at the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre.
It’s one of six forums being held in Ontario, with others taking place in Thunder Bay, Kingston, Chatham-Kent, London and Brantford.
These will be followed by future workshops in various locations across Canada.