Skip to main content

From NIMBY to Neighbour: Brokering a dialogue about homelessness among people experiencing homelessness, law enforcement, and the community

With approximately 35,000 people experiencing homelessness each night (Gaetz et al., 2016) homelessness is a growing crisis effecting communities across Canada. However, there are unique challenges in mid-sized cities, where the visibility of homelessness is often a relatively new phenomenon, and the demand by community members to 'do something' comes up against the rights and needs of people experiencing homelessness. Too often police are called to manage the optics of homelessness, particularly in commercial areas. These interventions lead to what are at best band-aid solutions to systemic problems. At worst, they criminalize and further marginalize people experiencing homelessness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the pre-existing inequity between people who are homeless and the communities they live in. More people are at risk of experiencing homelessness, fewer housed people are circulating within urban centres while people who are homeless have lost access to drop-in spaces, and more visible encampments exist as a result of significantly reduced capacity in shelters and outbreaks within shelters. All of this has resulted in come cases greater tension in communities regarding people who are homeless, but it also acts as an opportunity to change the narrative on homelessness as the structural and systemic problems people who are homeless face becomes clear to the community, and more people who were once comfortable housed experience precarious housing themselves.

The purpose of the From NIMBY to Neighbour study is to interrogate perceptions about people experiencing homelessness as inherently deviant and dangerous, and build a new narrative premised on knowledge sharing and enhancing community resiliency.


Fostering Inclusive Community Responses to Homelessness Workshop

Most research to date on homelessness has focused on large urban centres. As a results, mid-sized cities (population 50,000 to 500,000) struggle to develop evidence-informed policies and practicies that are appropriate for their resources and contexts. With this in mind, the Centre for Resarch on Security Pratices and the NIMBY to Neighbour research team hosted a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded worksghop on September 29th, 2022. This workshop was designed to address the challenges facing mid-sized cities and was guided by the following objectives:

  • Sharing scholarly analyses of issues concerning homelessness in mid-sized cities with respect to enhancing community building and social inclusion.
  • Identifying research gaps and developing a national research network of scholars in the field of homelessness, mid-sized communities, and community building.
  • Sharing learnings from the workshop with key stakeholders and the public.

Resources from the workshop can be found below. Note that additional outputs stemming from the workshop will be added to this site as they are completed.

Contact Us:

Carrie Sanders, Director

Bree Akesson, Associate Director

Samantha Henderson, Project Coordinator

T: 519.756.8228 x5376