2015 Torontonians of the Year: Dr. Stephen Gaetz, youth homelessness researcher

Stephen Gaetz, professor

Stephen Gaetz is an anthropologist at York University, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and president of Raising the Roof. His leading research on youth homelessness continues to affect Canadian policy, programs and the response to homelessness.

“One of the strengths of York U is community engagement and working with government of all levels to impact policy. It’s an important function of research to effect change on homelessness. Research can make things matter,” he says. 

On Nov. 16, Gaetz was among five scholars to receive a 2015 Impact Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. His Connection Award honours the work he does to engage the community in his projects. In particular, his online Homeless Hub is a one-of-a-kind meeting place for researchers from all disciplines to share their knowledge with the intent of finding solutions.   

Gaetz was also part of a 13-member panel of experts selected by the Ontario government in January to address the homelessness situation. Based on the panel’s recommendations, the Ontario government followed up in October with a 10-year plan to solve homelessness.

“My argument is that we need to shift our focus from managing the crisis through emergency services to move more toward prevention and helping those who are homeless move into housing with supports as quickly as possible,” says Gaetz. 

”A Way Home is a great new response,” Gaetz adds. It’s a national coalition dedicated to planning, preventing, reducing and ending youth homelessness in Canada, and the U.S. is adopting this approach as well.   

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO