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Best Practices for Working with Homeless Immigrants and Refugees (2003)

Posted on:
June 4, 2022

This community-based research project aims to document the experiences of adult immigrant single men and women who have used shelters and drop-in centres in Toronto, ON and to develop best practices based what was learned in this research phase of the project. The project generated 11 findings and 21 recommendations for addressing housing, homelessness and access to services for immigrants and refugees, and the needs of the service providers who work with them. The findings and recommendations are organized into eight themes: socio-economic status, housing and homelessness, shelter and drop-in services, language, discrimination, coordination of services, training, and future research and funding.

"Immigrants and refugees in Toronto, particularly refugee claimants, are at-risk for homelessness. As a result, increasing numbers of immigrants and refugees are requiring shelter, drop-in and other housing services. The needs of immigrants and refugees who have become homeless may be different than those who are Canadian-born. Newcomers may be adjusting to a new language and culture and may also face unique challenges with respect to employment, health and legal issues. However, most shelters and drop-ins are not mandated to meet the needs of immigrants and refugees who have become homeless. Most shelter and drop-in staff lack the time, skills or resources to effectively house and settle newcomers. Moreover, there have been few systemic attempts to develop shelter and drop-in services that are accessible, appropriate, and responsive to the needs of this population.

Best Practices for Working with Homeless Immigrants and Refugees is a community-based action-research project sponsored by Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Centre and funded by the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) with the following objectives:

  • Document the experiences of adult immigrants and refugees who have used single men’s and women’s shelters and drop-ins (i.e. “visibly” homeless) in downtown Toronto.
  • Develop best practices among shelter and drop-in staff for working with immigrants and refugees.
  • Facilitate the linking of shelters/drop-ins with health, settlement, legal and community-based social services.

The specific goals of Phase I, the research phase, were to:

  • Interview adult immigrants and refugees who have used single men’s and women’s shelters and drop-ins in downtown Toronto.
  • Interview shelter and drop-in staff to identify the service needs of homeless immigrants and refugees.
  • Conduct focus groups with staff from settlement agencies, community legal clinics and community health centres to identify ways to strengthen links with shelters and drop-ins.
  • Develop an analysis of the rules and practices that inhibit access to services for homeless immigrants and refugees.
  • Develop recommendations for increasing access and improving services.
  • Develop and disseminate the research report 'Best Practices for Working with Homeless Immigrants and Refugees.'"

Best Practices for Working with Homeless Immigrants and Refugees (2003)
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Summary

This community-based research project aims to document the experiences of adult immigrant single men and women who have used shelters and drop-in centres in Toronto, ON and to develop best practices based what was learned in this research phase of the project.
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