Aging in the right place involves supporting older adults to live as long as possible in their homes and communities. It also recognizes that where an older person lives must match their lifestyles and vulnerabilities for them to age optimally. Despite this, Canada’s older homeless population is increasing at alarming rates and remains largely invisible in research, policy and practice.
The Aging in the Right Place Partnership seeks to improve shelter and housing options for older people experiencing homelessness. Over 5 years, it will evaluate promising shelter and housing practices for older people and share them nationally and internationally. It will also promote collaboration, build partnerships across disciplines and provide important insights into approaches to housing and aging.
3 Key Goals
Conduct systematic evaluation of promising practices to determine what works, why and for whom.
Create interdisciplinary partnerships between researchers and non-academic partners, such as municipal planners and housing providers.
Improve housing and shelter outcomes to meet the unique health and social needs of older people experiencing homelessness.
Project scope and expected outcomes
The Aging in the Right Place Partnership
In 2019, the Aging in the Right Place (AIRP) Partnership performed a community-based participatory research study across three cities. Its goal was to identify and understand promising practices for supporting older people experiencing homelessness in Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver. “Promising practices” are solutions that have not been rigourously evaluated, but that show potential for supporting older people experiencing homelessness.
Several key themes emerged from this research. The first was that there is no single housing or shelter solution. Another was that human rights-based approaches are crucial for reaching older people experiencing homelessness with effective solutions. A third was that those most at-risk for housing insecurity have intersecting risk, such as gender, sexual orientation and race/ethnicity. Despite this, there has been limited evaluation of what works, why and for whom.
Improving housing outcomes for older people experiencing homelessness
The AIRP Partnership is one of 5 research programs that comprise the Collaborative Housing Research Network (CHRN). It will build on the AIRP Partnership’s research to improve housing and shelter outcomes for older people experiencing homelessness. In doing so, it will respond to several National Housing Strategy priority areas. This includes Housing for those in Greatest Need, Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Community Housing Sustainability.
Over the next 5 years, the program will seek to accomplish this through three main objectives:
- Evaluate promising practices of shelter or housing for older people experiencing homelessness. This will determine which promote aging in the right place, their characteristics and the groups for which they work. Ultimately, the AIRP Partnership hopes to make recommendations for expanding promising practices locally or enabling their adaptation in other communities.
- Train a new generation of scholars. These new scholars will develop advanced research skills and lines of inquiry on homelessness, housing and aging research.
- Facilitate knowledge mobilization around promising practices for older people experiencing homelessness in Canada and internationally. Increase public awareness of this group and perceptions of aging in the right place. This will be done through public lectures, media, interviews, publications and photo exhibits.
The program will conduct evaluations of 11 promising practices across the shelter/housing continuum in Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver. This will be done through a community-based participatory research approach. Program evaluations also will collect similar data across the evaluation sites for cross-site comparison. This research will enable the program to develop approaches to establish which promising practices are working, why and for whom.
New empirical insight
The AIRP Partnership has grown to include the project director and 13 team members, 15 collaborators and 40 partner organizations. Throughout the program, these partners will produce new empirical insight into housing, aging and support for older people experiencing homelessness. The program’s focus on evaluating evidence-based interventions for older people experiencing homelessness also will make significant contributions to academic literature.
Since the program will include non-academic partners, it will build partnerships across disciplines throughout the research. The knowledge generated will help to bridge the gap between research and impact on housing. The Partnership’s findings also will inform the National Housing Strategy through evidence-based policy that promotes aging in the right place.
Project Team: Dr. Sarah Canham
Lead Project Coordinator: Mariam Larson
Location: Simon Fraser University
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