Sign up for our e-newsletter here

FV Research

Fred Victor sometimes works with other organizations to research subjects that are closely related to our work with people who are homeless and living in poverty.  Here are some summaries and links to samples of research we have completed in recent years. Our research often pushes the boundaries of more commonly-accepted ideas or ways of doing things.

Notes from the Forum on Toronto Shelter System 2020

compiled by Mandy Ashton
June 2013

Throughout 2013, Change Toronto has hosted a series of events about the future of Toronto and efforts that can be made now to address social challenges such as homelessness, poverty and unemployment by 2020. The notes linked here were from the second forum in this series focused on the homeless shelter system and what the system could look like in 2020. The forum was held on June 18, 2013 and close to 80 representatives from a wide range of health and social services, shelter and housing agencies across the GTA attended.

Read more about Shelters 2020 (PDF). 

Towards Effective Strategies for Harm Reduction Housing

By Fred Victor and Jim Ward Associates
July 2009

This project represents an important first step in understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of shared accommodation for individuals who are using substances (drugs, alcohol and other stuff).  

The project concludes that housing and social service organizations, policy makers and/or research institutes should do more research. 

The research should focus on “Housing First models” — that is, the idea that a person who is using substances will only improve their health and get a handle on their addiction if they are housed.  And further, the focus on Housing First models should research the relative strengths of the scatter-site and single-site models for supporting people dealing with substance use issues.

Read the “Towards Effective Strategies…” study (PDF)

Hidden: Newcomer experiences of homelessness at Fred Victor and The Learning Enrichment Foundation

by Teya Greenberg and Elia Martinez-Reyes
For the Learning Enrichment Foundation and Fred Victor
Funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada
July 29, 2010

This timely, collaborative report comes up with several important recommendations for Fred Victor and for the Learning Enrichment Foundation to prevent new Canadians from becoming homeless. Here are just a handful of their recommendations:

  1. Develop partnerships between housing/homelessness and settlement services.
  2. Foster working relationships to share expertise, resources and referrals between housing/homelessness and settlement services
  3. Make improvements to the services at Fred Victor programs where there are significant numbers of newcomers using them… the Women’s Day Program, for example.
  4. Develop culturally appropriate mental health education and awareness programming in FV programs.
  5. Provide in-depth housing access information as part of FV employment and training programs.

Read Newcomer experiences of homelessness at Fred Victor and the Learning Enrichment Foundation (PDF)

Health Issues, Health Care Service Needs, and Drug Use of the Community Who Use Fred Victor

by Fred Victor
Kirsten Schmidt-Chamberlain
August 2007
In July 2007, a team of interviewers from Fred Victor undertook the task of conducting individual interviews with community members and tenants of Fred Victor downtown services. This study was initiated to better understand the health service and information needs of the community with the specific intention of identifying how Fred Victor could better meet these needs. We adopted the World Health Organizations definition of health – health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO, 2007). Further, we have considered the following social determinants of health (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2007):

  • social inclusion and exclusion
  • income inequality
  • employment and job security
  • working conditions
  • contribution of the social economy
  • education
  • food security
  • housing

Read the full report here (PDF)

Paws for Thought

Fred Victor and Street Health
May 2005

(article below reprinted from FVC News, Fall 2005)

“We often forget that it's really the small things that keep people housed and healthy," says Community Development Co-ordinator Enza Trentadue. This past spring, Enza and Fiona Husband and Paula Tookey of Street Health, cobbled together funds and gathered some talented Fred Victor Camera Club members for a unique purpose. They would take to the streets and through conversation and photography explore the meaning of pets in the lives of people who are homeless or living in transitional housing.

The results of the study -- dubbed "Paws for Thought" -- are compelling, both from a visual and research point of view.

Interviews with pet owners were transcribed.  Here are some of the things they said:

I would be lost if I didn’t have no animals.  I wouldn’t be the same person…
He got me grounded.  One reason my pet is in my life is that I will never be irresponsible enough to go homeless again.  Like I’ve had shelter before and I’ve blown my rent on crack.  I cannot go homeless again because I’ve got him to take care of…

Oh I think she keeps me from being alone, that’s one of the things…to not think about yourself sometimes.  Especially with the pain I’m in.

With a sampling of 11 people, it is a very modest study, but the response to it has been considerable.

In May 2005, York University hosted “Stories, Research and Solutions”, the first-ever national conference on homelessness. “Paws for Thought”, a photo-journalistic study on the effects of pets in the lives of homeless and marginalized people, was presented to conference participants.

Since then, there have been four other occasions to show the photographic display and text that tells the story.  It has been presented at Fred Victor's Annual General Meeting on June 16; at "Pets Launch" in August (a day sponsored by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to raise awareness of the importance of pets to mental health patients); at the International Conference on Urban Health sponsored by St. Michael’s Hospital in October; and again for the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in November.

Researchers, doctors, health professionals and policy makers from around the world have received the study with a great deal of interest and responded very positively to it.

Why are people so interested in this subject right now? There have been many studies on the positive health effects of the bond between pets and their owners that address both youth and seniors.  But, until very recently, there has been no research on this subject in relation to homeless and low-income people.

Fred Victor and Street Health’s innovative study adds fresh insight into the growing body of material on the subject. And, not surprisingly, it confirms that pets create a loving reciprocity between two beings that can break through social isolation, act as a tool for harm reduction and nurture individuals whose lives are narrowed by poverty and pain.

Click here to go back to the top of the page