Community Voices: Insights on Social and Human services from People with Lived Experiences of Homelessness


  • Christine Ann Walsh University of Calgary
  • Liza Lorenzetti Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
  • Natalie St-Denis Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
  • Percy Murwisi
  • TracyRay Lewis



Homelessness, Human rights, Participatory action research, Services, Social work.


Community Voices is a participatory action research study conducted in collaboration with people with lived experiences of homelessness in Calgary, Alberta to gather insights into service provision. Following convenience and snowball recruitment strategies, seven focus groups with members of the homeless community were conducted by trained facilitators. Participants and other community members were invited as co-researchers to analyze focus group transcripts, highlight key issues, develop themes and recommendations, and share key findings with stakeholders. Study findings suggest that people who are homeless experience oppression at the personal, cultural and structural levels which make it less likely for them to exit homelessness. Our findings suggests that a housing first approach coupled with intensive personalized case management embedded within a human rights framework has the capacity to reduce homelessness and overcome the barriers that prevent individuals from exiting homelessness. Such interventions, however, require substantial investment to increase the stock of affordable housing units, improve current shelter facilities, and educate personnel in anti-oppressive practices and a political commitment to recognize housing as a human right.

Author Biography

Christine Ann Walsh, University of Calgary

Professor, Faculty of Social Work


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