Bringing communities together to promote health equity & inclusion through collaborative research for action.


Peer Driven Work

The following is a reflection by Kaitlyn Widdup, CRHESI Student Collective, Community-Engaged Learning Placement, Bachelor of Health Sciences student, Western University.

I had little knowledge of community-based research and peer support in regard to health and homelessness when I began my placement with CRHESI. I spent quite a bit of time researching peer supports, specifically how their lived experiences make them uniquely valuable to those experiencing homelessness.

I felt nervous about attending our first team planning meeting for this event, but my nerves immediately disappeared because the team members were very welcoming and supportive of my role as a CEL student. The peer work discussions were enriching and contributed to the creation of an amazing event with incredible and open conversations on some of the challenges, rewards, and barriers encountered in peer work.

December 20, 2023

Food Insecurity Affects Us All

This series on food insecurity aims to provide a snapshot and raise awareness about the state of food insecurity in London, focusing on both the stories of students at Western University and the experiences of our local London community.

  1. Debunking Myths
  2. Food Insecurity: A Hidden Issue on Campus
  3. A Conversation about Food Insecurity at Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre in London Ontario
  4. System Level Solutions Needed to Address Food Insecurity

This series was developed by Samantha Campanella and Hooria Haider, Western University, Health Sciences Students, Community Engaged Learning placement with CRHESI. Christine Garinger, CRHESI Coordinator, edited the series.

August 15, 2023

CRHESI Interview: Safe Drug Use Sites Hold the Potential for Transformation

In an effort to understand the human impacts of the Temporary Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS) on those who used the facility, a collaborative project was undertaken by researchers from CRHESI and the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU). Team members were former CRHESI Academic Director, Helene Berman, Michelle Sangster Bouck (MLHU), Abe Oudshoorn (Western), Melissa McCann (MLHU), Shamiram Zendo (Western), Jordan Banninga (MLHU), Marlene Janzen Le Ber (Brescia) and Zayya Zendo (Western).

March 16, 2023

Why we Need Trauma- and Violence-Informed Maternal and Child Health Services: New Research from Rwanda and Local Implications

Aimable Nkurunziza, Ph.D. Candidate (Nursing, Western University) and Berman Family Graduate Award Holder

February 22, 2023

EQUIPping London’s Health and Social Services for Equity

This 3-part series explores substance use stigma and the ways that health and social service providers can improve care. The series includes:

This series was developed by Samantha Campanella and Hooria Haider, Western University, Health Sciences Students, Community Engaged Learning placement with CRHESI.

December 15, 2022

Evolving a More Socially Conscious Medical School Curriculum

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

by Hooria Haider, Western University, Community Engaged Learning student, Health Sciences, Honours Specialization in Health Sciences with Biology

December 8, 2022

Our Commitment to Confronting Anti-Black Racism

The Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion (CRHESI) stands in solidarity with those who are speaking out and calling for the elimination of anti-Black racism in Canada and around the world. We recognize the deeply embedded racism that exists at all levels and across all sectors, in Canada, in Ontario, and in London.  We are firmly opposed to the rationalization, minimization, or denial of racism and its impacts on racialized groups and our society as a whole. 

June 26, 2020

Solutions to Homelessness – Lunch Talk at Innovation Works

CRHESI members, Dr. Abe Oudshoorn and Jule Ryan spoke to Innovation Works co-tenants during a Brown Bag lunch talk this month on Solutions to Homelessness in London.  

Abe’s past clinical work as a community nurse provided the base for his research agenda and desire to work at a higher level, aiming to transform systems to end homelessness in London, Canada and beyond. 

 Historical context on homelessness:

  • Pre WWII, housing instability meant the use of informal dwellings, people built their own shelters, such as shacks (around Carling Heights for example). 
  • Post WWII, around 1965, public, social housing was introduced. 
  • Government built and funded the number of units needed to meet the need at that time. These structures built in 1970’s are the same structures still in use in London today.  
  • Rent was geared to income (30%). 
  • 1980’s: Housing construction stopped in Canada–Global financial crisis + conservative governments = stop spending 
    • Abe noted that in the 2006-2015 era, PM Harper flipped this austerity practice and instead encouraged gov spending to stimulate the economy  
  • Late 1980’s, the first concerns were noted in the House of Parliament about homeless constituents 
  • 1990’s: Canada builds shelters (such as Salvation Army, Mission Services, domestic violence shelters)
    • Abe says: It’s good that we care! But, systemically not good, as shelter living has many deleterious effects and if it is the default solution, people are unwell, unhealthy
  • 2004: Centre of Hope is built, which increased beds but they are filled and the need keeps increasing. 
  • 2008-2016: We introduce the Housing First model: ‘rehouse’ people with supports
  • 2016: With a 4.5 % vacancy rate and more new building, 200 people are rehoused and Centre of Hope transitions some space to rental rooms for substance use recovery. 
  • 2018: We hit a brick wall.  The vacancy rate in London dives and capacity for supporting homeless people is maxed out.  Add in a depressed housing market in London 
  • 2021: London is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada which means high competition in the housing market. 

There are many, too many stories and examples of people losing their housing due to bad faith evictions. 

Study: A portrait of Canadians who have been homeless

“Although a minority of Canadians experience homelessness at a certain point in their life, some groups are at an elevated risk, including sexual minorities, Indigenous people and Black women.

These results are from a new Insights on Canadian Society article released today, “A portrait of Canadians who have been homeless.”

Using data from the 2018 Canadian Housing Survey, the study examines the characteristics of individuals who had previously experienced homelessness.

It also examines the current well-being of these individuals. While the experience of homelessness has immediate detrimental impacts on individuals, those who experienced homelessness in the past are more likely to have poor health and financial difficulties in their present situation.

Given the nature of the data, the results of this study are representative of Canadians who are housing decision makers within their households, but not necessarily of all Canadians aged 15 and older. Despite this limitation, the results of this study contribute significantly to our understanding of this social issue in Canada, particularly because information on unsheltered homelessness is very scarce…” Read full article here


Study Links Lower COVID Vaccine Rates and Homelessness

“In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine coverage among adults with a recent history of homelessness has lagged and, as of Sept 30, 2021, was 25 percentage points lower than that of the general adult population in Ontario for a first dose and 34 percentage points lower for a second dose. With high usage of outpatient health services among individuals with a recent history of homelessness, better utilisation of outpatient primary care structures might offer an opportunity to increase vaccine coverage in this population. Our findings underscore the importance of leveraging existing health and service organisations that are accessed and trusted by people who experience homelessness for targeted vaccine delivery.” Shariff et al., 2022

Read the full journal article

Read Western News article