We get it: funding for professional development and training for frontline service providers in our sector is slim. When budgets are tight, it’s often the first thing to go out the window as we’re trying our best to give all our resources to the people we serve. And yet, professional development is what makes our organizations more sustainable. From starting new frontline staff on the right track, to engaging lifers to continually expand their learning, we understand that frontline organizations are in need of these resources.  

So when we, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, went to re-imagine and re-design the Community Workspace on Homelessness, we wanted to do it right. We set off on a journey by asking you, the homeless-serving community, what YOU needed to do your work and what we could do to support that. 

Three major learnings came out of our conversations with you:

  1. Frontline organizations are looking for ways to align themselves with changes in national priorities in the sector that they have helped shape. This means access to up-to-date and quality resources that support the work of frontline staff while also keeping up with evidence-based best practices from across Canada.
  2. Staff in frontline organizations don’t have a lot of time to find quality resources – their work is providing services on the ground. Any resource that is aimed at frontline service providers must be practical, relevant, and accessible. 
  3. Finally, when organizations are already restricted by time, they are looking for the best resources to guide their work, while also having space to share their own expertise. Organizations value peer-to-peer engagement as well as the chance to approach experts in the field who are informed by evidence-based research. 

All of these conversations have led to the creation of a FREE, curated professional development and community capacity building website for frontline organizations in the homeless-serving sector. 

illustrative and colourful icons of the features of the site

With that, we introduce the Homelessness Learning Hub (HLH). Based on the success of online open classrooms in other sectors, the HLH is an all new resource to support the work of frontline organizations in our sector. Some of the key features include:

  • Collections of practical resources organized into relevant courses tagged by priority areas (Prevention, Housing First, Data Management, Case Management, Coordinated Access, Systems Planning, and Reaching Home).
  • A wide range of resource types (toolkits, guides, webinars, factsheets, etc.) intended to present information in an accessible and practical way.
  • The ability to sort resources by audience type: Frontline staff, Managerial staff and Other.
  • An Ask an Expert feature that gives organizations the chance to request specific instruction and guidance from evidence-informed experts whose area for expertise is listed.
  • The ability to engage with peers in the sector who are doing similar work on the ground and can provide a breadth of first-hand knowledge while fostering a real sense of community through the Discussion Forums and community Events feature.

In the first phase of the launch, we are asking for feedback on website usability and sourcing our audiences for more quality resources. Do you know of a great resource that would be perfect for the Homelessness Learning Hub? Send it over! 

We’re excited for the potential the HLH has for our community and look forward to your engagement and feedback to make it even better. Stay tuned for more exciting features to come!

Funded by the Government of Canada through the Community Capacity and Innovation funding stream of Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.