Evidence suggests that the most successful responses to homelessness are strategic and coordinated, placing a much greater emphasis on prevention and moving people out of homelessness as quickly as possible. This means the coordination and integration of programs, services and service delivery systems (both within and external to the homelessness sector) at every level – from policy, to intake, to service provision, to client flow – are based on client needs. Systems responses to service integration, which originated in the mental health and addictions field through the ‘systems of care’ approach, have been proven effective in addressing homelessness in numerous communities internationally and in Canada.
However, widespread adoption of this strategic approach has been hindered by a lack of conceptual and instrumental research that would allow communities to apply and adapt such learnings. Our focus is on uncovering, reviewing and evaluating the key features of systems responses to homelessness in Canada and internationally in order to assess the adaptability of these models to different community and policy contexts in Canada.