Waldo 101: Mapping the Intersections of Space, Place, and Gender in the Lives of Ten Homeless Youth - Homeless Hub Research Summary Series

The childhood favourite “Where’s Waldo?” can teach us three lessons. The first is that in public spaces we are nearly always seen, even when we do not want to be – homeless youth understand this, trying to blend into the background at certain times, while drawing attention to themselves at others. Second, where one stands largely determines whether one will be seen – in some places and spaces favoured by homeless youth, like parks, social service agencies, and street corners, it is nearly impossible to be hidden. Third, Waldo’s unmatched access to hiding spaces is largely the result of his being male. On the street, homeless men have considerably more freedom of movement than their female peers. Based on research with homeless youth and considering these combined lessons there is a need for services that are spread throughout the city, initiatives that reduce stigma, improved police engagement, and additional supports for women and the dogs that frequently travel with them.

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Gaetz, S., O’Grady, B., Buccieri, K., Karabanow, J., & Marsolais, A. (Eds.), Youth Homelessness in Canada: Implications for Policy and Practice. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.

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