Connection Award: Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz

Connection award:

Stephen Gaetz

York University


York University’s Stephen Gaetz, winner of the 2015 Connection Award, is an influential researcher whose foundational work on homelessness has shaped government policy and practice, both in Canada and internationally.

A professor of education, Gaetz leads the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), as well as the renowned Homeless Hub—the world’s first comprehensive and cross-disciplinary web-based clearinghouse of homelessness research. Together with COH team members Bill O’Grady (University of Guelph), Paula Goering (University of Toronto), Melanie Redman (Eva’s Initiatives) and Tim Richter (Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness), Gaetz has produced research used by municipal and provincial governments across the country to develop new models of homelessness prevention, accommodation and support.

Gaetz has brought homelessness research—and its key issues—to a broad audience of students, scholars and community leaders, as well as key decision-makers in government. Through his early adoption and strategic use of social media, he not only helped establish the field, but also inspired researchers across Canada to mobilize research knowledge so that it has a greater impact on homelessness policies and planning.

About the award

The annual Impact Awards recognize the highest achievements in SSHRC-funded research, knowledge mobilization and scholarship.

SSHRC’s Connection Award recognizes an outstanding individual or team whose project has engaged campus and community and led to intellectual, cultural, social or economic impacts.

Stephen Gaetz shares his thoughts on critical issues in his field, research funding and the role of the social sciences and humanities in shaping Canada’s future:

What aspect of your research is most crucial for Canadians to better understand?

The key thing to note is that our current response to homelessness is not “ok.” Housing is not a commodity—it is a human right.

Research plays an important role in highlighting—for policy-makers and practitioners—the need to shift from managing the problem of homelessness, to moving to prevent, reduce and end homelessness. And we are now getting traction with policy-makers and practitioners in Canada.

How has SSHRC funding affected your career and research?

SSHRC funding has been crucial. It underlies and supports the work of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (formerly, the Canadian Homelessness Research Network) and the Homeless Hub.

In what area do you see the greatest potential for social sciences and humanities research to make a greater contribution to knowledge?

We have to get better at knowledge mobilization. We have to break out of traditional modes of creating, producing and disseminating research. We are developing the tools and strategies, and the next stage is to work on mobilizing this knowledge.