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Lakehead University researchers will study migration of the homeless to Thunder Bay

The project could lead to changes in existing programs and government funding.

THUNDER BAY — More than 60 per cent of the homeless population in Thunder Bay moved to the city from other provinces.

That's according to research data obtained by the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board.

Now it's partnering with a Lakehead University-led team that will look into why these people relocated to Thunder Bay, why they chose to stay here, and what factors predict if they ultimately stay or leave.

The project has received $22,000 in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Ravi Gokani, assistant professor in Lakehead's School of Social Work, says "The migration of people into Thunder Bay has resulted in an increase in the homeless population and thus an increase in the need for programs and funding."

Gokani said the social services board is looking for an evidence base that can be used to modify existing policies and programs, as well as lobby the Ontario government for changes to existing provincial policies and funding decisions.

He'll be working with two co-investigators from Lakehead and one from Calgary's Mount Royal University.

LU researchers are receiving a total of more than $800,000 in new funding from the SSHRC.

Among numerous other projects, Charles Levkoe, associate professor in Health Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems, will lead the design of a Thunder Bay and area food systems report card.

The work will be conducted in partnership with the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy in collaboration with several partners including EcoSuperior, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, and the Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre.

"Together, we will establish a set of indicators to document the status of the region's food system, compare the results with 2015 data, and gather anecdotes from successful initiatives," Levkoe said.

Andrew Dean, Lakehead's vice-president/Research and Innovation, thanked the SSHRC for its continued support, saying the information obtained through these grants will have tangible outcomes for the community.



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