Researching the needs of frontline staff in the homelessness sector

We researched the needs of frontline staff in the homelessness support sector and identified opportunities to improve employment and workplace conditions in the sector.


Government of Canada, Reaching Home


Mix-methods research
Rapid literature review
Survey, Interview


Report with Recommendations

About the Project

Frontline workers play a key role in ending homelessness, but do they get enough support to do their jobs? With funding from the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home, we conducted an evaluation to answer this question and others. Our research aimed to better understand the employment and working conditions in the sector, including how the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened conditions and created new challenges.

What We Did

We used a mixed-methods research approach to collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data for this study. A rapid literature review explored existing research on the employment and working conditions in the sector, as well as the challenges experienced by frontline staff. A review of job advertisements was conducted to examine key skills and training required to work in the sector. A cross-sectional national survey was distributed to frontline workers, and interviews were conducted with Executive Directors of homeless-serving organizations across Canada.


Our research found that precarious employment, high employee turnover, and low employee retention are major challenges in the homelessness support sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges and also introduced new ones related to safety, training, personal protective equipment, and fair compensation. Based on the findings, we highlighted eight opportunities for future research and exploration.

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