Renee Robinson and Karen Rempel of Brandon University were both awarded federal grants to study homelessness. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Two university researchers have taken on a topic that has become an increasing concern in Brandon — homelessness.
"A big challenge is for women and children. People who are coming as families to Brandon, and there’s just no housing," said Renee Robinson of Brandon University’s School of Health Studies. "From what I’m hearing is that frequently families have to be split up. People have to find somebody to take the kids because they can’t find housing for the family. That’s a major concern."
Robinson has been awarded a $31,000 federal grant for her research entitled "Housing and Support in the Community of Choice."
"The study itself is trying to provide opportunities to support people in the community that they’re choosing to live in right now," Robinson said.
"People find themselves moving to places… there’s something in their home community that’s not working for them whether it’s lack of education … or lack of employment opportunities, even if people are fleeing domestic violence."
Robinson said those very factors that are driving people out of their communities also make them highly vulnerable when they move. The study will look at what supports would help people wanting to stay in their home community.
"But if Brandon is the right place for them, then how do we help them to settle effectively in Brandon?" Robinson said.
Work has already begun on Robinson’s project, with a number of organizations collecting information on people seeking shelter, including the Canadian Mental Health Association, 7th Street Health Access Centre, Youth for Christ and Brandon Friendship Centre.
Meanwhile, Karen Rempel of the faculty of education has been awarded a $72,000 grant for her homelessness research. She plans to explore the factors that contribute to youth at-risk mobility in rural and remote Manitoba communities.
"These are the kids that are very susceptible to homelessness, really fall underneath the radar of everyone," Rempel said.
"What we’d like to do is get patterns of mobility so that we can better target the programs and services."
Rempel’s research has already begun, with data gathered from 12 rural communities in close proximity Brandon.
"If we can find those patterns of mobility, instead of having a provincial-wide program, we can better target resources for the areas where kids are the most mobile," Rempel said.
"We know that there’s lots of movement of kids from rural communities into Brandon and back out again … but again, they’re a hidden population."
Both projects are expected to take a year to complete.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 8, 2012