“Everyone was looking around and observing homelessness getting worse, while communities scrambled to implement this new process, which did not appear to be addressing an acute and deepening housing affordability crisis,” said Trent Associate Professor and Canadian Research Chair in Community-Partnered Social Justice, Dr. Naomi Nichols.
Stay in Line is a zine created in May 2023, by Professor Nichols’ Research for Social Change Lab. The project highlights the experiences of individuals dealing with Coordinated Access, the system for addressing homelessness mandated by the federal government.
The zine is part of the “In Line” series and is the follow-up to Get in Line, which was created in April 2022. Get in Line acts as a guidebook to assist with navigating the Coordinated Access system. The Research for Social Change Lab started researching the topic after hearing about community struggles with the system.
“We set out to research this topic because members of our lived experience team had participated in Coordinated Access but waited over a year to get housing. Service providers had expressed concerns about a lack of transparency and a heavily bureaucratized process,” said Prof. Nichols.
Stay in Line follows a similar aesthetic and feel to Get in Line, but it is intended to convey the lab’s findings on how the system is currently functioning, with profiles of community members.
“Get in Line illustrates how Coordinated Access is intended to work; and Stay in Line explains how it is actually experienced by those who are seeking housing and those who are trusted to implement the coordinated system,” said Prof. Nichols. “In this way, Stay in Line conveys our assessment of whether Coordinated Access is working as designed.”
The group decided on presenting this research in the form of zines because of how easily they can be produced and distributed to the community.
“We aren't doing any of this research simply because we are researchers; we are doing this research in the hope that we can shine a spotlight on inequities, reduce harms, and inform better fairer strategies for addressing housing and other intersecting forms of injustice,” Prof. Nichols said, while explaining why zines were chosen as the medium for this research. “Research communications have to be accessible. For this reason, we engage in academic writing, research briefs, op-ed style pieces in the Conversation, media interviews, podcasts, zines, conference presentations -- you name it; we will try it!”
The Research for Social Change Lab has written multiple zines and is publishing a new one each week, focusing on issues pertaining to homelessness in Peterborough.
Read more on homelessness from the Research for Social Change Lab.