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Metcalf Innovation Fellow Dr. Sarah Schulman Shares Her “Grounded” Approach

Drop-in centres are a vital resource for street-involved adults. They help address the immediate needs of people without stable shelter, and help them on their paths to establishing more permanent housing. But while the experiences of drop-in centre users—and the resources available to them—vary greatly based on individual needs and geographic location, policy decisions on homelessness and service delivery are often made using aggregate data drawn from national sources.

Grounded is a new online platform that provides policy makers with a clearer picture of the lived experiences of individual drop-in users. Led by Metcalf Innovation Fellow Dr. Sarah Schulman and based on findings from interviews with users of the West Neighbourhood House, Grounded incorporates a rich variety of personal stories, videos, infographics, and statistics in its mission to inform drop-in service delivery and ultimately inspire cultural change.

Grounded is the latest intervention from In/Out, a partnership project between West Neighbourhood House and InWithForward that is supported by Metcalf and United Way Toronto. Since the project’s inception in November 2015, the In/Out team has used their website to share their successes, address roadblocks, and discuss the theoretical frameworks that led to the creation of Grounded and other endeavours.

Last month, In/Out shared two blogs posts that explored the value of storytelling and “small data” and the challenges they faced when introducing Grounded to an audience of civil servants. The team is currently testing Grounded among a broader range of audiences to best determine how their new tool can lead to more specialized and supportive services for those without stable housing.


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