Project Team

Dr. Eric Weissman

Dr. Eric Weissman is a sociology professor and researcher at the University of New Brunswick Saint John and the principal investigator on this project. He has been developing and applying a lived-experience form of scholarship to the study of homelessness, housing, mental health, and substance use in Canadian and US cities since 1999. Having recovered from the lived experience of episodic homelessness and severe Substance Use Disorder over 26 years ago, he is well familiar with the difficulty people have when trying to find and keep safe and stable housing, which is essential to addressing other health concerns and to the general well-being of communities. He has led a number of community-based research projects examining policies governing housing for vulnerable populations, published two books, presented at many international conferences, and speaks publicly about issues related to his research and lived experience. In 2017, he was honoured to contribute to the Indigenous Definition of Homelessness in Canada (Thistle, COH 2017), a policy piece now adopted widely by governments across Canada.

Dr. Weissman is a strong supporter of innovative approaches to social problems like addictions and homelessness and sits on a number of committees addressing the need for affordable housing alternatives, and harm reduction.

Kevin Friese

Kevin Friese is the Assistant Dean of Students, Health and Wellness at the University of Alberta. With over twenty years of experience in the field of health & wellness, Kevin has the privilege of leading a multidisciplinary team of health professionals that support a holistic approach to the well-being of students, their families, faculty, and staff at the U of A.  Kevin is the co-lead on the Homeless Student Initiative at the U of A that is dedicated to destigmatizing student precarity and addressing the systemic factors that perpetuate student precarity and homelessness at the university. He sits as a member on the Healthy Campus Alberta (HCA) Post-Secondary Mental Health Community of Practice and is the Chair of the Alberta Post-Secondary Health Association (APSHA).

Lisa Mader

Lisa Mader, MEd, CCC, RCT, is one of the co-investigators on this project. She is a counselling therapist, working with students at the Institute of Technology Campus, Nova Scotia Community College in Halifax, NS. In her sixteen years of counselling students, she has witnessed many students living precariously, or in unsafe housing conditions/circumstances. In 2018 Lisa conducted a Housing Needs Assessment and her findings supported piloting an Emergency Housing Program for NSCC students living in the Halifax Regional Municipality. The MEHP is still operating, and Lisa is hoping to help expand this across the other NSCC campuses in Nova Scotia. Lisa also has a private practice and teaches graduate-level counselling courses at Acadia University. She is a proud mother of two and enjoys the beach and cooking in her spare time.

Dr. Krista Robson

Dr. Krista Robson teaches Sociology at Red Deer Polytechnic. She teaches in the areas of criminology, aging, gender and poverty. Her past experience researching child support and parenting after divorce along with extensive experience supervising students conducting applied, community-based research are what drew her to contribute to this incredibly important collaborative initiative. 

Emily Berg

Emily Berg is a first-year master’s student at the University of Alberta, primarily studying the pathophysiology of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. She is also a research assistant on the Post-Secondary Student Homelessness project. She is a huge proponent of mental health and well-being, acting as an operational supervisor for a mental health organization and a crisis responder for over 3 years. This project highlights the stigma surrounding student homelessness and highlights an important gap in our current resources to attenuate this financial strain and benefit both physical and mental well-being. Having attended the UofA as both an undergraduate and graduate student, being a part of this national initiative aimed at protecting and supporting student well-being directly on campus is something she is extremely proud of and thankful to play a role in.

Jessie-Lynn Cross

Jessie-Lynn Cross is a recent graduate from Saint Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. After growing up in the child welfare system in Newfoundland and Labrador, Jessie-Lynn studied criminology and human rights, specializing in children and youth issues. While in university, she experienced housing insecurity as a result of neglectful practices within the child welfare system. Jessie-Lynn now uses her lived experience to research social issues that impact children, youth, and young adults that grew up in child welfare.

“When you see the systematic issues of homelessness in Canada, all you have to do is go upstream to find the child welfare system. They’re connected.” 

– Melanie Redman 

Rezvaneh Erfani

Rezvaneh Erfani is an SSHRC Canada Vanier scholar, Killam doctoral fellow, and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Alberta. Her doctoral research focuses on environmental and climate activism in the Middle East with special attention to gender, identity, and citizenship. Her involvement in research on housing started with working on Sustainable Housing, Sustainable Community: Edmonton’s North Glenora Housing Project as a research assistant under the supervision of Dr. Sara Dorow (Sociology) and Dr. Arlene Oak (Human Ecology). Through interviewing residents of the North Glenora housing project and helping to analyze interviews with various stakeholders in the community, she learned intensively about #EndHomelessness, #SustainableHousing, and #HousingForAll movements in Alberta and Canada both as an academic and an activist and found this journey as a grounding practice of her core values of social justice and equity. She is lucky to work as a research intern with the PSSH team where she learns from her PIs, colleagues, and participants every day.

Levis Kabahizi

Levis Kabahizi is a Black queer student that has recently graduated from the Red Deer Polytechnic with a Social Work Diploma. They are currently pursuing their Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Levis’s interest in research and their own experience with housing insecurity is what drew them to being part of the project.

Alacia Tshilombo

Alacia Tshilombo is a recent graduate of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a Black first-generation Canadian who has witnessed how lack of access to services has impacted many youths education, Alacia has always been very passionate about servicing underrepresented communities. This passion is shown by her previous experiences working with her student union, volunteering in labs, and her current work as a mental health worker for Indigenous communities. This project helps to highlight the pieces that institutions are missing and ensure an equal opportunity for all students. 

Jennifer Dann

Jennifer Dann, MA, MEd, BCBA, LABA, is a graduate research assistant for this project.  Jennifer is an interdisciplinary doctoral student at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John.  She is a licensed and certified behavior analyst whose clinical work supports autistic people and their families.  Her research interests include the intersections of disability studies, clinical practice, and the neurodiversity movement as studied through the lenses of psychology and sociology.  Jennifer is a queer parent and partner whose family identifies heavily with the disabled and neurodivergent communities.  She comes to this project with lived experience and over a decade of work in the field supporting historically marginalized people.  Jennifer’s participation in this project is motivated by a drive for both social justice and lasting change in the lives of people experiencing basic needs insecurity.

Kristen Byrne

Kristen is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland from the Faculty of Medicine (Division of Community Health and Humanities), obtaining a Master of Health Ethics (MHE). She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John. Her doctoral research focuses on the effects of the physical environment in urban settings on health outcomes in New Brunswick. Kristen is also the project manager of a federally funded project, International Migration and Urban Health Inequalities, with the Saint John Newcomers Centre. As a research assistant with the PSSH team, she is proud to be part of a national project that aims to “solve student housing issues in Canada”.