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Working With Homeless and Vulnerable People

Basic Skills and Practices

Jeanette Waegemakers Schiff

Publication Date - 01 July 2015

ISBN: 9780190615574

412 pages
6.1 x 9.1 inches


It has long been established that access to food, clothing, medical care, and housing are fundamental human rights the world over. Helping the approximately 600,000 Americans and 300,000 Canadians who are currently homeless work toward this goal is a complex undertaking. This text presents the fundamental knowledge and skills that frontline workers need in order to help vulnerable and homeless persons. It provides readers with both an understanding of the lived experiences of those who have faced homelessness and an outline of the interprofessional practice context of services for homeless people. Waegemakers Schiff focuses on the interventions and best practices that have been found to be most effective in making connections, establishing helping relationships, and working with individuals on moving toward stabilization.


  • in-depth discussions of the housing first philosophy, trauma-informed care, health, mental health, and substance abuse
  • exploration of some of the differences between American and Canadian practice situations
  • journaling activities following every chapter to encourage reflection and critical engagement
  • central discussion on self-care and avoiding burnout

About the Author(s)

Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff ( MSW, University of Toronto; PhD, Columbia University) is associate professor of social work at the University of Calgary with a background in clinical and organizational services and teaching courses in mental health, addictions, organizational practice, and research. She is a member of the Canadian Homeless Research Network and the steering committee of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

Table of Contents

    Introduction and Overview
    Chapter 1. Who are Homeless and What Is Life on the Streets
    Chapter 2. Outreach and Engagement
    Chapter 3. Homelessness and Health
    Chapter 4. Interprofessional Practice
    Chapter 5. Case Management and System Navigation
    Chapter 6. Housing First Approaches and Housing First Programs
    Chapter 7. Mental Health and Illness
    Chapter 8. Addictions: Mind and Mood Altering Substances and Behaviors Substance Use World-Wide
    Chapter 9. Co-occurring Disorders and Trauma Informed Care
    Chapter 10. Cultural Competence with Diverse People
    Chapter 11. Ethics in Practice
    Chapter 12. Legal Issues in the Homeless Sector
    Appendix 1: Canadian definition and topology of homelessness
    Appendix 2: Professional Quality of Life Scale (PROQOL)
    Appendix 3: Addiction Abstinence Self-Efficacy Scale
    Appendix 4: Trauma Self-Assessment
    Appendix 5: Alcohol and other Drugs: Intoxication and Withdrawal

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