Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Bridging Public-Private Partnerships in a Case Study of Housing and Employment Training for Homeless Youth

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Bridging Public-Private Partnerships in a Case Study of Housing and Employment Training for Homeless Youth

Article excerpt

Resume

Le partenariat public/prive (PPP) est une strategie commune afin d'affronter les differents problemes sociaux, comme les sans-abri. Cette strategie implique des processus creatifs avec des partenaires complementaires afin d'assurer le foisonnement de solutions innovatrices. Cependant le concept de partenariat est souvent considere comme non problematique. Or, les arrangements du partenariat peuvent deguiser des desequilibres complexes en ce qui concerne la coordination des responsabilites, le processus decisionnel, etc. Il importe de comprendre comment les differents defis et perspectives (parfois conflictuelles) sont negocies entre les differents partenaires. Cet article utilise la metaphore de la construction d'un pont (rapprochement) afin de developper une taxonomie des processus de partenariat public/prive a partir d'une etude de cas sur le developpement du logement et le programme de formation d'emploi pour les jeunes sans-abri a Toronto.

Mots cles : sans-abri, jeunesse, logement, formation d'emploi, partenariat public/prive, Canada

Abstract Public-private partnerships (PPPs) represent a common strategy for tackling difficult social issues, such as homelessness. The strategy implies creative processes where complementary partners foster innovative solutions. The concept of partnership, however, often seems to be taken as unproblematic. Partnership arrangements may disguise complex imbalances in co-ordinating responsibilities, decision-making, and accountability. It is important to understand how (at times conflicting) perspectives are challenged and negotiated amongst many different partners. Utilizing the metaphor of a bridge, this article develops a taxonomy of public-private partnership processes (PPPPs) emerging from a case study of the development of a housing and employment training programme for homeless youth in Toronto.

Keywords: homelessness, youth, housing, employment training, public-private partnerships, Canada

Introduction

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) amongst different privately and publicly funded organizations, and different levels of government are recognized as a common strategy in efforts to alleviate homelessness. Without proof of such partnerships, or cross-sector collaboration, the chances of funding an innovative project can be considerably diminished. The concept of partnership, though, is often understood as unproblematic in common parlance. Individuals, organizations and other constituencies are apparently meant to co-operate, complement and co-ordinate each other's efforts in some finely choreographed ballet of decisions, actions and accountability. Partnership arrangements may disguise complex imbalances in co-ordinating responsibilities and decision-making. It is important to understand how organizations' (at times conflicting) mandates come to be challenged and negotiated amongst many different partners. Funders may each have their own set of objectives, funding formulae and markers of success.

This article focuses on one case study and explores how partners involved in an innovative demonstration project for homeless youth conceived of the processes in which they were actively engaged. The case study presents findings from a longitudinal and qualitative study of the development of Eva's Phoenix in Toronto, administered by the youth agency, Eva's Initiatives. Eva's Phoenix is a pilot project designed to provide transitional housing as well as training and employment opportunities for 50 homeless youth. Funding for the non-profit project involved commitments from multiple constituencies--including all levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal), social service agencies, as well as private businesses and organized labour. This article focuses on the initial developmental phase of the project, that is, the first year and a half of planning and development, to the completion of construction and just prior to Eva's Phoenix opening--January 1999 to May 2000. …

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