MAP Community Expert Group (CEG) on Homelessness, Housing and Health

In Progress

Homelessness and Housing

The MAP Community Expert Group (CEG) on Homelessness, Housing, and Health is comprised of a group people with lived expertise of homelessness. The CEG was formed in 2020 and is working with MAP to align MAP’s research agenda on homeless and housing with community priorities and develop research insight that responds to community needs. The members of the group have extensive advocacy work in Toronto and bring diverse perspectives relating to homelessness, housing, and health.

Currently, the group has three objectives:

  • Objective 1: The CEG provides advice to scientists at various stages of their research project on how they can engage and involve the community in their project.
  • Objective 2: The members meet to identify priority areas for new research projects on housing, homelessness, and health.
  • Objective 3: The members receive research training to increase their research capacity.

The group is available to consult on projects as we look to expand their scope and involvement in MAP research. The group provides broad feedback on research projects through meetings with researchers. There is no cost to you for this consultation. Typically, researchers submit a form in advance of the meeting with information about their project (or proposed project) and questions they would like to explore with the group. If you would like to learn more about the group or the research feedback meeting process, please contact Ayan Yusuf at  

CEG Members:

Allison Dyer

Allison is a Peer Researcher & Coordinator focusing on schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, and intervention treatment programs. Allison’s focus of work is at the intersection of housing instability, homelessness, racial and gender marginalization and mental health. It is her belief that intervention treatment programs that address multiple social health factors will increase the quality of life of those experiencing adversity and social inequities. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Allison shares her lived experience in Toronto’s mental health and shelter system. When not reading up on research findings and learning more about advocacy through community, Allison enjoys reading fictional stories, journaling and watching movies.

Bee Lee Soh

Bee is an active community volunteer and anti-poverty activist with non-profit advisory committees and community groups. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Bee is sharing over seven years of experience in community advocacy and shares her lived experience with homelessness and shelter system. Bee is a member of the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Lived Experience Advisory Group. From September 2017 to August 2018, Bee was also a member of the federal government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Poverty leading up to the first National Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Daniela Mergarten

Daniela has many years of social justice experience and has worn many different hats and several of them in leadership positions. Presently, she is the Co-chair of the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness (PWLE) person with Lived Experience Caucus. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Daniela is sharing her knowledge and lived experiences with housing and income challenges.

Daniela is member of the Steering committee that is presently on a committee working with the Housing Secretariat in Toronto. She has been chosen to work with (ERAC) a federal committee that is presently collecting data pertaining to evictions. This committee includes the Federal Housing Advocate, Marie – Josee Houle. Daniela is involved with 2 research projects through St. Michael’s Hospital, MARCO and MAP. She serves on the MARCO Steering Committee and Community Group as well as the Encampment Project, Community Committee, KT Committee and the Peer Research Evaluation Committee. She is also a member of the Canadian Lived Experience Leadership Network (CLELN)

Frank Crichlow

Frank is a community health work/satellite worker at South Riverdale Community Health Centre and a long time community advocate for better harm reduction services. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Frank is sharing his knowledge and expertise on harm reduction practices and desire to bring more diverse voices in research. He is currently the president of the Canadian Association of people Who Use Drugs Canadian and sits on many committees focus on harm reduction such as the City of Toronto Decriminalization Committee. Frank Attended the United Nations 62 and 63 sessions on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna 2019 and 2020.

Opal Sparks

Opal is the proud recipient of the Rosie McGroarty award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal, which she received for her involvement in research and social justice projects. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Opal sharing her knowledge and experience of homelessness, housing, and health.  Opal was the co-chair of the executive committee for ISAC Legal Clinic, and Board Chair for PCLS Legal Clinic. Currently, she is also enjoying doing work with Asemaa Circles this year and helping to maintain the High Park Oak Savannah lands.  Over the years, Opal has done research projects with Daily Bread Food Bank (provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy, Hungry City), Wellesley Institute (community participatory projects), Caledon Institute, Tamarack Institute, Atkinson Foundation, People’s Blueprint, Social Assistance modernization process and Social Planning Toronto. Opal participated in a year-long Maytree Leaders for Change program. She has consulted with Access Alliance, Dr. Gary Bloch’s poverty health initiative, CAMH (Empowerment Council), spoken for the United Nations and United Way GTA. Opal participated in the pilot Advocacy program at the STOP for several years.

Her favorite memories: Opal was part of the forming of the Centro de Medicina Natural, a community based health initiative, and speaking on several occasions for Take Back the Night. She worked for many years at Food Share Toronto as a community animator and facilitated an art group at Roncesvalles United church for several years. Most recently, Opal worked with Greenest City as an earth worker with Dunn Garden.

Rene Adams

Rene wears many hats in the community and is bringing valuable insight and experience to MAP Community Expert Group. Her various roles include:  Maytree Leader for Change, Community Advocate, Peer Advocate, Facilitator, Community Animator, Mental Health Support Professional, Provincial Government Advisor, Blogger and Health Equity Research Consultant. Rene is also a current board member of the Jane Finch and Davenport Perth Community Ministries, a former board member of The Income Security Advocacy Centre. She uses her own experience of marginalization and living with multiple hidden disabilities to educate others and advocate for meaningful systemic change by promoting the empowerment of marginalized community members to find creative solutions to individual and community challenges.

Sa’ad Talia

Sa’ad is a long-time and accomplished advocate for better housing and mental health supports. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Sa’ad is sharing his knowledge and lived experiences with housing, mental health and addictions challenges and now, poverty and social isolation. Sa’ad advocates for PWLE rights, inclusion, and advancement. He is a Peer Counselor, with a personal background in Harm Reduction, which he uses to provide online harm reduction resources to South Asians with addiction issues.

Veronica Snooks

Veronica is a member of Mi’kmaw Qalipo First Nations from Newfoundland. She is a trained peer worker and is studying Indigenous Mental Health and Addictions at First Nations Technical Institute College. As part of MAP’s Community Expert Group, Veronica is sharing her knowledge and lived experiences with homelessness, poverty, domestic violence as well as systemic violence against herself and children, mental health and addiction. As well as systemic violence against myself and children. As I worked my own recovery, my own survival. I found other peers. I found voices from the street. I was taught about the issues that hold us back and harm us. I found a new sense of empowerment. I began to become an advocate. Veronica has been involved with: Lived Experienced Advisory Group (LEAG) (alumni member); EC Empowerment Council –CAMH (board member); The Dream Team (working member); MARCO (MAP research project); Co-Chair TAEH-PWLE Caucus; CLELN-Canadian Lived Experience leadership network Steering Committee and principles Team. Steering Committee for the Social Housing and Human Rights Project; SSHR; Patient & Community Engagement in Research Committee (PCERC) Unity Health; DET OHT Stepped Care Oversight Committee; Climate Action Champion with under the Environment & Climate Division, City of Toronto.

Homelessness and Housing


  • Alison Dyer
  • Bee Lee Soh
  • Daniela Mergarten
  • Frank Crichlow
  • Opal Sparks
  • Rene Adams
  • Sa'ad Talia
  • Veronica Snooks


  • Dr. Stephen Hwang
  • Kate Francombe Pridham
  • George Da Silva
  • Ayan Yusuf

Contact Info

Ayan Yusuf