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Michael Shapcott is a Canadian academic whose public policy research focuses on housing, homelessness, and the relationships between health, poverty and housing. He has worked on housing and homelessness initiatives at all levels of government including international levels.[1] He is currently Director of the Affordable Housing and Social Innovation at the Wellesley Institute (WI), a non-profit and non-partisan research and policy think tank in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[2] He was previously Executive Director of the Community/University Research Partnerships (CURP) program at University of Toronto's Centre for Urban and Community Studies,[3] where he promoted links between academic research and social justice. Shapcott is a founding member of the National Housing and Homelessness Network[4] and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee[5] and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, of which he continues to be a board member.[6]

Michael Shapcott
EducationLondon School of Economics and Political Science, Political economy of public policy (2008)
University of Toronto, Law (1983 – 1986 attr), The University of Calgary, General studies - political science (1980 – 1982)
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
OccupationDirector (2009 - current)
Years active1980s - current
EmployerWellesley Institute (WI)
OrganizationWellesley Institute's Affordable Housing and Social Innovation
Notable work
Wellesley Institute's Annual Housing Reports
Precarious housing iceberg
Movementaffordable housing, homelessness, social initiatives, health and housing
Board member ofToronto Environmental Alliance
Manager of Government Relations and Communications – Ontario Region for the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada
WebsiteWellesley Institute

Prior to that, he was manager of government relations and communications at the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (Ontario Region).[7]

Michael Shapcott went to Alexander Galt Regional High School (1970 – 1972) and took courses including political science at the University of Calgary (1980 – 1982) and then studied Law at the University of Toronto (1983 – 1986). He did not go before the bar but instead began to work at the Christian Resource Centre[8] then as a manager at both Houses Opening Today (HOT) and with the Homes First Society, an innovative initiative that has become an integral part of many housing programs.

In 1989, Shapcott, Bart Poesiat and future Toronto mayor Barbara Hall created the Rupert Pilot Project[9] to fund affordable housing initiatives which received substantial funding in the early 1990s from the Ontario government.

Shapcott came to public attention in the late 1980s and early 1990s for his work in BASIC which became the "Breads Not Circuses" coalition which argued that the money being spent on Toronto's bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics could be better spent on housing.[10] His detractors vilified him for helping compromise the city's bid for the 1996 Olympic Games.[11]

Earlier in his adult life, Shapcott worked as a reporter, columnist and editor for several newspapers and has worked on such newspapers as the Northbay Nugget and the Calgary Herald.

In 2004 Shapcott entered electoral politics by running as the New Democratic Party's candidate in Toronto Centre in the 2004 federal election[12] placing second to Liberal incumbent Bill Graham.

He made his second attempt in the same riding in the 2006 federal election,[13] increasing the NDP vote to its highest level ever in the riding.

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Shapcott, Michael (August 2010). Precarious Housing in Canada (PDF). Wellesley Institute (Report). Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved 12 February 2014. In this often cited report, Shapcott uses a graphic entitled "Precarious housing iceberg" to represent the layers on the spectrum of precarious housing in Canada in 2010. Above the water line the visible iceberg represents the visible homeless (150-300,000) but below the water other layers on the spectrum of housing vulnerabilities include the hidden homeless (450,000-900,000), overcrowded (705,165 h/hs), substandard housing (1.3 million h/hs), core housing need (1.5 million h/hs), inadequate housing (2 million h/hs), annual housing supply deficit (220,000 h/hs) and unaffordable housing (3.1 million h/hs).


  1. ^ Michael Shapcott CV (PDF), Toronto, Ontario: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, December 2002, retrieved 29 May 2013
  2. ^ Byers, Jim (December 19, 2006). "A protest with fixings". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  3. ^ "Activists Push One Per Cent Solution for Canada's Rental Housing "Crisis"". Realty Times. October 10, 2002. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  4. ^ "Protesters demand Martin create affordable housing". CBC News. November 14, 2003. Retrieved 2014-06-15.
  5. ^ "Counting the homeless". Canada Free Press. June 29, 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  6. ^ "City gets low marks for failing to clear air" (fee required). Toronto Star. October 11, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  7. ^ "Unfamiliar to Canada - lack of roofs". The Christian Science Monitor. January 14, 2002. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  8. ^ Morris, Ruth; Colleen Heffren (1988). Street People Speak. Mosaic Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-88962-364-4.
  9. ^ "Paul Rodgers, 68: Social activist fought psychiatric system". Toronto Star. August 10, 2004. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  10. ^ "Group urges help for homeless, not a home for Games". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. June 24, 1990. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  11. ^ "MAN WHO BACKED TORONTO FOR 1996 OLYMPICS EXPRESSES DISMAY". The Buffalo News. September 23, 1990. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  12. ^ "NDP in celebratory mood as campaign kicks off". CTV. May 23, 2004. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  13. ^ "St. James Town's political awakening". The Globe and Mail. January 6, 2006. Retrieved 2014-06-15.

External linksEdit