Eric Weissman

Assistant Professor


Social Science

Hazen Hall 209

Saint John
1 506 648 5651

Dr. Eric Weissman 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. His current academic work began in 1999 in tent camps and tiny home communities like Toronto’s Tent City, which was the subject of his first film, “Subtext-real stories” (2005; 2012). He lived for a short time at Dignity Village Oregon, the first legal emergency transitional campground in US history, and the main site for his dissertation fieldwork completed at Concordia University in Montreal.

In 2014 his dissertation was awarded the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award. His work is comparative and critical. He looks at the provisions that make a range of housing models, from Housing First to tiny home communities, which he calls Intentional Homeless Communities, feasible in the context of widespread homelessness in North American cities. He uses photos, video, and visual elicitation practices to understand the narratives impacting how social policies are designed, experienced and critiqued. His work is a form of community based critical and pragmatic ethnography that asks stakeholders of various kinds in the areas of housing, homelessness, mental health and addictions, “ how do you see the world, and how might you change it?”

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. His recent CIHR funded collaboration with Canadian scholars on the impact of COVID and front-line workers in the homelessness sector, has resulted in several publications and policy recommendations.

In addition to these interests, in 2018, Dr. Weissman became Principal Investigator on a multi-sited study of post-secondary student homelessness across Canada. This collaborative project was recently funded by the Making the Shift Social Innovation Lab and involves researchers from several Canadian post-secondary institutions, education and housing policy makers, and students in an effort to understand and demonstrate the concrete needs of post-secondary students facing housing precarity. This project is the subject of CBC and Canadian Press coverage. Dr. Weissman has recently formed a visual ethnography lab at UNB Saint John ( under construction) to help students and community partners craft focused and scholarly applied visual studies of social problems in NB. 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.

Recent publications

Visual Essay - "Subtext 2019 UNB SJ VERSION"

Waegemakers Schiff, J., Weissman, E., Schiff, R., Scharf, D., Knap, J. and S. Campbell. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on research within the homeless services sector. Housing, Care and Support; Brighton Vol. 24, (3/4): 123-133. DOI:10.1108/HCS-08-2021-0023

Woodhall-Melnik, J. and E. Weissman (2021). Living with disaster: exploring complex decisions to stay in or leave flood prone areas, Housing Studies.

Weissman, E., Waegemakers Schiff, J., & Schiff, R. (2019). Post-Secondary Student Homelessness (PSSH) and Canadian youth: Stigma and institutional responses to student homelessness. Parity, 32(8): 32–34.

Weissman, E. (2017). Spaces, places and states of mind: A study of two homeless communities. In Tepperman, L., Albanese P. and Emily Alexander Eds., Reading sociology: Canadian perspectives, 3rd edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Weissman, E. (2017). Culture. In Tepperman, L. and Albanese, P. Eds. Principles of sociology. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Weissman, E. (2017). Tranquility on the razor’s edge: changing narratives of inevitability. Toronto: Rock’s Mills Press

Weissman, E. (2012). Dignity in exile – stories of struggle and hope from a modern American shantytown. Mount Forest: Exile Publications