Governments tend to use distinct forms of affordable housing provision interchangeably. For instance, an individual or family waiting for housing might be offered a public unit or a portable housing benefit. What is unknown, however, is which of these approaches generates the best outcomes for tenants.
The People, Places, Policies and Prospects research partnership will help fill that gap in the evidence. A national interdisciplinary team of researchers and organizations will collect data and highlight trends related to affordable housing. They will generate region-specific findings about affordable rental housing that are focused on sub-populations, such as youth. The program’s goal is to create a unified, pan-Canadian understanding of affordable housing approaches and tenant outcomes.
3 Key Goals
Highlight trends related to affordable housing approaches to inform a national-level understanding of its role and effects.
Generate in-depth, region-specific findings about affordable rental housing that are focused on sub-populations, such as youth and Indigenous renters.
Create an original Canadian knowledge base about affordable rental housing approaches and tenant outcomes for those in greatest need.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Replacing best guesses with data and insight
Although governments generally treat affordable housing approaches as interchangeable, there’s no evidence about which, if any, produce the best outcomes. Without that data, policy decisions about housing provision are based on best guesses and good intentions.
The People, Places, Policies and Prospects research partnership will collect data and generate insight about affordable housing approaches. It will explore a central question: how do affordable rental housing approaches of different kinds affect the most vulnerable Canadians? It considers outcomes of different affordable rental approaches and the varying experiences of different groups. The goal is to replace best guess approaches with strategies informed by data and deep insight.
Developed and implemented in an interdisciplinary partnership
People, Places, Policies and Prospects is one of 5 research programs that comprise the Collaborative Housing Research Network (CHRN). It has been developed and is being implemented in an interdisciplinary partnership with researchers and community organizations across the country. Participants have expertise in a wide range of topics, including housing studies, gender studies, sociology, geography and planning. Its partner organizations are involved in housing provision and policy development across Canada.
The People, Places, Policies and Prospects program has 2 pillars of research:
- The first will use the Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) to highlight trends related to affordable housing approaches and their impact. This will help develop a national-level understanding of affordable rental housing’s role and its effect on those in greatest need.
- The second facet will involve distinct projects in Saskatoon, Ottawa and Cape Breton Regional Municipality. These will allow the program to understand how affordable housing leads to particular outcomes and experiences, and in which contexts. This will generate in-depth, region-specific findings about affordable rental housing that are focused on sub-populations. This includes youth, Indigenous renters and individuals who have experienced homelessness.
Participants in the regional projects will be asked a standard set of questions. Additional questions will be asked based on partner interests and needs. Data collection methods will vary by project.
A 5-year national research plan
The program has 5 key research objectives:
- To understand the scale and scope of affordable rental housing provision across the country. This includes which kinds of approaches are used, where and for whom.
- To examine the outcomes and experiences of marginalized tenants living in affordable rental housing. These will be related to financial security, housing satisfaction, housing stability, health and wellbeing, and neighbourhood opportunities. The groups engaged will include youth leaving homelessness, Indigenous peoples, seniors and low-income singles.
- To establish how outcomes and experiences may differ based on the affordable rental housing approach provided. This includes public housing and market rentals subsidized through housing allowances and supplements, and subsidized, non-profit and co-operative housing.
- To use a gender-based analysis plus frame to examine the potential different experiences and effects of rental housing on different groups. This includes LGBTQ2S+ individuals, single mothers, and women and their families. The analysis will also examine their intersections with other social identities, such as racialization, Indigeneity and disability.
- To understand how neighbourhood conditions and policy environments affect tenant experiences and outcomes. This includes things such as neighbourhood-level poverty, lack of amenities and services, and legal systems.
These objectives will be pursued over a 5-year national research plan.
An original Canadian knowledge base
The program will create an original Canadian knowledge base about affordable rental housing approaches and tenant outcomes. This work will inform all other CHRN nodes. For instance, it will generate results on Northern housing and on tenants living in non-profit and co-operative rentals. It also complements the community-level focus of the Balanced Supply of Housing node with a comprehensive range of tenant-level outcomes.
The program team will work closely with the Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative (CHEC) hub. This will help to ensure that the program’s findings are effectively and widely shared.
Program Partner: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Research Team: People, Places, Policies, Prospects
Program Director: Catherine Leviten-Reid, Cape Breton University
Location: Cape Breton University
Check the CHEC website for more information.