Chronic housing insecurity for communities in Canada’s North is both a public policy priority and human rights issue. Current strategies to address northern housing insecurity and homelessness, however, tend to be developed outside of the North. They do not reflect the priorities of northern communities or engage northern cultures effectively.
The At Home in the North program will bring together northern communities with researchers, governments and the private sector. They will collaborate to create, share and mobilize knowledge around northern homelessness and housing insecurity. This will guide the development and implementation of programs, services and models for housing and homelessness suited to Canada’s North.
3 Key Goals
Bring together partners across academia, government and communities to create, share and mobilize knowledge on northern homelessness and housing insecurity.
Explore the meaning of home across northern communities and regions to inform a framework for promoting northern housing.
Introduce a comprehensive and flexible northern housing strategy that supports community priorities for housing and related supports.
Project scope and expected outcomes
The priorities of northern communities
Strategies to address chronic housing insecurity and homelessness in northern communities tend to use southern Canadian models. Housing interventions are based on a continuum that places homelessness at one end and home ownership at the other. Supportive housing programs are built on the existence of an integrated pathway of social and heath supports.
Northern communities, however, have made it clear that this is very different from their experiences.
This is why southern Canadian models are ill-equipped to address the priorities of northern communities. They also do not meet the needs of northern cultural contexts and Indigenous peoples. Models and services are needed that are culturally sensitive and specifically designed to meet the priorities of northern communities.
Facilitating connections and collaboration
At Home in the North is one of the 5 research programs that comprise the Collaborative Housing Research Network (CHRN). It will bring together communities from across the North that are experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness. Its central partnership will see those communities work with university researchers and collaborators from a range of organizations. This includes non-governmental organizations, Indigenous governments and communities, municipal and provincial/territorial governments, and not-for-profit organizations.
These partners will collaborate to create, share and mobilize knowledge about homelessness and housing insecurity in the North. They will define possibilities for culturally safe and context-relevant housing programs and supports for northerners experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness. This will help expand our understanding of northern homelessness and housing insecurity and identify existing knowledge gaps.
More than shelter
The At Home in the North partnership is based on an understanding of housing as more than shelter. Instead, it is about building, rebuilding and sustaining a sense of home. It will emphasize the theme of sustainability throughout its research, including how it operates at the community and regional levels.
The partnerships has five research objectives:
- Objective #1: Understand the meaning of home across northern community and regional contexts. This can inform a framework for promoting northern housing security.
- Objective #2: Advance an understanding of the northern housing continuum that is contextually and culturally relevant.
- Objective #3: Develop models for integrating health, wellness and home in northern housing strategies.
- Objective #4: Examine sociocultural, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability for the longevity and effectiveness of northern housing programs, policies and designs.
- Objective #5: Advance a comprehensive and flexible northern housing strategy that supports community priorities for housing and related supports.
Together, these objectives will work to facilitate knowledge creation, sharing and mobilization among the partners and other groups. They also promote collaboration to develop culturally safe and relevant housing, policies, and health and social services for northern communities.
Developed by northern communities
The partnership’s ultimate goal is to create programs and services that are developed by and used in northern communities. These will inform the Northern Housing and Indigenous Housing areas of the National Housing Strategy. They also link to other focus areas, including Housing for Those in Greatest Need, Community Housing Sustainability, and Sustainable Housing and Communities.
The collective nature of the research will also encourage partnerships and build research capacity. This is reflected in the project’s objectives and its emphasis on creating, sharing and mobilizing knowledge.
Project Team: Dr. Julia Christensen
Location: Memorial University of Newfoundland
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