This Solutions Lab takes an innovative approach to addressing housing affordability issues that African Canadians experience disproportionately. The Lab combines traditional housing models that are centred around family, community and home with long-term supports. These include skills and information services such as in-home mental health and community wellness support. Residents will be offered opportunities to graduate out of affordable housing, through rent-to-own options for long-term renters and other programs aimed at improving housing affordability. The solutions in this Lab strive to lift residents out of poverty while strengthening their connection to culture.
3 Key Findings
Co-develop a housing model that provides people who are part of the African Canadian community with stable-long term housing solutions.
Facilitate wrap-around services that will lift residents out of housing need and support people experiencing additional barriers to accessing affordable housing.
Identify ways to support newcomers and housing-insecure Canadians with a roadmap to build capacity for more support and representation of housing advocacy across the country.
Project scope and expected outcomes
When working on affordable housing for African Canadians, many issues often go unaddressed. While issues like low income and lack of affordable housing are common across the housing sector, the lack of specific programs for African Canadian communities is widespread. This lack of advocacy leaves people behind – not just from finding a home but also navigating challenges of racism and discrimination, language barriers and mental health.
Creating affordable multigenerational housing
Creating multigenerational affordable housing will offer traditional family, home and communal experiences and a sustainable environment for community members. It will also give residents tools and support systems to strengthen the community housing sector. This Lab’s findings will be transferable across the housing sector among communities with similar values and challenges.
Developing Partnerships in Housing
The proposed African Canadian Affordable Housing Lab will create opportunities for collaboration and partnerships between African Canadian stakeholders and partners. It will also be possible for continental African Canadian members to participate in the affordable community housing sector as housing providers. The 55 African Canadian communities, which each have specific local languages and cultures, are underserved due to a lack of capacity, representation and discrimination.
The result, once implemented, will improve housing conditions for African Canadians, especially those dealing with isolation and lack of access to resources and mental health support. At scale, the Lab anticipates further mobilization and engagement with housing providers from the African Canadian community across Canada. It is also anticipated that in collaboration with CMHC, the Lab will encourage other projects similar to the African Canadian Affordable Housing solution in other Canadian communities.
The Lab has 5 phases:
- The Definition Phase will establish the Lab procedures including governing processes, training with participants, establishing engagement tools, co-developing a community map and conducting interviews and surveys. This will establish a summary of trends, engagement and network updates.
- The Discovery Phase will generate insights through big data and user insights. This phase will also include an analysis of the current options and opportunities, a sensemaking workshop and the co-development problem map.
- The Development Phase will welcome new ideas through stakeholder input. This phase will include training with creativity, ideation and systems mapping. It will articulate the desired future state and tools to be used. It also includes extensive community workshops and a community survey.
- The Prototype and Test Phase is intended to test and refine the shared ideas and potential solutions through feedback, prototype testing and community feedback.
- The Roadmap Phase will communicate a clear path to realize the preferred solution and create program replication. This phase is set to conduct training for public advocacy planning, will finalize and integrate the prototypes and establish a roadmap.
Sharing the future of community growth
If the Lab is maintained at scale, the project team anticipates:
- a reduction of poverty levels and discrimination cases towards African tenants
- an increase in skills and wages
- decreased levels of language barriers for newcomers, making it easier for African Canadians to integrate into their community
To achieve this outcome, the Lab will create a platform for knowledge sharing through a website. The website will share:
- new ideas
- design principles
- reports that will apply to a wide variety of housing solutions across Canada
- Kizito Musabimana – Rwandan Canadian Healing Centre (RCHC)
- Nicole Francoeur – Overlap Associates
- Ryan Voisin – Overlap Associates
- Lesley Drago – Overlap Associates
- Jonathan Okubay – New Nakfa - Eritrean Canadian Community Network
- Jacqueline Nyiramukwende – Rwandan Canadian Healing Centre (RCHC)
- Emmanuel KB.Quaye – Ghanaian-Canadian Association of Ontario (GCAO)
- Ephraim Mwaura – Kenyan Canadian Association – KCA
Get More Information:
Visit the National Housing Strategy’s Innovation page.
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for important updates on the progress of this lab.