This research fills an important knowledge gap by providing insights and recommendations to improve housing stability and outcomes for Indigenous residents. The research team is working with Horizon Housing in Calgary to improve housing outcomes for Indigenous residents. The team has developed 10 recommendations for Horizon Housing to consider.
3 Key Goals
Implement culturally-sensitive measures and supports to improve housing stability for Indigenous residents.
Promote Indigenous representation at the leadership and staff levels to ensure that recommendations and solutions are considered through an Indigenous lens.
The findings and recommendations from this research provide insights and teachings to housing providers, policy-makers and elected officials across Canada.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Horizon Housing is a non-profit affordable housing provider in Calgary. The organization owns and operates 19 buildings with over 900 units. Horizons found that residents who identify as Indigenous have higher rates of negative (i.e., involuntary) exits than non-Indigenous residents.
To address this, the research team is working with Horizons Housing to:
- Identify the unique challenges facing Indigenous residents that lead to unstable housing and negative exits.
- Identify measures, through an Indigenous lens, to better support Indigenous residents to improve housing stability and outcomes.
- Identify ways to measure and track the success of implemented measures.
This research project was guided by a 6-person advisory committee made up of 4 Indigenous members and 2 non-Indigenous members. The committee met monthly for the project’s duration.
The research methodology involved the following steps:
- Readings about housing stability and the housing conditions of urban Indigenous peoples in Canada.
15 one-on-one interviews with Indigenous residents at
- Interviewees were identified by Horizon staff or responded to promotional posters.
- To compensate residents for their time, they were provided with a tobacco offering and a gift card.
10 interviews with subject matter specialists in Alberta
and British Columbia.
- All people interviewed were identified by members of the project’s advisory committee.
4 focus groups.
- One with Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
- Two with front-line staff.
- One with members of Horizon’s leadership team.
An early draft of the final report was circulated to research
participants and experts across Canada.
- All participants were invited to attend presentations of early findings.
- One of the presentations was geared towards participating Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
A focus on Indigenous needs to improve housing outcomes
Research findings suggest that Indigenous residents would experience better housing outcomes if they had access to:
- on-site cultural programming
- opportunities to smudge
The study also found that the resident orientation process could be improved to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for Indigenous residents. This means co-creating solutions with residents, partner agencies, and Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
10 recommendations to improve the housing stability of Indigenous residents
The research team provided 10 recommendations for Horizon Housing to consider to improve the housing stability of Indigenous residents:
- Organize on-site cultural programming.
- Make smudge a focus of some of the new cultural programming, with the support of Elders.
- Create and staff a designated Indigenous liaison position to provide one-on-one support to Indigenous residents.
- Enhance the orientation process for new residents and consider multi-stage orientation.
- Improve staff training, on Indigenous world views, making learning available on a variety of platforms. Progress could be tracked through staff performance reviews.
- Consider proactively addressing crime prevention through environmental design at the building design stage. This could result in reduced police presence at Horizon Housing buildings and make Indigenous residents feel safer.
- Fund an eviction prevention plan to support residents who need to leave their units for an extended period. Some evictions for non-payment of rent could be prevented if Horizon were to implement an eviction prevention initiative whereby rent could be covered in the case of extenuating circumstances.
- Hire more front-line staff to support Indigenous residents.
- Ensure Indigenous representation at the leadership levels—both board and mangement.
- Track progress and success of recommendations through an annual survey geared towards Horizon's Indigenous residents.
Program: National Housing Strategy Housing Research Awards
Activity Stream: CMHC President’s Medal for Outstanding Housing Research
Title of the Research: Improving Housing Stability Among Indigenous Residents at Horizon Housing in Calgary, Alberta
Lead Researcher: Nick Falvo Consulting
Project Coordination: Dr. Nick Falvo
Research Committee: Horizon Housing, Aboriginal Standing Committee