Research reveals 2 priority areas for housing investment that would make a direct and meaningful impact on Indigenous child and youth poverty in Surrey:
- Affordable rental housing for families, especially single-parent families
- Housing opportunities for young people, Elders, single adults and multi-generational families
The Skookum Housing Solutions project received the 2021 CMHC Gold Roof Award for Housing Research Excellence award.
3 Key Goals
Research provided a deeper understanding of poverty and housing – it stressed the need for Indigenous child poverty to been understood, defined, and solved through an Indigenous lens.
New housing options to redefine a house into a home and create the conditions to end Indigenous child poverty require 4 social design criteria.
Affordable rental housing and housing opportunities investments will make a direct and meaningful impact on Indigenous children and youth poverty in Surrey.
Project scope and expected outcomes
“Skookum” means strong, powerful, brave in the Chinook language
The Skookum Housing Solutions research shines a light on the rapidly changing urban Indigenous population in Surrey, British Columbia. It’s the key to addressing systemic inequalities in the availability of Indigenous housing and services.
Growing Indigenous population in Surrey is an opportunity for decision-makers and funders
The Indigenous population in Surrey is growing and provides an opportunity for decision-makers and funders to take a closer look at addressing systemic housing issues. For example, Surrey has only 270 Indigenous non-market housing units while Vancouver, with a similar population, has 1,471 units.
To put this in perspective, Surrey has a population of 600,000 and is the second largest city in BC.
We anticipate that Surrey’s urban Indigenous population will double by 2036
The Indigenous population in Surrey has grown rapidly since 1996 and surpassed Vancouver in 2018 as the largest urban Indigenous population in BC. Current projections expect the urban Indigenous population to double by 2036.
Developing a deeper understanding of urban Indigenous housing needs by combining traditional research methods with innovative, Indigenous approaches
The Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee convened Skookum Housing Solutions as a social innovation lab for Indigenous-led research on housing. It combined traditional research methods with innovative, Indigenous approaches to develop a deeper understanding of current needs.
Research shows that affordable rental housing and housing opportunities will have a direct impact
This award winning research revealed 2 priority areas for housing investment that would make a direct and meaningful impact on Indigenous child and youth poverty in Surrey:
- affordable rental housing for families, especially single-parent families
- housing opportunities for young people, Elders, single adults and multi-generational families
Indigenous child poverty can be understood, defined and solved through an Indigenous lens
The research led to a deeper understanding of poverty and housing. It stressed the need for Indigenous child poverty to be understood, defined and solved through an Indigenous lens.
Economic wellbeing can’t be viewed in isolation from other aspects of wellbeing
This statement led us to develop 4 social design criteria to be imbedded into new housing options. These options will redefine a house into a home and create the conditions to end Indigenous child poverty:
- Community Connections
- Family Belonging
- Cultural Identity and Visibility
- Financial Security
New housing ideas should be evaluated to see how well they foster/facilitate/increase these 4 criteria.
This is an innovative outcome of housing research because indicators of “poverty” tend to be defined by governments and non-Indigenous institutions. They do not typically reflect Indigenous worldviews and community-based definitions of poverty and they rarely make it into housing solutions.
Research concluded that 1,880 affordable units are needed
This work identified a shortfall of 1,880 units of deeply affordable housing for Indigenous households and developed an Indigenous approach to developing new housing supports that center Indigenous wellbeing.
The research has sparked awareness at multiple levels of government and created the momentum for change.
Creating momentum for change
This research is original in its:
- multi-method approach
- integrating statistical data
- lived experience
The research is innovative in its Indigenous-led governance structure. It’s at the forefront of understanding urban Indigenous housing needs. It serves as a model for Indigenous led and controlled research in other communities.
This work responds to a stark lack of research on urban Indigenous housing needs. It raises the bar on Indigenous controlled research and understanding urban Indigenous housing needs.
Now it’s time to delve deeper into developing a theory of changing for responding to the needs of Indigenous individuals experiencing homelessness in Surrey
The award will see the team delve deeper into developing a theory of change to respond to Indigenous individuals experiencing homelessness needs in Surrey.
We need to understand the 33% of Indigenous homelessness population as more than a statistic
There is a lot we need to learn about these people.
- Who they are.
- How did they end up on the street in Surrey?
- Do they have a First Nation or Métis community-specific affiliation?
- What are the impacts of residential schools?
- What are their immediate challenges (health, nutrition, safety, etc.)?
- What kind of services they do or don’t access in Surrey and for what reasons?
This work will inform the development of new services that target the needs of these individuals. It will work towards reducing urban Indigenous homelessness in Surrey.
This additional information will allow us to provide information to policy makers at all levels of government.
Skookum Ambassadors will carry out an evaluation of the research activities
- Ambassadors are emerging community leaders that started as Guide Group members in Skookum.
- They are training in evaluation methods and have been employed by Skookum and Simon Fraser University.
- Sheldon Tetreault, Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee
- Jeska Slater, Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee
- Matt Thomson, Urban Matters CCC
- Marina Jozipovic, Urban Matters CCC
The research agenda was set and supervised by Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee. Results were shared with and validated by a diverse group that included:
- Indigenous residents of Surrey
- Indigenous housing and service providers
- non-Indigenous housing and service providers
- City staff
Our principal research partner (Urban Matters) worked within the infrastructure of the Skookum social innovation lab, bringing their expertise into the circle.
The results fed into a series of design labs called “campfires” to mobilize action on Indigenous housing in Surrey. These are now being used to build knowledge around Indigenous housing needs within government.
Get more information:
Contact CMHC at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this award-winning project.
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for important updates on the progress of this research.