Community Housing Canada

Community Housing Canada 

at home in the north

people, places, policies, prospects

Balanced Supply of housing

aging in the right place

Community Housing Canada

Building a Resilient Community Housing Sector in Canada

Principal Investigator

Dr. Damian Collins, University of Alberta

Many low- and moderate-income families in Canada struggle to access affordable, safe and adequate housing. Home ownership is priced out of their reach in many regions, and renting in the private market consumes an increasing proportion of their incomes. In this context, the community housing sector has a key role to play in meeting housing needs. Accounting for 16% of all rental units in Canada, this sector includes diverse government, not- for-profit and co-operative providers. It insulates tenants from the commodification of housing and provides vital access to affordable units, including through rents-geared -to-income. The sector also faces a range of complex pressures. Demand for community housing is growing due to affordability challenges, and becoming more diverse due to changing household types. Providers are increasingly expected to meet goals of social inclusion and improved environmental performance, often with limited human resources capacity. Asset management is a complex task. with expiring operating agreements, aging stock and significant deferred maintenance. In addition, research on the sector is modest, with relatively little work considering how best to respond to these challenges.

 

The goal of this one-year partnership is to identify what is required to build a resilient and sustainable community housing sector in Canada. Drawing on the knowledge and capacity of the sector itself, we will pursue four specific objectives:

  1. To develop consensus on substantive definitions of ‘resilience’ and ‘sustainability’ as they apply to community housing;
  2. To identify ways for providers to improve their resilience and sustainability, and measure their impacts of their initiatives;
  3. To conceptualize how the National Housing Strategy will shape the sector;
  4. To decide on research priorities for community housing over the next five years.

To pursue these objectives and inform practice in the community housing sector, we will employ the Café Pracadémique model as both methodology and knowledge mobilization approach. Drawing on traditions of public intellectualism and interdisciplinary cooperation, Café Pracadémique engages practitioners, policy makers, scholars and citizens in conversation about issues of shared interest and concern. It will be utilized as a forum for developing knowledge in an interdisciplinary field that currently lacks a cohesive understanding of key concepts, challenges and practices. It will also provide a platform for articulating and sharing that knowledge in ways that are accessible and meaningful to diverse participants, including community housing providers, on whom much of the responsibility for innovation and sustainability in the sector rests.