Cape Breton University will lead a five-year, $1.3-million national research initiative on the importance of affordable rental housing for those in greatest need.
Catherine Leviten-Reid, associate professor in the community economic development department, will head the project. She’s been researching affordable rental housing in partnership with organizations in Cape Breton since 2015.
Scholars from CBU and across Canada will now join her efforts while working in partnership with local and national non-profit organizations on a collective goal of informing affordable housing policies and programs nationwide.
“We want to understand how different kinds of affordable rental housing impacts the lives of marginalized individuals and families,” Leviten-Reid said in a news release.
Under current practices, she said governments use distinct forms of affordable housing interchangeably. In the model, an individual or family on a wait-list for housing might be offered a public unit, a rent supplement for a specific unit in non-profit or market-based housing, or be given a cash benefit they can use for a rental of their choice.
“Without evidence on which, if any, of these approaches generate the best outcomes for tenants, policy decisions about housing provisions are based on best guesses.”
Margaret Dechman, associate professor of sociology at CBU, who is recognized for her work on social exclusion, is a co-investigator in the research. Stephen Augustine, CBU associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College, is also a collaborator.
New Dawn Enterprises, the Community Entity on Homelessness, Cape Breton Community Housing Association, Daniela Kempkens and Public Health are local partners.
Organizations involved across Canada include Carleton University in Ottawa, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of British Columbia, BC Housing, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Association on Rural and Remote Housing and Homelessness, and the cities of Ottawa and Saskatoon.
“The partnered research we have conducted with CBU over the past few years has been highly relevant and impactful,” said Fred Deveaux, executive director of Cape Breton Community Housing Association, in a news release.
“This is an incredible opportunity to continue that work, to partner with others across the country, and to inform affordable housing policy and practice here and across Canada.”
Funding for the project includes significant investments from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.