Area I: Conceptualizing Community Housing within a Human Rights Framework

What are the implications of a human right to housing for the Canadian community housing sector, and what role does the community housing sector have in realizing this right for Canadians?

“Housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person and to building sustainable and inclusive communities”
– Canada’s National Housing Strategy


  1. To assist the community housing sector in understanding and operationalizing the right to housing;
  2. To create a framework for rights-based assessment of community housing practices and processes;
  3. To develop an understanding of the core principles of the National Housing Strategy and their applicability to community housing;
  4. To conceptualize if and how the right to housing supports the sustainability and resilience of community housing.

Area Lead

Damian Collins | University of Alberta

Dr Collins takes on this role in addition to his role as the partnership’s Director. He leads his team in researching the role community housing plays in helping Canadians realize their human right to housing. He draws on his considerable experience analyzing public policies and institutional practices from rights-based perspectives.


Jim Dunn | McMaster University

Dr Dunn is an expert in the relationship between neighbourhoods, housing and health. His work investigates the impact of housing and neighbourhood interventions on healthy child development.

Cynthia Puddu | MacEwan University

Using community-based participatory research methods, Dr Puddu works closely with homeless youth in Edmonton, sharing their stories of difficulty and success.

Katie MacDonald | Athabasca University

Dr MacDonald’s focus is interdisciplinary community-engaged research focused on learning in encounters with difference. In particular, she is interested in understandings of relational poverty and has looked at sites on the global and local scales.

Rob Shields | University of Alberta

Dr Shields holds a Henry Marshall Tory Chair and is a leading theorist of the materialities and cultures of urban space. 

Jacqueline Gahagan | Dalhousie University

Dr. Gahagan specializes in evaluating policy interventions, with a focus on gender and LGBTQ issues, particularly concerning health-promotion.

Graduate Students

Pablo A. Wikander | PhD Student | Areas 1 and 5, University of Alberta

My research focuses on the role of community housing in fulfilling the right to adequate housing for newcomers to Canada. The study is divided into three sections corresponding to Federal, Provincial-Municipal, and Neighbourhood scales to assess the housing regimes and Canadian refugee policy, housing and urban Imaginaries of refugees, and the right to housing and housing needs of refugees in Edmonton respectively.

My background is in Architecture and Urban Design, and I have previously worked with communities in Venezuela bringing ideas from the community into urban form. I hope to contribute to the project by understanding the imaginaries and housing needs of refugees in Edmonton to develop plans and designs that can fulfill the right to adequate community housing for refugees. Working with a multi-disciplinary team is an enriching and challenging experience at the same time. Therefore, I wish to contribute to the project from my perspective and learn from the experience of my colleagues.

Erika Cizek | Master’s Student | Area 1, University of Alberta

“After completing my BA in Geography at Carleton University where I undertook an undergraduate thesis focusing on housing affordability in rural Ottawa, I am looking forward to further pursuing my interest in the growing need for affordable housing solutions in rural Canada. I spent much of my childhood and adolescence in the Kootenays, where I have seen many families and individuals forced to move elsewhere due to a lack of rental housing. Through my research, I hope to contribute to the housing debate in my community and help make it accessible to those who wish to build their lives in this stunning natural landscape.”

Laura Bates | PhD Candidate, University of Alberta

Kenna McDowell | Master’s Student | Area 1, University of Alberta


Secondary Suites, Second Thoughts” – CHEC Emerging Research/Emerging Scholars Webinar
by Bon Swanson

The reticent state? Interpreting emergency responses to homelessness in Alberta, Canada
Evans, J., Stout, M., Collins, D., McDowell, K

The role of community housing in successful city building” – City Building at the University of Alberta
by Damian Collins

Preventing Evictions in Community Housing – The Best Evidence Podcast
by Damian Collins

The Right to Housing in Edmonton: What are Your Rights When Renting?The Affordable Housing Solution Lab (AHSL)
The Affordable Housing Solution Lab (AHSL) is pleased to share our 1st activity in a series focused on the Right to Housing in Edmonton. This video is a zoom recording of a Feb. 24/21 lunch & learn panel session featuring the topic: ‘What are your rights when renting?

2020 Edmonton Housing Month: Capital Region Housing and University of Alberta presentation

November 24, 2020 – New Directions in Community Housing Research, co-presented by Esther de Vos, Capital Region Housing and Damian Collins and Kenna McDowell, the University of Alberta.

[Report] LGBTQ2 Vulnerability in the Canadian Housing Sector

This report provides an overview of what is known about the experiences of LGBTQ2 people within the Canadian housing sector.

[Podcast] LGBTQ Vulnerability in the Canadian Housing Sector

Bon Swanson talks to Kenna McDowell about her student report titled “LGBTQ2 Vulnerability in the Canadian Housing Sector”.

[Report] Home-Making and Tenancy Sustainability

This report focuses on rental tenants’ ability to perform home-making practices and the subsequent effects on tenancy sustainability. It includes an original analysis of landlords’ and tenants’ rights vis-a-vis home-making practices in two Canadian provinces: Alberta and British Columbia.

[Podcast] Home-Making and Tenancy Sustainability

In this episode, Bon Swanson has a conversation with Alexandra Stout about her recently completed report titled “Home-Making and Tenancy Sustainability”.