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 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 housing as a human right. To achieve this goal, 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

Laura Bates, MA
University of Alberta

Laura’s research uses a human rights framework to analyze the role of the community housing sector in realizing the right to housing. The study will also develop a rights-based tool in collaboration with the sector, to enable community housing providers to evaluate how existing and proposed initiatives can respect, protect and fulfil the right to housing.

“I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where I rapidly developed a passion for social science research. My previous research interests have been diverse, including recreational camping, youth disability, aging in place, island communities, and precarious housing. Since beginning my PhD at the University of Alberta in 2019, I have learned so much about social and non-market housing in the Canadian context, and about the challenges and priorities of the community housing sector. I feel privileged to be involved in this collaborative research team, and I am looking forward to assisting the sector in realizing the right to housing.”

In Partnership With