Area III: Fostering Social Inclusion Through Community Housing

How can inclusion be conceptualized, measured and achieved in the community housing sector?

Adequate housing includes access to employment opportunities, health-care services, good transit, schools, and other childcare facilities. Residents should live in communities that are diverse, sustainable, and supported to build secure, productive and meaningful lives.

Locating community housing in sustainable neighbourhoods with social and economic diversity, public transit, and pedestrian orientation has been a difficult goal to realize. Instead, it tends to be located in lower-amenity areas, as well-situated land is often prohibitively expensive.

Our Objectives:

  1. To investigate barriers to and opportunities for social inclusion within neighbourhoods and buildings
  2. To develop a broader set of measures for neighbourhood-level inclusion, drawing on alternative framings of accessibility;81
  3. To document community housing residents’ experiences of inclusion and integration
  4. To examine how inclusion contributes to community housing sustainability (in terms of being people-oriented) and resilience (in terms of meeting tenant needs).

Area Lead

Cameron Fitch Photo UNB

Julia Woodhall-Melnik | University of New Brunswick

I lead HOME-RL which focuses on producing dynamic and relevant research on housing affordability, health and social inclusion through housing. HOME-RL houses many different research projects that all have a common goal of promoting resilient and inclusive communities through better understandings of and solutions for housing affordability.

I am an Associate Professor in Social Science at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. I hold the Canada Research Chair in Resilient Communities and am the Principal Investigator of the Housing, Mobilization & Engagement Research Lab (HOME-RL). I am a strong advocate for poverty reduction, affordable housing, and social inclusion for individuals who experience mental illness, systemic discrimination, and challenges related to relative income inequality.


Ed Hall | University of Dundee

Dr Hall specializes in disability, learning disability, social inclusion/exclusion, and belonging.

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

André-Anne Parent | Université de Montréal

Dr Parent is an expert in social inequalities and public policy analysis. 

Yushu Zhu | Simon Fraser University

Dr Zhu’s research focuses on housing and community issues against the backdrop of urbanization and globalization. She pays special attention to communities of immigrants, low-income populations, and ethnic minorities.

Chloé Reiser | University of New Brunswick

“Dr Reiser’s research in social and urban geography investigates the impacts of public policies and housing market transformations on vulnerable migrants’ residential trajectories. As part of the Area of Inquiry 3, her research will be focused on social inclusion in community housing with an emphasis on multicultural and newcomer communities.”

“I really appreciate that research at Community Housing Canada is conducted in partnership with community housing groups. During my PhD, I too volunteered with tenants’ rights organizations in Montreal and organized many activities in co-ops and nonprofit housing, which gave me a better understanding of the real housing issues experienced by immigrant families and strengthened my commitment to the Right to Housing and the Rights of Migrants.”

Rob Wilton | McMaster University

Dr Wilton’s research is broadly concerned with the social geographies of exclusion. Much of his research has focused specifically on the experiences of people with disabilities.


Imad Dweik | University of New Brunswick

I will be studying the prevalence of depressive and anxious symptomatology among households in New Brunswick on the public housing waiting list and its association with self-reported income, assuming they are all low-income.

There is a significant inverse relationship between anxiety and depressive symptomology and income in this group. The findings will benefit governments and policymakers who are in charge of advocating and shaping policy on housing, income, and mental health. The literature would benefit from a natural experiment study design that can isolate the impact of an intervention better than standard regression techniques.
This study will also have implications for other jurisdictions/countries that also experience relative income inequality and experience demographic changes similar to those that have already happened in New Brunswick (e.g., ageing population and high rate of childhood poverty, etc.).

The health realities of low-income populations in New Brunswick are not well understood, and mental health outcomes associated with access to stable tenancies through affordable housing programs are yet to be explored. This research project will be the first to search the impact of housing subsidies and the public affordable housing system on anxiety and depression in New Brunswick.

My work experience in different sectors taught me that health is just a feature of many factors surrounding us; the pervasive socioeconomic determinants ( housing, poverty, employment, educational level, income…etc.). In addition, my interdisciplinary qualifications in the medical field, public health, and epidemiology combined provide me with the skills and knowledge to conduct this transdisciplinary research.

Sabine O’Donnell | McMaster University

Sabine’s anticipated research area will focus on fostering inclusion in social housing, as part of Area of Inquiry III in the Community Housing Canada Project. Specifically, she is hoping to research how people with disabilities navigate social housing and the challenges they face in doing so. The hope of this research is to identify ways in which social housing can be made more accessible to those with disabilities.

“My undergraduate degree in Geography from McMaster University focused heavily on geographies of exclusion in cities, particularly with regards to gentrification of urban spaces and the inaccessibility of cities for people with disabilities. I am hoping that the work I do on this project will help to reduce those barriers to access that people with disabilities face within cities, and particularly within housing. I feel privileged to be able to work with this team, and hope that the work that comes out of this project will be able to create a more equitable housing experience in Canada.”

Aoife Campbell-Franks | University of Dundee

“This research is a comparative project between the UK and Canada. My research aims to use the disruptions and new ways of thinking caused by the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink and improve the provision of social housing for people with disabilities. The project also aims to highlight the importance of formal and informal networks involved in supporting and making possible independent living and inclusion in communities.

“Growing up with a mother who is physically impaired and a brother with autism I have been conscious of the discriminatory and exclusionary barriers that disabled people face, which is why I am particularly interested in this branch of research. I am passionate about making the experience of social housing more inclusive and I am excited about using co-productive methodologies (working in collaboration with disabled people and social housing providers) in my project to achieve this. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Community Housing Canada and hope that a comparative approach will provide positive improvements for both nations.”

In Partnership With


Fostering Social Inclusion through Community Housing: Year 1 Report
This report introduces Area of Inquiry III: Fostering Social Inclusion through Community Housing and gives an overview of the Area’s activities in its first year of operations.

Stratégies résidentielles des familles immigrantes en quartier tremplinC. ReiserJournée d’étude du Réseau d’Etudes Urbaines Nord-Américaines (February 2021)
Webinar House and home: Capital and migrantsC. ReiserCERC in Migration and Integration, Ryerson University, Toronto (June 2021)
Quand le communautaire prend le relais : réponses du tiers-secteur au mal-logement dans deux quartiers tremplins d’immigration à MontréalC. ReiserJournée d’étude Produire la ville sans argent, Labex Dynamite, GT Penser la production de l’urbain entre Nords et Suds (June 2021)
Intervention de proximité auprès des résidents de HLM de Montréal et QuébecParent, A-A. et Reiser, C.Midis InterActions, CIUSSS du nord de l’île, Montréal (April 2021)
The Unprotected and Ignored Renter: Movement toward rental policy reform, poverty reduction, and vibrant communities in Saint JohnJ. Woodhall-MelnikTertulias Fredericton
National Housing Week Saint John: Local Community NeedsJ. Woodhall-MelnikHOME-RL at the Saint John City Market
New Brunswick’s Housing CrisisJ. Wright with J. Woodhall-MelnikInformation Saint John CBC (2022/3/23)
New Brunswick Releases Five Year Mental Health Plan, CBC Radio with Julia Wright (2021/2/24).
J. Wright with J. Woodhall-Melnik

Information morning CBC News
Good news for Coverdale Centre for WomenJ. Wright spoke with professor J. Woodhall-MelnikInformation morning CBC News
New Rent Caps in the Yukon, CBC Whitehorse, Yukon (2021/5/17).E. Jones spoke with professor J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
Kitchen Talk: EP05: Tenants’ RightsJ. Woodhall-Melnik with host CherylBell Fibe TV
Community’s rescue of Saint John transitional housing project ‘almost miraculous’ (2022/03/17)H. Ibrahim interviewed J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
Elderly renters given short notice of 43 per cent rent hike (2022/01/07)R. Jones interviewed J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
N.B. government opens investigation into Fredericton rent increases (2021/12/22)R. Jones interviewed J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
N.B. landlords, tenants groups pan property tax cut (2022/03/23)R. Jones interviewed J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
Cities push for affordable housing, but what does ‘affordable’ really mean? (2022/03/31)L. Bird interviewed J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
Councillor votes against project in own ward to make point about affordable units (2022/03/15)L. Bird interviewed J. Woodhall-MelnikCBC News
Commentary on Vandenberg et al.: The next step of developing and testing evidence-based interventions for older adults who experience problem gambling and homelessnessJ. Woodhall-Melnik and F. MathesonAddiction
Quand les groupes communautaires prennent le relais : réponses du tiers-secteur au mal-logement dans deux quartiers tremplins d’immigration de MontréalReiser, C.Lien Social et Politiques, no. 87 (in press)
Before displacement. Campus-led gentrification, studentification and rental market transformation in a multiethnic neighborhood (Parc-Extension, Montreal) (accepted)Jolivet, V., Reiser, C., Baumann, Y. et Gonzales, R.Urban Geography (accepted)
La gentrification par projet. Politiques publiques et revalorisation des quartiers péricentraux, le cas du Campus MIL à Montréal (accepted)Jolivet, V. et Reiser, C.Métropoles (accepted)
Intervention de proximité auprès de résidents d’habitations à loyer modique de Montréal et QuébecParent, A.-A.; Reiser, C.; Tourillon-Gingras, S.Nouvelles pratiques sociales (submitted)
A Systematic Review of the Relationship between Mental Health and Publicly Subsidized Rental HousingI. Dweik and J. Woodhall-MelnikInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Associations of resilience with quality of life levels in adults experiencing homelessness and mental illness: a longitudinal study (March 2021)C. Mejia-Lancheros, J. Woodhall-Melnik and 4 othersHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
Living with disaster: exploring complex decisions to stay in or leave flood prone areas (June 2021)J. Woodhall-Melnik & E. WeissmanHousing Studies
Chapitre 3 : Métropolisation et espaces urbains dans les AmériquesReiser, C.Géopolitiques des Amériques, Paris, Nathan (in press)
Help the Coverdale Centre for Women: An urgent call to support a needed transitional housing projectReiser, C., Woodhall-Melnick, J. and Leblanc-Haley, T.NB Media Co-op (March 2022)
Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit leaves out many facing housing crisisReiser, C. et Woodhall-Melnick, J.NB Media Co-op (February 2022)
Migrants bear the brunt of Canada’s worsening housing crisisC. ReiserOpen Democracy (September 2021)
Discriminations en matière de logement et pistes d’action pour l’arrondissement Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-ExtensionReiser, C. et Breault, G.Rapport de recherche de l’Association des Locataires de Villeray (ALV) pour le Bureau d’intégration des nouveaux arrivants de la ville de Montréal (BINAM) (June 2021)
Intervention de proximité auprès de résidents d’habitations à loyer modique de Montréal et QuébecParent, A.-A. et Reiser, C.5 briefs
Revisiting Residential Instability for Immigrant Families through Mixed Methods and Longitudinal AnalysisC. ReiserAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Meeting (February 2022)
Revisiting Residential Instability for Immigrant Families through Mixed Methods and Longitudinal AnalysisC. ReiserSymposium Inégalités, quartiers, pandémie : réflexions et prospectives, Partenariat de recherche sur les quartiers en transition (PRQT) et partenariat Immigration et résilience en milieu urbain (IRMU) (February 2022)
Quand les groupes communautaires prennent le relaJulia: réponses du tiers-secteur au mal-logementC. ReiserInternational Conference of the ISTR – ARIMA colloquium (July 2021)
Soutien communautaire en OSBL d’habitation et point de vue des familles immigrantes à Parc-Extension et Saint-Michel, MontréalC. ReiserCongrès annuel de l’ACFAS, Colloque 403 (May 2021)
Intervention de proximité auprès des résidents de HLM de Montréal et QuébecParent, A.-A.Congrès annuel de l’ACFAS, Colloque 403 (May 2021)
Local networks and outreach interventions among residents of social housing units, Quebec, CanadaParent, A.-A.International Conference of the ISTR (July 2021)
Discussant for “Urban housing, social connections, and COVID-19” session organized by Meg Holden & Yushu ZhuWilton R.Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting (April 2021)
“New Brunswick Housing Study” (August, 2021)Dweik, I., Fox, E., Monette, C., Matheson, F.I., Doucet, S., Luke, A., Nisenbaum, R., Woodhall-Melnik, J (senior)UNB Health Research Conference: Virtual Conference
“Here We Go Again: Investigating residents’ experiences of mental health & service needs following back-to-back floods of the Wolastoq” (June 2021)Woodhall-Melnik, J.Canadian Sociological Association Conference: Virtual Conference
Debate Moderator: Ward 2Julia Woodhall-Melnik
Housing Week: 3 events Photo exhibit of the participatory photography process on housing affordability, Evening screening and facilitation of the roundtable on Push (Fredrik Gertten’s documentary), Coffee discussion with housing professionals from the Saint John areaJ. Woodhall-Melnick C. Monette C. ReiserUniversity of New Brunswick HOME-RL (November 2021)
Receipt of Canada Research Chair in Resilient Communities (Tier 2 SSHRC)Julia Woodhall-Melnik