Area IV: Understanding and Evaluating Models of Community Housing

What approaches to the organization and delivery of community housing have been developed, and how do they achieve operational efficiencies and meet diverse needs? 

The National Housing Strategy signals an intention to invest in, and collaborate with, diverse providers and models to foster a sustainable community housing system.

 It identifies organizational challenges limiting the sector’s performance, including “unsustainable operating and financing conditions”, “costs associated with deferred maintenance” and “[weak] coordination of social housing.” In response, the NHS prioritizes communities and partnerships.

Housing programs should:

  • Align with other public investments in communities (e.g. public transport, education, healthcare), implement local solutions to housing challenges, and support Canada’s climate change and accessibility commitments.

Housing policy should:

  • Centre on a “transparent and accountable partnership between [governments], the social and private sectors, and people with lived experience of housing need.” 
  • Partnerships with Indigenous housing providers “must be co-developed and founded in the values of self- determination, reconciliation, respect and cooperation.

Cooperative and co-housing models are currently under-utilized in Canada, but have the potential to improve affordability and empower residents through participatory decision-making, and may have particular value for Indigenous communities. Multi-sector partnerships between housing providers, social services, governments and financial institutions can address funding challenges, sector fragmentation and organizational inefficiencies. Potential benefits include greater inclusion of vulnerable groups and improved financial viability for more diverse housing options and improved financial viability for providers.


  1. To document organizational models used in community housing across Canada
  2. To evaluate those models against NHS priorities for communities and partnerships
  3. To assess models’ ability to meet the needs of residents, including vulnerable populations
  4. To analyze if and how models contribute to sustainability (in terms of structures that support operational efficiency) and resilience (in terms of being creative, flexible and connected).

Area Leads

Rebecca Schiff | Lakehead University

Dr. Schiff’s research investigates marginalised communities’ health and social issues across diverse urban, rural, and remote geographies. This includes a focus on determinants of community wellbeing, social service systems, and social aspects of sustainability, with an emphasis on community-engaged methodologies, community co-generation of knowledge, and integrated knowledge translation


Tom Baker | University of Auckland

Dr Baker’s research focuses on how public policies are made and implemented. Specifically, his research focuses on policies and practices related to homelessness, housing, social security, and drug treatment.

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.

Larry Murphy | University of Auckland

Dr Murphy has published widely on property topics including; homeownership, social rental housing, mortgage securitisation, office development, the institutional evolution of listed property trusts, finance capital and entrepreneurial urban governance.

Mandeep Sidhu | Lakehead University

Mandeep is researching housing cooperative residents’ perceptions of how living in their cooperative affects their health and well-being. The research frames housing cooperatives within the social economy – and seeks to support previous research to uncover if social economy organisations can act as public health interventions to reduce health inequalities. 

“My primary interests are in health inequalities and marginalized populations. I am interested in solutions to health inequalities that are decentralized and participatory in nature. Concerning housing cooperatives specifically, I believe there is enormous potential for housing cooperatives to act as interventions on numerous issues facing Canada, including, but not limited to: housing affordability; increasing civic engagement; reducing health inequalities for marginalized populations and a potential tool for socialization and integration for marginalized individuals. I am excited to continue learning about housing cooperatives and to be hearing from housing cooperatives members about their experiences.”

Jack Barrett | University of Auckland

“I’m born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand), and currently a PhD (Human Geography) student at the University of Auckland, having completed my undergraduate and Master’s study here too. My Master’s research explored community-led forms of development, documenting how a group of community enterprises reconfigured ‘development’ to meet indigenous preferences for sustainability and place-specific aspirations. I’ve also worked on a diverse range of projects including research with indigenous-led river restoration groups, and an exploration of gentrifying urban spaces in inner-city Auckland. Unifying these different research areas is an interest in social justice, equity, and alternative ways of doing things that may challenge the status quo to materialise these aspirations. Not surprisingly then, I’m really excited to be involved with Community Housing Canada and look forward to the future opportunities to cross-learn, collaborate and contribute to research that will positively impact how housing is conceptualised and practised.”

Russell Richman | Ryerson University

Dr Richman is a civil engineer and building scientist with a private consulting practice. His building science research focuses on improving energy efficiency.

In Partnership With


More than a Roof – Finding Home Post-Pandemic Through Community Housing.

January 26th, 2021 – Rebecca Schiff. Panel: Housing Post Pandemic. Simon Fraser University – Pandemonium series. January 26 2021

Schiff R. 2021. Following Up: Putting rural homelessness on the radar. Interview with Ian Kaufman.

Rebecca Schiff

Schiff, R. 2022. Focus on post-pandemic research. ResearchInfoSource. Debbie Lawes.