Current research projects

Business transformation and resiliency

Resilience in the housing sector exists at both the individual and organizational level. Individual members create their own capacity as well as a collective capacity for resilience that in turn contributes to the creation of a resilient community and organization. Drawing on this understanding of the individual and organizational resilience as entwined, this research seeks to understand and define the resiliency of housing providers through the capacity of staff to address challenges and thrive, including the role of leadership to envision and enact business transformation. This project is funded by a two-year research grant from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Social and affordable housing in communities

This research investigates the neighbourhood impacts of community housing developments, including emerging best practices for mitigating “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) responses at the local community level. It also examines the realities of how social and affordable housing impacts communities in terms of property values, crime rates, etc. This research is focused on both urban and rural contexts. This project is funded by a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

Sustainability of the community housing sector

Community Housing Canada is part of an independent, Canada-wide partnership between academics and community partners with the mandate to create and mobilize knowledge. This project entails five areas of inquiry with one additional cross cutting theme:

  1. What is the role of the community housing sector in fulfilling the right to housing?
  2. What approaches to building and design of community housing will best address changing environmental and social demands?
  3. How can community housing achieve goals of social inclusion within buildings and neighbourhoods?
  4. What approaches to the organization and delivery of community housing have been developed, and how do they achieve operational efficiencies and meet diverse needs?
  5. Should community housing be understood as a social good or as essential infrastructure, and what are the implications of these understandings for investment in the sector?

Cross-cutting theme: how will a sustainable, resilient community housing sector meet the needs of the 12 priority vulnerable groups identified in the National Housing Strategy?

Esther de Vos, Civida’s Director of Policy, Research and Education, is the Research Broker on this project, and the organization itself is the lead community partner. This project involves a five-year grant.

Tenant engagement and demand maintenance

This research examines how empowering tenants to take preventative action against common demand maintenance concerns affects their tenancy and overall demand maintenance requests. Demand maintenance, also called unplanned maintenance, are concerns that usually arise accidentally and are therefore nearly impossible to accurately forecast. Demand maintenance also interrupts tenants’ enjoyment of their tenancy because of maintenance issues and because of interruptions from service workers hired to fix the issue. This research project will build off of tenant experiences to generate tools and resources that all tenants can use to prevent demand maintenance issues and ultimately empower tenants to have more agency in their tenancy.

Past research projects

Eviction prevention in social and affordable housing

Little research exists on evictions in social and affordable housing, and even less on eviction prevention practices in this sector. This project explored emerging eviction prevention practices in social and affordable housing in Edmonton. Our findings show that evictions are a complicated process for both tenants and housing providers, and most commonly occur because of rent arrears. Housing providers try to prevent evictions, and towards this end, they have adopted four broad eviction prevention practices, centred on financial management, regular communication with tenants, provision of tenant supports and community development. However, housing providers are often constrained in their ability to prevent evictions, in particular by human resource and financial limitations. These challenges lead to complex negotiations between housing providers’ social mandates to provide affordable housing to vulnerable households and their regulatory and operational environments. This project was funded by Homeward Trust Edmonton as a Community Based Research Project.

Read the published article

A measurement framework: social sustainability in social and affordable housing

Canada’s National Housing Strategy and many provincial and territorial housing strategies stress the need to create financial, environmental and social sustainability in the social and affordable housing sector. While all three dimensions are important, social sustainability is often the dimension least explored. To address this gap, this project looked at ways to operationalize social sustainability in a social and affordable housing context. The framework identifies four key dimensions for social sustainability in the sector including housing standards, non-housing needs, community integration and social inclusion, and capacity building and resiliency. Each of these four dimensions are then defined and explored. Finally, we suggest ways to operationalize these dimensions through example measures and data sources.

Tenant well-being

Well-being is of increasing interest to organizations and governments alike as a way to measure how people are doing beyond economic measures like income. Likewise, Civida is continuing to move towards more inclusive and holistic measures to assess customers’ needs and successes. In May 2017, the organization conducted its first well-being survey for tenants, followed by a second well-being survey in 2019. The results from these surveys helped to inform business plan priorities and programs, as well as policies and supports for tenants. You can read about the results from the 2019 Tenant Well-being Report or check out this 2019 Well-being Report infographic. The next well-being survey is scheduled for Spring 2021.

What is well-being?

There are many definitions of well-being, but generally, well-being is understood as a positive focus on the dimensions and experiences that contribute to quality of life and human potential, including relationships, meaning and achievement in life and living standards. Well-being can be understood both objectively, focusing on quantitative indicators like income and employment, and subjectively, focusing on individuals’ experiences and perceptions; we focus on subjective well-being in this survey.

Thank you to all the tenants who share their time and thoughts with us on these surveys.

Research with Civida

Looking to collaborate with Civida on a research project?

Civida is open to collaborating with students and non-profit organizations on research projects that advance and mobilize the community housing sector’s knowledge and capacity. Examples of projects we partner on include students’ capstone projects, literature reviews or project plans.

If you are interested in partnering with Civida on a research study or project, please contact [email protected]. We are always interested in exploring potential partnerships and new opportunities!

If you are interested in conducting research involving Civida, including tenants, subsidy recipients, applicants and/or staff, please make a request in writing, clearly outlining the purpose, scope and information needed for the research. Research requests can be sent to [email protected]. A research agreement must be signed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, section 9 and section 42. Any relevant and required ethics approval must be obtained before information or data may be shared.