Calgary Wins $ 20,000 Award for Research into Indigenous Housing Stability
When senior management at Horizon Housing, a non-profit affordable housing provider, wanted to understand why so many Indigenous tenants were involuntarily leaving their homes, Calgary research consultant Nick Falvo jumped at the chance to go at the bottom of things.
While just over 10 percent of Horizon residents are Indigenous, Indigenous residents account for 44 percent of negative and unintentional exits.
Alongside a predominantly Indigenous advisory committee and in partnership with the Indigenous Standing Committee on Housing and Homelessness, Falvo studied the issue for nine months to write a commissioned report. report for Horizon Housing.
âThey said, ‘Let’s look under the hood, basically. Let’s ask ourselves the embarrassing questions, shine a light on this sad reality and try to do better,â said Falvo, who has more than two decades of experience in the market. affordable. housing sector.
He found that Horizon’s Indigenous residents wanted to feel culturally recognized and accepted, starting with regular access to cultural programs with Elders. Falvo also recommended that Horizon improve its resident orientation process and hire more Indigenous staff.
The project received $ 20,000 and the President’s Medal for Outstanding Housing Research – the highest honor awarded by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Study initiated by Horizon Logement
Horizon Housing has over 1,000 residents in Calgary who need affordable housing in 10 apartment buildings and a few smaller houses.
Ellen Close, acting director of stakeholder relations at the non-profit housing provider, says the project is part of Horizon’s larger goal of reducing negative exits.
“It is really important that we not only provide affordable, accessible and safe housing, but that we provide it in a way that residents can stay there for the long term and that it truly becomes their home,” she said. declared.
Close says her team is actively working to prevent evictions or non-renewal of residents’ leases – and this was of great concern when they realized this was happening mostly with Indigenous tenants.
âWe knew we really needed to dig deeper into why, and in particular what our role was in allowing this to happen, and where we are changing and improving what we are doing to better serve Indigenous residents. “
Falvo says the Horizon Housing team has been responsive every step of the way in their research. They encouraged him to ask important questions – even the most difficult and embarrassing ones – and not to suppress any information about the housing provider that might sound negative.
The research was conducted with a grant from the Canadian Center for Housing Transformation in Montreal, acquired for Falvo by Horizon Housing.
Research includes interviews with Indigenous residents
Falvo began the research process with 15 one-on-one interviews with Indigenous residents to better understand their experiences.
âSeveral messages came out loud, and one of them was about the need to feel more culturally accepted,â Falvo said.
Close says the information shared by residents was candid, vulnerable and generous.
âSome respondents also spoke of the occasional racism they experienced from neighbors in the building, neighborhood, staff,â Close said.
“And then almost in the same breath, would talk about wanting not only to have access to Indigenous cultural programming, but to open it up to non-Indigenous residents.”
With research like this, it’s easier to understand how to improve the problem rather than why it’s happening, Falvo says, but he had a guess.
âI think several centuries of colonization in Canada really help explain these numbers and help explain why the numbers are probably like that among many nonprofit housing providers,â Falvo said.
The report includes a number of recommendations Horizon Housing needs to implement to improve housing stability for Indigenous tenants.
Other Horizon Housing recommendations for improving the stability of Indigenous housing include more opportunities for burrs without triggering a fire alarm, improved staff training, an annual survey specifically for Indigenous residents of Horizon and others.
The $ 20,000 granted by CMHC will be used to further research, starting with an action plan for on-site cultural programming, followed by three pilot events for programming in the spring. It concludes with an evaluation of the program examining next steps, written by Falvo in the summer of 2022.