Community-led housing in the Canadian North: mobilizing the development of supportive housing plans through knowledge sharing and engagement in the NWT and Nunavut
Housing insecurity and homelessness in Canada's North have been the focus of significant social and political concern for the past two decades. Despite the growing body of research that documents factors contributing to homelessness and quantifies rates of core housing need, the northern housing crisis continues to deepen. Social policy concerning homelessness tends to focus on visible homelessness in northern urban centres, neglecting the significance of housing need in smaller settlements to broader northern geographies of homelessness, as well as the urgency of hidden homelessness, and the relationships between overcrowding, stress and psychological distress in smaller northern communities. Northern communities are thus calling for support to develop and implement supportive housing programs that directly address their needs, sustain health and healthy relationships, and promote culturally-embedded meanings attached to homemaking and individual, family and community health. This multi-‐scaled, multi-sited and interdisciplinary research program integrates: 1) a robust analysis of existent territorial statistical data to examine the variation in housing needs and relationships between housing, health and wellbeing; 2) in-depth interviews with support providers, policymakers and community members to define and qualify northern housing insecurity and homelessness; and 3) participatory, action-‐oriented workshops designed to collaboratively assess community housing needs, identify key gaps in housing-‐ and home-‐related supports, and develop comprehensive, community-‐based supportive housing strategies in four research communities. This research will engage directly with the NWT Housing Corporation's (NWTHC) 2018 Strategic Renewal, the GNWT’s Homelessness Strategic Plan, the Nunavut Roundtable for Poverty Reduction under the Makimaniq 2 Plan: A Shared Approach to Poverty Reduction, the 2016 Nunavut Housing Corporation’s (NHC) Blueprint for Action on Housing, the 2018 Polar Knowledge Canada Northern Housing Forum report, the forthcoming ITK Inuit Housing Strategy, and the 2017 National Housing Strategy, which highlights the right to housing and "a place to call home" for northern and Indigenous peoples as key components in self-‐determination and reconciliation.