- Diverse healthy and affordable housing options are vital to overall human health and wellbeing.48 Housing protects people from potential hazards and can impact short-term and long-term health and quality of life outcomes.2
- Housing can foster positive changes in physical and mental wellbeing and quality of life, providing access to a safe, protective space where people eat, sleep, socialize, and work.
- Housing can influence people’s employment opportunities, community social cohesion, and environmental sustainability, as well as food security.49 Different housing forms, with connections to amenities and services, are necessary to support residents’ diverse needs.
- Good housing (i.e., safe, affordable, high quality) acts as a foundation for financial stability, health, and access to healthcare.50
A healthy housing environment is essential for overall human health and wellbeing. Healthy and affordable housing goes beyond protection against physical hazards. Healthy housing contributes to the social and economic resilience and prosperity for residents and for the overall community.
Example Criteria for Housing Design
What types of housing options are available?
Housing options should be diverse, affordable, and accessible regardless of socioeconomic status.12,13,16 Housing tenure options can include home ownership, market housing, government-owned housing, affordable housing units, and supportive housing.
Diverse housing options are needed to accommodate the variety of needs of all people. People’s housing needs often change throughout their life course. It is important to consider housing in relation to aging-in-place, and fluctuations in family structures and income. For example, as we age we may need to move or consider upgrading features of our homes for better accessibility, safe daily functioning, and quality of life.
Are the housing types all the same (homogeneous) or different (heterogeneous)?
Housing diversity, or heterogeneity, influences housing market value, and can have socio-economic and wellbeing related implications within a community.51 Housing options in neighbourhoods should reflect and accommodate a diversity of family structures and living arrangements, abilities, aging-in-place considerations, and supportive and subsidized living needs.
What options are available for multi-generational living?
Multi-generational homes can have many health and wellbeing benefits for individuals and families. Multi-generational living is associated with increases in social capital and reduced financial strain.52
Intergenerational housing programs, like the one recently launched by the Centre for Health and Aging Innovation at New York University, provide creative housing strategies for graduate students and older adults (60+ years of age).53 This intergenerational home share program recruits first-generation university students, racial and ethnic minorities, women, and individuals who are living alone to share housing, with a goal to increase housing stability, economic security, and social connections.53
What housing programs and supports are available?
Housing programs and supports are effective for reducing houselessness and achieving better housing stability.54 Supportive, safe, and affordable housing options can help people to live independently within their existing communities, and to access necessary resources and services.
Multi-generational homes with increased household sizes have been associated with lower resource consumption and waste production.55
Economic Recovery Considerations
Limited housing options reduce social and economic participation.1 Lack of diverse and/or affordable housing across a community can drive people to areas that have poorer access to employment, health services, retail and food businesses.8,30 Neighbourhood housing heterogeneity can influence housing market value, with socio-economic implications for communities.51
Pandemic Recovery Considerations
COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of housing as a basic right for all individuals. Through COVID-19 recovery, it is critical to address the extent of job losses and home evictions that have occurred and consider social support and safety net programs to ensure adequate and accessible housing stability for everyone.56
Investments in wrap-around supportive services are important to help individuals and families address multiple complex needs, including housing. Wrap-around services use a strengths-based approach and build on the existing capacity and assets of individuals and families.148
Did you know?
Over 6% of private households in Canada are multigenerational?59 In Alberta, 2.8% of the population live in multi-generational households.60
Key Housing Considerations for:
Consider what housing options are available in your community given your personal circumstances and values. Consider options that can support you financially, by reducing your debt-to-income ratio, as well as socially (e.g., shared living arrangements) and environmentally (e.g., higher energy efficiency housing).
Consider the benefits of having diverse housing options to cater towards a broad consumer population. Features such as in-law suites and fully developed basement suites may be desirable for clients who want multigenerational living options with cost-saving advantages for families.61
Consider designing and planning communities with diverse populations and housing options to avoid displacement, gentrification, and residential segregation.62 Housing diversity creates diverse and sustainable communities with the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of the community, sustaining families, and accommodating a growing senior population.63,64
Consider the housing needs of communities and scale projects to align with the neighbourhood and its residents. Involve community members in the design of the buildings to foster a sense of ownership and ensure it reflects population needs (e.g., layout, common areas) and community vision. Check out the The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation housing programs that are available to help Canadian builders and developers. The examples they provide include affordable housing project solutions from Alberta and other provinces and territories.65
Consider municipal strategies that support the provision of affordable housing. Creating a regulatory environment that supports diverse and affordable housing, alongside financial incentives and partnerships, can help address community housing needs. For ideas and examples, check out these strategies provided by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.66