Having a place to live that is safe, affordable and secure is key to our well-being. That’s why Dr. Catherine Leviten-Reid, Associate Professor at CBU, is so passionate about her work in the field of affordable housing. Recently, that passion and dedication has earned Dr. Leviten-Reid and her team a $1.3 million investment from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to lead a national research initiative on the importance of affordable rental housing for those in greatest need.
“We want to understand how different kinds of affordable rental housing impacts the lives of marginalized individuals and families,” says Dr. Leviten-Reid. “The pandemic has definitely exposed the fault lines in terms of those who are vulnerable in our community and why investments in housing are so important.”
Dr. Leviten-Reid explains that people who rent are much more vulnerable than people who own their own homes and that this has been dramatically exposed during the pandemic. “If you are living in crowded housing and have to quarantine, what do you do? If you are couch surfing at a friend’s place, where do you go when they ask you to leave? What do you do if you’re in an abusive relationship amidst the ‘stay at home’ orders?”
Led by Dr. Leviten-Reid and her team of scholars from across the country, in partnership with local and national non-profit organizations, the work will be aimed at informing affordable housing policies and programs nationwide and be completed over the next five years. The research will compare different housing approaches, such as public housing and rental subsidies to be used in private market rental housing.
A significant part of the funding will be used to allow students to work as research assistants. Dr. Leviten-Reid has recently hired CBU Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate, Will Roy, to serve as project coordinator, while current MBA student, Aija Deng, is working as a research assistant. The investment will also allow the team to invite those who have experienced housing insecurity first hand to join the work as researchers and be involved in planning meetings.
“The partnered research we have conducted with CBU over the past few years has been highly relevant and impactful,” says Fred Deveaux, Executive Director of Cape Breton Community Housing Association. “This is an incredible opportunity to continue that work, to partner with others across the country, and to inform affordable housing policy and practice here and across Canada.”