Local and Urban Politics

E09 - Housing and Homelessness

Date: Jun 13 | Time: 08:30am to 10:00am | Location:

Older Adult Tenant Precarity and Aging Policy in Québec: Contextualizing Aging-in-place and Age-friendly Policy to an Urban Housing Crisis: Meghan Joy (Concordia University)
Abstract: Québec has a policy goal for older adults to age-in-place, securely and healthfully, in their existing homes and communities. This goal is supposed to be realized through the policy Un Québec pour tous les âges (Gouvernement du Québec, 2018) as well as through the province’s policy and financial support for age-friendly cities in its municipalities. Despite this, older adults aged 65+ residing in private rental in cities in Québec are experiencing various forms of socio-territorial exclusion and marginalization related to residential precarity in an urban housing ‘market’ increasingly subject to speculation and gentrification. Moreover, while Québec introduced article 1959.1 to its Civil Code to protect renters 70+ who are low income from eviction, research suggests that some owners use psychological abuse to circumvent the law and force the departure of aging tenants (Simard, 2019). This paper consists of a policy analysis on aging-in-place policy in Québec as well as age-friendly policy in several cities experiencing housing speculation (Montréal, Longueuil, Saint-Jérôme) to examine how they frame and address the housing needs and struggles of older adults. This information is crossed with an analysis on housing policy in Québec and in the above cities to examine how they frame and address the needs of older adults. The findings suggest that age-friendly policy is decontextualized to the political economy and institutional complexities of housing in cities and that housing policy is not age-friendly. The paper concludes with recommendations to align aging and housing policy to the needs of older adult renters in cities.

Who cares about housing? Understanding housing as a salient issue in Canada: Marc-Antoine Rancourt (University of Toronto), Alison Smith (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Recent public opinion polls show that Canadians rank affordable housing as a top issue facing the country. Most Canadian respondents are claiming their own cost of living has increased this past year, and that they need to limit their spending budget on food, transportation, and debt payments. Many have also given up on ever owning a house. The literature shows that the cost and quality of one’s housing are among the most important factors influencing the quality of life, and some posit that housing only becomes a federal priority in Canada when it affects middle-class/homeowner interests. As of recently, housing is once again on the federal government's policy agenda. This brings us to wonder, is that because the issue is salient again for the middle-class and homeowners? Also, in years when housing is less salient, for whom is it salient? We look at data from before and after housing became very important to Canadians, notably due to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, to answer these questions. Few studies have investigated this puzzle, especially in Canada. Drawing from the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Canadian Election Study, we inquire into the determinants of the importance of housing as an issue in Canada. Using logistic regression analysis, we show what explains the saliency of housing as an issue for Canadian respondents and how it differs by year. We then discuss the findings in light of the literature on the subject.

Indigenous Visions of Making Home in Niagara: Joanne Heritz (Brock University), Liam Midzain-Gobin (Brock University)
Abstract: Homelessness, income, and employment factors place Indigenous Peoples as the most vulnerable demographic to secure safe and affordable housing in Canada. In 2021, Niagara’s Point-in-Time-Count indicated 665 people were experiencing homelessness, and just over 22 per cent identified as Indigenous, yet they comprise less than three per cent of Niagara’s population (Niagara 2021). Indigenous Peoples also face housing affordability challenges disproportionately in Canada. Indigenous household income is 25% lower at $54,800 compared to $70,332 for non-Indigenous and unemployment is 25% higher at 12.7 per cent compared to 7.7% (Randle et al. 2021; Thurston & Randle 2022). This paper provides an overview of past and current efforts of Niagara’s Indigenous community at sharing their housing visions. Past efforts include an analysis of documents shared by the Indigenous community regarding their vision of community safety and wellbeing and their input in regional consultation documents. Current efforts include a community-driven project that is developing an alternative vision of living together in Niagara rooted in Indigenous Knowledge. The vision centres and develops the concept of making-home, using a story-based approach. It offers the urban Indigenous community in the Niagara Region a resource to deliver their own analysis of the issues, and their vision for solutions, to housing policy makers in the Niagara Region.

Municipal Pathways to Sanctioned Encampments in Canada and the United States: Laura Pin (Wilfrid Laurier University), Nathan Ermeta (Wilfrid Laurier University), Abishane Suthakaran (Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy), Nathan Barnett (Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy)
Abstract: Homeless encampments are temporary outdoor accommodations for individuals and groups that have been established – often without permission – on public property or privately-owned land (Office of the Federal Housing Advocate, 2023). While encampments are not intended to be permanent, they have become indefinite, because of a severe shortage of affordable housing, supportive housing, and limitations of the emergency shelter system. Encampments intersect with municipal land regulation, frequently in contravention local bylaws regulating the use of public space, particularly neo-vagrancy laws limiting loitering, the erection of shelters, and the use of public spaces overnight. Encampments on private lands, even with permission of the landowner, often conflict with municipal bylaws concerning zoning, land use, and housing standards as well. Yet some municipalities have worked with community organizations to develop pathways towards the legalization – or sanctioning - of encampments under specific circumstances. Drawing on a series of semi-structured interviews with support staff and municipal officials in select jurisdictions in Canada and the United States, this paper explores municipal pathways to the development of sanctioned encampment sites. Working through Herring’s 2014 framework of spatial regulatory approaches to encampments - contested, tolerated, accommodated and co-opted – we assess how the administrative strategies through which municipalities regulate encampments impact five aspects of sanctioned encampment operations: governance, community, security; amenities and funding.