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NSERC CCSIF Grant Enables Research into Affordable Housing in south Etobicoke
June 10, 2020
Salomeh Ahmadi, Principal Investigator and faculty member in Humber’s Faculty of Social and Community Services, can imagine a day when all renters, including students and seniors, in south Etobicoke can consistently access affordable housing.
Having grown up in south Etobicoke, Salomeh is familiar with some of the unique challenges the community faces, including the population increasing at twice the rate of the city average over the last ten years.
When she heard about NSERC’s College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) call for proposals last year, she knew she wanted to get involved. She reached out to several community groups to understand some of the obstacles they were facing and determine an appropriate research focus area.
The idea of working alongside communities is of great interest to Salomeh since she has worked with community since she was in high school and more recently completed her MBA with a focus on community economic development. LAMP Community Health Centre was a natural choice as a community partner since Salomeh both worked there and participated as a youth in their programming.
With the support of Humber’s Office of Applied Research & Innovation, her proposal, “Affordable Housing Needs in South Etobicoke,” was submitted to NSERC in December. She was thrilled when she learned her project had received funding.
“This project allows for genuine collaborative work,” says Salomeh. “We will use community-based participatory research to involve Canadian residents from research design to solutions and outcomes…enabling empowerment, buy-in and longer-term sustainability.”
She is particularly excited about addressing the spectrum of topics related to housing affordability and average market rent. “If you’re spending more than 30 per cent of your annual income on housing, and some are spending closer to 50 per cent, that impacts your wellbeing in a lot of different ways,” says Salomeh.
This research study also presents substantial opportunities for community development students to act as researchers and outreach workers on the project. Salomeh will be training students to conduct community-based participatory research, and the work enables students to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Conducting an environment scan is the first project milestone. Lakeshore Affordable Housing Advocacy and Action Group, a collaborator on the project, recently hosted a virtual community meeting to begin to understand south Etobicoke’s challenges. Salomeh looks forward to working with the community and the research team over the next three years to co-develop solutions.