Housing Assessment Resource Tools (HART)

Selected for Stage 2 funding by the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge, Round 1 – Data Driven

Register for the HART launch 

The HART project will be hosting it’s public launch on Wednesday, March 29 from 10am-12nn PST / 1pm-3pm EST. For more information and to register your place, click here.

What is HART?

The National Housing Strategy Act (2019) commits Canada to progressively realize the human right to adequate and affordable housing. Canada’s National Housing Strategy (2017-2027) has a goal of reducing by 530,000 the number of households in core housing need: in unaffordable, overcrowded and/or uninhabitable homes, who cannot afford an adequate home in their community. It also has a goal of eradicating chronic homelessness by 2030, primarily caused by lack of affordable housing.

The HART (Housing Assessment Resource Tools) project is developing standardized ways to measure and address housing need, in order to improve balanced supply of housing.

Our housing need assessment tool measures housing need by income group, in order to generate maximum housing costs (e.g. rents) that meet affordable housing needs. We measure sizes of households and proportion of equity-seeking groups (e.g. women-headed, Indigenous, disabled) in inadequate housing. We include loss of affordable housing and population projections to provide robust, equity-focused, and comparable data across Canada.

Our land assessment and acquisitions tools help governments identify well-located land and buildings that can be used to meet housing need.

Our Partners

HART has two stages. In our second stage (November 2021 to March 2023), we are working with 13 governments across Canada to roll out our methods nationally. We are adding an acquisitions assessment component to our land tool. We are developing a training course and a national database on housing needs. We are exploring policy implications of our findings.

City of Victoria

City of Edmonton

City of Calgary

City of Hamilton

Halton Region

Victoria County, Nova Scotia

Peel Region

York Region

City of Toronto

Durham Region

City of Ottawa

Ville de Gatineau

Yukon Territory


Our Prototype Publication

In our first stage (March-September 2021), we prototyped the tools in the City of Kelowna, a mid-sized (140,000) BC municipality. We also conducted a national survey on readiness for these tools.

The following prototype report demonstrates an initial methodology for HART, serving as a blueprint by outlining core concepts, data and methods before committing to a final methodology.

We would like to thank the City of Kelowna for being an exceptional partner in the prototyping process. The reader should note that some findings for the City of Kelowna in this prototype report would not be repeated in subsequent analysis due to refinement of the HART methodology.

HART-First-stage-Final-Sep-20-21 (v2)

We contributed to The Municipal Role in Housing (Institute on Municipal Finance and Government, University of Toronto, April 2022)

The Team

HART is based in UBC’s Housing Research Collaborative, which brings together a national network of relevant researchers in urban planning, law, economics, and geography.

Penny GursteinProject Lead (Lead, training)

Alexandra FlynnProject Co-Lead, (Lead, evaluation)

Craig E. JonesCoordinator

Carolyn WhitzmanExpert Advisor and Outreach

Julia HartenLead, Housing Need Assessment

James ConnollyLead, Land Assessment

Martine AugustLead, Acquisitions Assessment

Raymond NgLead, Data Management

Advisory Committee

Our Advisory Committee represents national expertise in housing need and land assessment.

Want to Know More?

Interested in knowing more about housing need and land assessment?

A little history:

Advisory Committee on Reconstruction. (1944). Housing and Community Planning: Final report of subcommittee. Ottawa: Government of Canada. Based on a housing need analysis of three income categories, the ‘Curtis Report’ recommended the Government of Canada support 33% social housing for lower income Canadians, and 33% purpose-built rental for moderate income Canadians.

Dennis, M., & Fish, S. (1972). Low-Income Housing: programs in search of a policy. Ottawa: CMHC. Based on a housing and policy analysis that focused on income categories, this report recommended the Government of Canada support 45% social and subsidized housing for low- and moderate-income Canadians, using land and home banking policies.

Yuen, B. (2007). Squatters No More: Singapore Social Housing. Global Urban Development Magazine, 3. Tells of how Singapore addressed its huge housing deficit when it became an independent nation in 1964, using a good needs assessment and aggressive land banking.

Good practices:

Lawson, J., & Ruonavaara, H. (2020). Land policy for affordable and inclusive housing: An international review. Helsinki: Smartland Research Program, University of Turku. A great recent overview of land policy for social and affordable housing.

Palm, M, Raynor, K. & Whitzman, C. (2018) Project 30,000: Producing Social and Affordable Housing on Government Land. Melbourne: University of Melbourne Transforming Housing Research Program. An example of a need and land assessment in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city.

Palm, M., & Whitzman, C. (2020). Housing need assessments in San Francisco, Vancouver, and Melbourne: normative science or neoliberal alchemy? Housing Studies, 35(5), 771-794. The politics of needs assessments, especially in relation to household income categories.

BC Government Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (2019) Guide to Requirements for Housing Needs Reports. Current Canadian best practice in municipal needs assessments.

BC Non-Profit Housing Association (2021) Canadian Rental Housing Index. Current Canadian best practice in publicly available data on rental housing affordability.

What’s Next:

British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. (2020). Disaggregated demographic data collection in British Columbia: The grandmother perspective. A strong call for disaggregated data.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities. (2020). COVID-19 and housing: Critical need, urgent opportunity. A call for a return to home banking – a national acquisitions strategy – as a way to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income households.

CERA [Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation] and National Right to Housing Network (2021) Addressing the Evictions and Arrears Crisis: Proposal for a Federal Government Residential Tenant Support Benefit. Preventing additional housing need through a comprehensive housing support benefit.

Raza, S., Biss, M., Porter, B., and Schwan, K. (2021) The Right to Housing in action: three new reports on housing law and policy. Three new reports – a gender and intersectional analysis, an analysis of the National Housing Strategy in light of Canadian human rights law, and an international overview of adequate housing – intended to influence the five-year review of the National Housing Strategy in 2022.