New and Exciting Housing Assessment Resource Tools (HART)

  31 March 2023

The Housing Assessment Resource Tools (HART) is a project based at the University of British Columbia. It aims to provide evidence-based assessment tools and strategies to improve housing outcomes in Canada. HART is a valuable resource for anyone interested in affordable housing policy and research.

HART is a collaborative effort between academic researchers, community partners, and policy makers. They all work together to create practical solutions for improving housing outcomes across the country. The tools were developed by the UBC Housing Research Collaborative. This is a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Penny Gurstein at UBC and Dr. Carolyn Whitzman from the University of Ottawa. Researchers from the University of Waterloo and from different departments across UBC also contributed to the project.

The HART team is working with governments, housing providers, and advocates across Canada to redefine how we measure and address housing need.

Housing Assessment Resource Tools

HART focuses on developing housing assessment tools. This enable researchers, policymakers, and community groups to evaluate the housing requirements of diverse populations. The tools rely on evidence-based methodologies that draw from comprehensive research and analysis of housing data, as well as the experiences and needs of those directly affected by housing policies and practices.

Housing Data Tools

A slide showing an overview of the Housing Assessment Resource Tools.

HART has also developed a range of assessment tools that are specifically tailored to different populations and contexts. They provide data tools that offer detailed information on housing supply and demand. Before HART, there wasn’t a standardized method in Canada to assess housing needs by income and future population growth at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Instead, planners have typically used a variety of tools with mixed results.

  • Housing Need Assessment Tool. This is a census-based tool that measures core housing need and affordable shelter costs by income category, household size, and priority populations. Our methods allow governments to set effective housing targets that will lift Canadians out of chronic housing need and homelessness.
  • Land Assessment Tool. This mapping tool assesses suitable public land for non-profit affordable housing, based on proximity to key services and amenities. It allows governments to effectively use land, including housing on top (of libraries, health centres etc.) to maximize deeply affordable homes.
  • Property Acquisitions Tool. A policy-based tool that help prevent the loss of affordable housing through property acquisition by governments, non-profit housing providers and Community Land Trusts.
A slide showing an example of the Property Acquisitions Tool

Mapping Tool

An interactive mapping tool is a key feature of the platform. It allows users to visualize data on a range of housing-related topics. These include rental affordability, housing supply and demand, and demographic trends. The map can be customized to focus on specific geographies. Users can filter data by a range of variables such as income, household size, and tenure type. This makes it a powerful tool for exploring and analyzing housing data at a granular level.

A slide showing HART's mapping tool.

Other Resources

HART also contains other useful resources, including a glossary of housing terms and resources and further readings.

Intended Audiences

These tools can be used by anyone. HART’s data is open-source, replicable, and easy-to-use. They use the most reliable, robust disaggregated data in Canada to deliver insights into housing for every community.

  • Government: Government works to meet the needs of present and future residents. They want to improve housing outcomes, including preventing homelessness.
  • Housing sector: Housing developers and providers, both for profit and non-profit, supply the homes Canadians need. This includes the Community Land Trust. They want to know what kinds of housing need there is to best serve communities.
  • Public: The general public wants clear and easy-to-understand data and information about housing. This will enable residents to comprehend the decisions made in their community and advocate for better outcomes.

Data Transparency

One of the most impressive aspects of HART is its commitment to data transparency and accessibility. Anyone interested in affordable housing policy and research can download and use all the data and tools available through HART, as they are publicly accessible. This level of transparency and openness is critical for building trust and engagement with community stakeholders. It also ensures that housing policy decisions are based on accurate and up-to-date data.

Looking Forward

A slide showing areas for future work, including training, supporting governments, and data advocacy.

Overall, the UBC Housing Assessment Resource Tools (HART) is an important resource for anyone interested in affordable housing policy and research in Canada. By providing evidence-based assessment tools and strategies, HART is helping to ensure that housing policies and practices are responsive to the needs and experiences of diverse populations, and that everyone in Canada has access to safe, affordable, and appropriate housing.

The collaborative nature of HART’s work brings together academic researchers, community partners, and policy makers. This a testament to the power of interdisciplinary collaboration in addressing complex social issues such as affordable housing.