Authors: Ghazaleh Akbarnejad*, Simon Fraser University, Lainey Martin, Undergraduate student, Simon Fraser University, Meg Holden, Professor, Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University, Atiya Mahmood, Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University, Meghan Winters, Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University
Keywords: Social connectedness, Multi-unit affordable rental housing, COVID-19 pandemic, Research-practice partnership
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Residents of high-density, rental, and affordable housing experience fewer social connections, which leads to measurable impacts on residents’ health and well-being. This research explores the state of social connection in multi-unit residential buildings and takes a research-practice partnership approach to generate opportunities for neighbourliness through social programming, physical space interventions, information sharing, and trust-building work.
Researchers co-developed a resident well-being and social connectedness survey with two affordable housing providers, administered to over 1000 households living in 30 multi-unit affordable rental buildings in British Columbia. Survey results include demographic data, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities and barriers to connections with neighbours, places of interactions, and health and well-being factors that may relate to social connectedness.
In terms of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related lifestyle changes, while a small proportion of survey respondents believed that their relationships with neighbours and sense of community had deteriorated, a greater proportion believed that these same conditions had improved. Moreover, residents reported more deterioration than improvement in their feelings of safety from theft or violence during this time.
Respondents reported a variety of challenges and limitations in their ability to interact socially with their neighbours, including trade-offs with privacy and improvements in the places of interaction such as common areas in their buildings. As well, there were relationships found between some independent demographic variables such as length of tenure and the number of close friends with some of the sociability and well-being indicators like sense of belonging and happiness.