On the neighbourhood
Flash on my neighborhood! is an ongoing community-based participatory research program that aims to involve public housing tenants in the assessment and improvement of their residential environment (Houle et al., 2017). The ultimate objective is to increase public housing tenants’ health and well-being, and thus, reduce the socially-produced health inequalities they face compared to the general population.”
Flash on my neighborhood! was the inspiration for the Synergy project as was created to address the needs tenants of living in public housing in Canada.
There are currently more than six hundred thousand public housing units across Canada. Approximately one million people are living in this type of residential environment. They are seniors, people living alone and families with children who represent one of the most vulnerable population in the country. Even if they have access to an affordable dwelling, public housing tenants still suffer from a higher burden of physical and mental disease and have lower well-being and shorter life expectancy than the general population.
So What Is It Exactly?
Flash on my neighborhood! is an ongoing community-based participatory research program that aims to involve public housing tenants in the assessment and improvement of their residential environment (Houle et al., 2017). The ultimate objective is to increase public housing tenants’ health and well-being, and thus, reduce the socially-produced health inequalities they face compared to the general population. In our fight against social health inequalities, we must move from a science of "what" to a science of "how". Flash on my neighborhood! makes a significant and unprecedented contribution to this emerging field of research and intervention.
This intervention research program is currently implemented in six different cities in the province of Quebec. We have almost completed the four-year multiphase project in the first two cities: Montréal and Saint-Hyacinthe. The project continues in Trois-Rivières, Cowansville, Gatineau and Lévis.
What Has This Project Told Us About Public Housing So Far?
Our results highlight that public housing tenants have talents, relevant knowledge, and a sense of belonging to their community and that they are ready to invest time and energy to collectively improve their residential environment. The tenants have dire needs that really have to be addressed, but the environment also presents strengths that should be leveraged to improve the situation. We have successfully involved a hundred public housing tenants and produced tangible improvements (but too modest, we must acknowledge) in their residential environment, such as the implementation of speed reducing traffic measures, the creation of an information bulletin, and the development of new social activities
In this project so far we have learned tremendously about the well-being and residential environment in public housing. Three papers reviewed by experts in the field have already been published in scientific journals (Houle et al., 2016; Houle et al., 2017; Coulombe et al., 2017). We also won two awards for “social innovation” in a Well-Being in the City competition (Concours Rendez-vous Pile 2017).
Coulombe, S., Radziszewski, S., Morin, P., Leloup, X., Bohémier, H., & Houle, J. (2018). Using neighborhood observation to support public housing tenants’ empowerment. Action Research, 16(4), 376-395. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476750317695411
Houle, J., Coulombe, S., Radziszewski, S., Boileau, G., Morin, P., Leloup, X., … Robert, S. (2018). Public housing tenants’ perspective on residential environment and positive well-being: An empowerment-based Photovoice study and its implications for social work. Journal of Social Work, 18(6), 703–731. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017316679906
Houle, J., Coulombe, S., Radziszewski, S., Leloup, X., Saïas, T., Torres, J., & Morin, P. (2017). An intervention strategy for improving residential environment and positive mental health among public housing tenants: rationale, design and methods of Flash on my neighborhood! BMC Public Health, 17(1), 737. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4730-9
Ducharme, A. (2018, July 10). Des locataires de HLM deviennent chercheurs. TVA Nouvelles. Montréal.