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Housing for female-led families : the potential to go beyond shelter Mackniak, Cheryl A. 1994

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Housing for Female-Led Families:The Potential to Go Beyond ShelterbyCheryl A. MackniakBachelor of ArtsA THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMaster’s of ArtsinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSchool of Community and Regional PlanningWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNWERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember, 19940 Cheryl A. Mackniak, 1994Signature(s) removed to protect privacyIn presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signatue)Department of (ciwi;k ckr-(4 ‘?Y,) (Jr1’t)The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate o/4DE-6 (2/88)Signature(s) removed to protect privacySignature(s) removed to protect privacySignature(s) removed to protect privacyABSTRACTAs the numbers of ‘non-traditional’ families, particularly single parentfamilies increases, so do the number of associated problems, including findingadequate and affordable housing. These problems are attributed to a number offactors including: the inherent inequities in the primarily private market combinedwith the low economic status of these families; and housing policy which focuses onhome ownership for the middle class ignoring the needs, and limiting the optionsavailable to renters such as single parents. This thesis examines the currenthousing situation faced by single parents in Canada, including their needs and theoptions available to them.The profile of single parent families is one which is predominately headed bywomen, who overall have a lower education than men, as well as married women;and under the age of 65 have the lowest incomes in Canada. This profile placesthese families in a difficult position vis-a-vis other families, particularly in thecompetitive housing markets that exist in larger centers, like Vancouver.Discrimination is often experienced when looking for housing, and insecure tenure,poor, inappropriate housing and inaccessible locations often plague single motherswhen they do find somewhere to live.The case study examined found that there were many serious implicationsdue to the lack of affordable and adequate shelter. The often overwhelming burden offinding stable housing led to many physical and emotional problems, homelessness,and the break-up of families, adversely affecting esteem and a personal sense ofpower. However, the results of this study indicate that alternative housing, such asthe one studied in this thesis, can provide an affordable option for single parentfamilies that not only more adequately meets the needs of these families, butprovide concomitant benefits as well. In light of the continuing withdrawal of11government funding for social housing, these far-reaching benefits are perhapstimely to consider when examining housing policy.UITABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT iiLIST OF FIGURES viiACKNOWLEDGMENT viii1.0 INTRODUCTION 11.1 Purpose 11.2 Research Philosophy 21.3 Scope 41.4 Definitions 41.5 Research Approach 51.6 Organization of Thesis 62.0 A PROFILE OF THE SINGLE PARENT FAMILY 82.1 Growth 82.2 Gender Composition 102.3 Social Characteristics 102.3.1 Education 102.3.2 Marital Status 112.3.3 Age 122.4 Economic Characteristics 122.4.1 Occupation 122.4.2 Income 142.5 Housing Characteristics 152.5.1 Tenure Distribution 162.5.2 Quality ofHousing Facilities 172.6 Summary 173.0 HOUSING AND SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES 193.1 Changing Structure of the Canadian Family 193.2 Housing Needs 203.2.1 Affordability 213.2.2 Accessibility 213.2.3 Availability 223.2.4 Security of Tenure 23iv3.2.5 Appropriateness of Facilities for Children .233.2.6 Household Maintenance 243.2.7 Opportunities for Sharing and Support 243.2.8 Privacy 253.3 Canadian Housing Policy Alternatives 263.4 Some Housing Options Available to Single Parent Families 313.4.1 Conventional Market Housing 313.4.1.1 Home-ownership 313.4.1.2 Homesharing 333.4.1.3 Rental Accommodation 343.4.2 Alternative Housing Options Built and Developed by and for Womenand Their Children 363.4.2.1 Co-housing 373.4.2.2 Co-operatives 383.4.2.3 Non-profit Housing Societies 413.5 Indirect Benefits of Women as Housing Developers in AlternativeHousing Environments 433.6 Summary 454.0 ENTRE NOUS FEMMES HOUSING SOCIETY CASE STUDY 474.1 Research Methodology 474.2 Historical Background 504.2.1 Early beginnings: 1980-1985 514.2.2 Entre Nous Femmes Philosophy and Incorporation:February 1985 534.2.3 Development Begins: 1985 544.3 Organization of Entre Nous Femmes 554.4 Research Findings 564.4.1 Housing Histories 574.4.2 Housing in Entre Nous Femmes 634.4.3 Evaluation of Housing Environments by Residents 644.4.3.1 Availability 654.4.3.2 Accessibility 654.4.3.3 Security of Tenure 674.4.3.4 Appropriateness of Facilities for Children 694.4.3.5 Safety 754.4.3.6 Privacy 76V4.4.3.7 Opportunities for Sharing and Support .804.4.3.8 Design Features 834.4.3.9 Overall Satisfaction with Housing 854.4.4 Indirect Benefits for Single Mothers 895.0 CONCLUSION 965.1 Summary of Research Findings 965.2 Implications for Policy 1005.3 Implications for Planners 1045.4 Limitations of Thesis and Suggestions for Further Research 107BIBLIOGRAPHY 110APPENDICESAppendix A: Letter of Request to Entre Nous Femmes to ConductResearch 115Appendix B: Follow-up Letter to Board Members and Tenants of Entre NousFemmes 117Appendix C: Letter to Tenants of ENF Requesting Research Participation ...119AppendixD: Survey 121Appendix E: Interview Schedule 125viLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1: Play Area for Children 70Figure 2: Housing Units Overlook Play Area 72Figure 3: Outdoor Private Space 78Figure 4: Architecture of Housing 80Figure 5: Common Room 83Figure 6: Effective Fenestration 86vuACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank many people who helped in completing this thesis: PennyGurstein and Tom Hutton for their advice, guidance and support; my friends Phil,Lindsay, Shannon, and Barry who tirelessly listened and encouraged; my parentsVictor and Mary, and my sister Donna, for their love and understanding; all thewomen in the communities of Entres Nous Femmes who contributed insight andinspiration through their stories; Entres Nous Femmes for allowing me theopportunity to explore this case study; and a special thanks to my loving partnerRandall whose never ending belief in me helped me see the light at the end of thetunnel.vu’11.0 INTRODUCTIONThe definition of the Canadian family is widening beyond that of a nuclearunit with a man, woman and 2.2 children to include the growing numbers of nontraditional families, particularly single parent families, which are predominatelyheaded by women. This growth has many serious social and economic implications.One of the major implications is that there is both a lack of adequate, as well asaffordable housing. Much of conventional market housing is built with the notion ofthe nuclear family, thus failing to address the many unique needs of the singleparent family. Affordability, in particular, is a major concern because:Although 95% of our housing system relies on the market, the marketcannot deliver housing to people unable to generate demand... Peopleliving in poverty simply cannot generate market demand or paymarket rents or prices (Hulchanski, 1988:12-13).Some women have organized and responded to this housing crisis bydeveloping their own housing projects, thereby becoming not only the consumers ofthis housing, but also the developers. Although the housing projects are few innumbers, they represent growing activism by women who are taking charge of theirown environments. By creating their own housing, single parent families arerewarded with housing that is more responsive of their needs.1.1 PurposeThe purpose of this thesis is two-fold. The first purpose is to document thedifficulties single mothers experience in the housing market. While acknowledgingthese struggles, the second purpose is to go beyond the depiction of women ashousing victims to shed a more positive light on women and housing. This will bringto focus the victories of women in grass-roots organizations which have respondedto the unmet housing needs of these families. The case study serves to illustratethese victories including the potential of this type of housing to go beyond theprovision of shelter to empower women, help them develop new skills, improve theirhealth, and consequently improve the overall health of the whole community. As2such, it presents a viable option to population groups like single parent families, whobecause of their unique family type and low income, are not able to find adequateand affordable housing in the market place.While other research has studied various aspects of non-profit housing forsingle mothers, there is a paucity of empirical research on housing for single parentfamilies which provide detailed evaluations concerning the suitability of non-profithousing from the perspective of the single mothers who are residents. It is this lackof research that this thesis attempts to address.1.2 Research PhilosophyThe view of housing as a basic human right, which as a society we areresponsible for providing to every citizen, is a premise from which this thesis begins;it is also one recognized internationally and has been documented as such. TheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in December 1948, declaredhousing to be a human right recognized throughout the world, as did the U.N.General Assembly when they adopted the International Covenant on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights in 1966; both were ratified by Canada (Hulchanski,1988). While this right has been formally acknowledged, it has not been given thesame attention by policy-makers and the majority of citizens as the right toeducation and health care.Though Canada has a relatively high standard of housing for mostCanadians, housing experts like Hulchanski (1988:14) report that: “It is, however,an exclusive system that permits access to housing according to economic status.”This exclusive system is the result of a nation focused on market welfare whereby:Human relations and human beings are being redefined in terms of themarket place. Certain values and principles-profitability, productivity,efficiency, and competitiveness- are laws by which social relations aregoverned... (Carr, 1987:52).This translates to an economic environment where:3New construction is limited to commercial buildings and to the high endof the residential market. This housing is out of the reach of ordinaryCanadians and inconceivable for the poor (Young, 1987:35).As a result many Canadians are shut out of the market, unable to secure adequatehousing.In order for an inclusive system to occur, which acknowledges the inability ofthe market to provide for all citizens, given the inherent inequities in our system, agreater focus on social welfare initiatives is required. These initiatives arepredicated on government support for those who have difficulties competing in themarket economy.While the safety net of social services in general has eroded in Canada in thepast decade, it is essential for housing to be maintained as a national priority. Theimportance of good housing can not be understated as Young (1987:35) explains:Many studies have shown the importance of adequate housing. Inaddition to physical protection from the elements, a comfortable,secure, and safe home is necessary for the emotional health anddevelopment of families and individuals.Thus, the root of a healthy community begins with healthy families, andwithout adequate, affordable housing this cannot be achieved. Housing must remainon the political agenda to ensure it is not treated as a commodity, but as a basichuman right. This is supported by others, including psychologist Abraham Maslowin his hierarchical model of human motivation, which argues that healthy humandevelopment is dependent upon achieving a hierarchy of needs. This developmentbegins with the satisfaction of the lower order needs of safe and adequate shelter, arequisite to moving up the hierarchy to achieve the higher order needs ofbelongingness and love, self-esteem, and self-actualization. According to Maslow:• .a good society is one that fosters the satisfaction of the fundamentalhuman needs, while an undesirable culture thwarts these needs andthereby promotes individual psychopathology (Ewen,1980:361).4Furthermore, the unsupportive society creates dysfunction that: “...can all tooreadily inhibit our positive potentials and evoke hatred, destructiveness and self-defeating behavior” (Ibid. :344).1.3 ScopeThe issue of social housing is a complex one, requiring a myriad of economic,political and social considerations. However, the scope of this paper is limited to thelatter, involving a case study of single parent families in the non-profit housingsociety of Entres Nous Femmes (ENF). This case is further limited as it focuses onthe experiences of the “experts” who live in this housing to determine first, howeffective it is in meeting the needs of single parents, and second whether there areconcomitant benefits with this type of housing delivery.Additionally, although 17% of single parents are male (5% in the housingcommunities of ENF), the majority are female; thus, they will be the focus group.Finally, the limited nature of the thesis, the constraints of time, and the demands onthe lives of the single mothers, limit the extensiveness of this study.1.4 DefinitionsThere are a couple of important terms that will reoccur throughout thispaper; therefore, clarification is warranted. The first is “housing”, which in thisthesis is defined beyond the dictionary definition of shelter to include a home whichserves as a foundation from which experiences are created, either positively ornegatively, affecting self-esteem, confidence and a sense of personal power. Thecreation of positive experiences is aided by the provision of a secure base where asense of refuge can be found, and where single mothers and their children can movebeyond the often experienced cycle of poverty.The second term requiring explanation is “single parent family” or “loneparent family”, which will be used interchangeably in this thesis. These terms aredefined by the 1986 Census definition of “lone parent family” as: “...a mother [or a5father] of any marital status, with no spouse present, living in a dwelling with one ormore never married children” (Statistics Canada, 1986:8).1.5 Research ApproachThe research approach for this thesis was motivated by a desire to studywomen and housing from a feminist perspective. While there are a myriad ofdefinitions of feminism, and thus many different perspectives, central to this thesisis one in which women’s experiences and ideas are fundamental to theunderstanding of housing for single parent families. The aim is to conduct theresearch “with” women, rather than “on” women in the hope that it has some role toplay in improving their lives in one way or another.The methodologies chosen to carry forth this research are both quantitativeand qualitative. Quantitative research methods have been criticized, particularly byfeminists, as these methods are used in traditional research which has in the pastignored issues of concern to women and feminists. Furthermore, the employment ofquantitative methods where data gathering is based on predetermined questions isnot always seen as an effective technique as it often overlooks importantinformation in the struggle to maintain objectivity. According to Jayaratne andStewart (1991:85):.quantitative research techniques involving the translation ofindividual’s experience into categories predefined by researchers distortwomen’s experience and result in a silencing of women’s own voices.Tomm (1989:3-4) concurs:There is little space for new information categories to arise fromquestionnaire or statistical responses... very often quantitative-typequestions do not tap important information.Qualitative methodologies usually do not have this constraint, as the focus ofthe data collection is on the experiences of the respondents who are able to expressthemselves in their own terms. This in turn is viewed by the defenders of6quantitative methodologies as problematic as it may lead to researcher bias andloss of objectivity. However, no data is truly objective as it is always subject to thevalue judgements of the researcher.Personal biases impinge on the research process in many ways,particularly in theory formulation and interpretation, but also indevelopment of design, data collection, and analysis (Jayaratne,1983:154).The advantage of quantitative methodologies is that researchers are able tostudy larger groups than is possible with qualitative methodologies, therebyresulting in better representation of the population group. Although many arguethat these findings often lack necessary insight into the complexity of an issue(s):No matter how thorough the questions in quantitative research,quantitative data will yield findings which are superficial in nature,compared to most qualitative data. Even the most complex andsophisticated quantitative research report cannot impart the same ‘in-depth’ understanding of respondents as, for example a thorough casehistory. This is most likely due to detailed description which is lackingin quantitative research (Ibid.: 153-154).Since there are many ways to describe the world and to determine “reality”,and no methodology is free from problems, no one methodology should have amonopoly on doing so. Consequently, to conduct this research both methods wereused in order to achieve a more accurate assessment of the housing reality faced bysingle parent families. The use of multiple methods or triangulation is supported bymany researchers, including feminists, because: “...multiple methods work toenhance understanding both by adding layers of information and by using one typeof data to validate or refine another” (Reinharz, 1992:201). Thus, the weaknesses inone method will be offset by the strengths of the other.1.6 Organization of ThesisThe balance of this thesis is organized into four chapters. Chapter two andthree serve to provide contextual background to the case study by illustrating howthe socio-economic profile of the single parent family and Canadian housing policy7have affected their housing options. Specifically, chapter two provides a profile ofthe single parent family in terms of the increasing growth of this family type; theirgender composition; as well as their social, economic, and housing characteristics. Aliterature review on housing and single parent families in chapter threeencompasses brief discussions on: the changing structure of the Canadian family;the unique housing needs of the single parent family; housing delivery in Canadianhousing policy; the housing options available to single parent families; and theindirect benefits of women as housing developers in alternative housingenvironments. These two chapters segue into chapter four by providing anunderstanding of why a non-profit housing society like Entres Nous Femmes wasfounded and became such a needed vehicle for providing adequate and affordablehousing for single parents. This chapter examines the research methodology used inthis case study, the historical background and organization of ENF, and theresearch findings. Finally, chapter five concludes with a summary of the research,the implications for policy and planners, limitations of the thesis and suggestions forfurther research.82.0 A PROFILE OF TUE SINGLE PARENT FAMILYSingle parent families are becoming a major family type in Canada, differingsubstantially from husband-wife families in many ways. While they are not ahomogeneous group, there are some similarities that can aid in establishing ageneral characterization. The objective of this chapter is to establish this uniqueprofile of the lone parent family in Canada, in order to understand their distincthousing situation. Through this profile a greater understanding is gained of whythese families are unable to effectively meet their needs through the market.This chapter begins with an investigation of the unprecedented growth of thesingle parent family. This will be followed by an examination of the gendercomposition of the head of these families. Then, social characteristics includingeducation, marital status, and age, as well as economic characteristics such asoccupation and income will be explored. This chapter will conclude with how thissocio-economic profile affects the housing characteristics of single parent familiessuch as tenure distribution, and quality of housing facilities.2.1 GrowthOne of the most significant changes to the North American family in the pastfew decades has been the extraordinary growth in the numbers of lone parentfamilies. However, this is a fairly recent phenomenon that has only begun to bestatistically significant. Prior to the late 1960s the rate of growth of husband-wifefamilies was much higher than that of the lone parent family. After 1966 thegrowth rate of the single parent family surpassed that of the husband-wife family,becoming one of the fastest growing of all family types. This increase in lone parentfamilies was particularly pronounced in the period of 1971-1981 where thesefamilies increased by 49%, which was more than twice the 22% increase inhusband-wife families (Statistics Canada, 1984).9Statistics reveal the increase in single-parenthood, but often leave out thenumber of children that are affected by these family break-downs. As the numbersof lone parents have increased so have the numbers of children involved. While thedecade of 197 1-1981 revealed a declining number of dependent children under 18years of age in husband-wife families, there was an increase of children in loneparent families in all the Canadian provinces and territories. For example, in BritishColumbia the growth of dependent children 0-17 years in husband-wife familiesbetween the years of 1976-1981 was -4%; whereas for lone parent families thegrowth for the same period was +16% (Statistics Canada, 1984).The implications of the growth in numbers of children in lone parent familiesare great. It indicates that more Canadian children are living in households whichare socially and economically deficient. In fact, during the 1980s children replacedthe elderly as the largest segment of Canada’s poor population. Canada is onlysecond to the U.S.A. in the depth of poverty experienced by children in industrializedcountries (Freiler and Kitchen, 1990). Consequently, these children must enduremany hardships and stresses with negative effects including a greater risk ofchronic mental and physical problems, poor school performance, and higher schooldrop-out rates (Freiler and Kitchen, 1990).The growth of single-parenthood is due to a number of circumstancesincluding- those who have divorced or separated; women who are single, and havenever been married; and those who are widowed. Widowhood used to be a majorcause of single-parenthood, constituting approximately two-thirds of female loneparents in 1951, whereas in 1986 this has fallen to 28% (Moore, 1987). Parents whoare divorced or separated have now surpassed these numbers, comprising 57% oflone parents in 1986 (Moore, 1987). Changes in the divorce laws in the late 1960s,making it easier to obtain a divorce, contributed to a number of divorce cases. Theseincreases in the rate of divorce can also be explained by a change in the values heldby women and the mass movement of women into the labor force. As women gain10some financial freedom from participating in the labor force they no longer areforced to remain in destructive relationships.Single never-married women are also contributing to the growth of single-parenthood, comprising 15% of these parents in 1986, up from just 1% in 1951(Moore, 1987). Again, changing values can perhaps explain the increase in thenumbers of single never-married women. At one time the social mores of our societyshunned and would not accept a single woman raising a child(ren) on her own. Asthese customs have become less restrictive more women are either accepting orchoosing to raise their child(ren) by themselves.2.2 Gender CompositionSingle parent families are predominantly headed by women. This continues tobe a dominant feature of single-parenthood that remains constant throughout time.The numbers of female-led lone parent families have increased slightly from 83.6%in 1976 to 84.2% in 1982. The implications of this gender composition aresignificant; since women earn substantially less than men, they are financially indifficult positions (44% of all female-headed lone-parent households in 1986 hadincomes that fell below the low-income cut-off point set by Statistics Canada(Statistics Canada, 1989)).2.3 Social CharacteristicsThis section will discuss the social characteristics of single parents; namely,education, marital status, and age. These are discussed in the literature as threevariables that play important roles in the lives of lone parents, and to a large degreedetermine their housing circumstance.2.3.1 EducationEducation in our society is a determinant of job possibilities. Generally, thehigher the education the greater the income and opportunities for advancement11that an individual will have. Childbearing tends to thwart the chances women havefor educational achievement. The kurden particularly of early parenthood for manylone parents delays or eliminates the possibility for post-secondary education,putting these women at a greater economic disadvantage.Female lone parents generally have less formal education than marriedwomen in all age categories. For example, just 24% of female lone parents in relationto 31% of married women had some post-secondary training (Moore, 1987).Moreover, studies have shown that women overall have less post-secondaryeducation than men, which puts them at a great disadvantage following maritaldissolution.2.3.2 Marital StatusAs it has been demonstrated, lone parent families are not a homogeneousgroup. The marital status of these parents varies and is strongly correlated withage. Mothers who have never been married tend to be highest amongst youngwomen; those separated and divorced are generally younger to middle aged women;and the incidence of widowhood are highest with elderly women (Pool and Moore,1986).An important policy consideration, which is implicit in the research is thatsingle-motherhood is a transitory stage and it is expected that women will remarry.This influences the way that decisions are made and policy on housing is formulatedfor these families. However, the rate of remarriage for a woman is largelydetermined by age. The older a woman is the more unlikely she will remarry. Awoman that who is divorced in her twenties has a 76 per cent chance of remarriage.This declines in her thirties where her chances are only 56 percent, but plunge evenmore dramatically in her forties to 32 per cent chance of remarriage. When shereaches her fifties or older her chances are even slimmer at only 12 per cent(Blumstein and Schwartz, 1983).122.3.3 AgeResearch indicates that lone-parenthood may be associated with age as morelone parents than married women were in a union, either common-law or marital ata younger age. Of the lone parents from age 20-24, 80% were in a union before age19, compared to 53% of married women (Moore, 1987). Evidence suggests that thenumbers of women becoming parents at an early age is continuing to increase.Statistics Canada (1984) suggest several factors that may be contributing to thenumbers of young women who are single parents: (1) the decline of elderly loneparents, particularly of widows; (2) the greater incidence of divorce and separationamong young people; (3) the greater percentage of mothers who are awardedcustody after divorce or separation; (4) the increasing rise of the never married loneparent since the 1960s.2.4 Economic CharacteristicsThe variable that most affects single parent families and their housingcircumstance is their economic situation. Two of these variables that this sectionwill discuss are occupation and income.2.4.1 OccupationWhile economic variables are critical in determining the housing situation ofsingle parent families, they are intricately intertwined with other aforementionedvariables such as education. Because many single mothers have limited education,they are limited in choices of occupations. These choices are also restricted as theirchildren’s needs must be taken into consideration.There are some differences in the participation of married women and loneparents in the labor force, although both of these groups increase their participationgradually as they age and then begin to decline once they reach 45 years old. The1986 Census reports a higher percentage of labor participation among marriedwomen at 61.2% than female lone-parents at 57.7%. However, women with13husbands were more likely to work part-time (34.2%) than women who were loneparents (25.5%) (Connelly and MacDonald, 1990). Lone parents are also more likelythan married women to work continuously (Moore,1987).Although the rate of labour force participation of all women outside the homecontinues to increase, the majority of employment positions are concentrated inthose classified as traditionally female. Women continue to be over-represented in afew traditional positions and under-represented in most other occupations, giventheir overall share of employment. These traditional positions include clerical jobs,nursing and related health occupations, teaching, service, and sales. Womenaccount for 80% of the clerical positions, 85% of the nursing and health relatedpositions, 66% of teachers, 57% of service personnel, and 46% of salespersons in1989 (Shea, 1990). In many of these occupations the pay is low, there is little jobsecurity, benefits are minimal and opportunities are few.The concentration of women in these traditionally female or “pink collar”occupations has increased during the years 1971-1986 as more women enter thelabor force. Occupations with the largest increases in employment during this 15year period for women included such positions as bookkeepers, secretaries, cashiersand tellers, salespersons, nurses, waiters, and receptionists (Connelly andMacDonald, 1990). While there are gains for women in some professions, smallbusiness and the public sector, women continue to be significantly under-represented in male-dominated positions such as trade, management and finance.Additionally, while there have been substantial increases in women’sparticipation in the work force, much of this work is part-time. In fact, during theperiod of 1975-1988 the number of women working part-time accounted for aboutone third of the growth in the employment of women (Parliament, 1989). Womenaccount for 66.1% of all part-time workers in 1985. These part time positions arealso in predominately traditional female occupations (Connelly and MacDonald,1990). The reasons for women working part-time is varied- for example: 39% do so14because they did not want full time work; 39% were going to school; 20% had familyand personal responsibilities; and for many of these women (27%), there was nooption as they could not find full time work in 1986 (Duchesne, 1987).There is a concern over the conditions of part-time work in relation to fulltime employment, especially since most of the part time work is carried out bywomen, many of them heads of households. Generally, part-time work constitutes alower wage, fewer benefits, and less protection than full time.2.4.2 IncomeIncome determines the resources such as housing, daycare and educationthat a family has at its disposal. Families that are headed by women are the leastable to provide adequate resources for their families, particularly families that areheaded by women under 65, who have the lowest income in Canada (StatisticsCanada, 1984). While the income of other families have increased markedly overthe period of 1970-1980, with the average income of husband and wife familiesincreasing by 30%, and lone male parents by 35%, lone female parents income haveincreased by only 18% (Statistics Canada, 1984). Single parents who face thegreatest difficulties because of low income are women who have children under theage of 16 years of age at home, those who live in the Atlantic region and Quebec andmothers who are in the 15-24 and 25-34 year age groups (Statistics Canada, 1984).Furthermore, the disparity between the income earned by women and men ingeneral, remains great. In every age category men earn significantly more thanwomen, with the differences diminishing after the age of 65. The average earnings inCanada for women who worked full time for a full year in 1985 were just 66% of theincome earned by men (Connelly and MacDonald, 1990). Additionally, it is oftenerroneously assumed that the earning ratio of men and women would not be thatdifferent at higher educational levels. However, females with university degrees15between the ages of 25-44 still only earn 70% and 80% of what their malecounterpart earns (Connelly and MacDonald, 1990).As it has been indicated women in general have a much more difficult timethan men earning a decent living. Single mothers have a particularly difficult timeearning money due to their low education and their sole responsibilities for theirchildren. Consequently, employment income is not their only income; governmentassistance in the form of unemployment insurance, family and youth allowances,social assistance and pension benefits, etc. are relied on to make ends meet. Femalelone parent families derive only 64% of their total income from employmentearnings, compared with 87% for husband-wife families (Moore, 1987).The contributions of child support and/or alimony payments are often viewedas a form of compensation for the single mother’s inequitable employment incomeand parenting costs. However, there are many problems associated with thesepayments for single, divorced mothers. The actual amount that divorced singlemothers receive, when they receive any payments at all, is often inadequate for thereal costs of child rearing and maintenance. Canadian research indicates that twothirds of divorced and separated women do not receive full child support payments.Evidence for this is seen in a major Alberta study on divorce: “... 65% of women withdependent children were awarded child support. Nearly half of these awards werebetween $101 and $200 a month. A further 38% were between $51 and $100 amonth” (Kiodwasky, et al., 1985:2-7). There are also difficulties with paymentsarriving on schedule, which may leave the family financially vulnerable, oftenforcing the situation to the legal arena for enforcement.2.5 Housing CharacteristicsBecause of their low socio-economic position single mothers have manydifficulties with their housing. The competitive nature of the private sectorsystematically works against these families, restricting their choices in housing.16The purpose of this section is to discuss these difficulties in terms of tenure andquality of housing.2.5.1 Tenure DistributionSingle mothers often face discrimination because of their marital status andtheir low income, which makes it difficult to find housing that adequately meetstheir needs. Thus, often they are relegated to sub-standard housing in the rentalmarket. Rental housing can be very expensive, especially in the larger city centers.The alternative is moving to the suburbs where the housing is cheaper, but thetrade-off is isolation and a lack of services, employment and amenities.Whether in the suburbs or the city, more single parent families live in rentalaccommodations than in owner-occupied homes. Over 70% of single parent familiesrent their housing. Age plays an important role in determining who will rent, withrenting particularly marked among younger lone parents. Rental accommodationsaccount for 95% of the housing of lone parents under the age of 25, and 73.8% ofthose 25-34. This figure drops to 51% for those in the 35-44 age group, whichcompares with only 19% of two person households in this age category (Klodawsky,et al., 1985).This rental housing often demands a disproportionate amount of the loneparent’s wage in the form of rent. While it is disturbing to find 26% of female loneparents, renters andlor owners in 1981 paying more than 35% of their income onshelter, and 16.5% spending over 50% of their total income on shelter (StatisticsCanada, 1984) the statistics for renters only is even more troublesome. Loneparents who are renters earn just slightly more than half of that of female homeowners, and just under one half of these women in 1981 spent 35% or more of theirincome on shelter and one-third of these women spent 50% or more on housing costs(Statistics Canada, 1984).17There are many repercussions of single mothers renting and not being able tobuy a home. Many rental situations are not favorable for raising children.Additionally, since housing is a principal form of asset accumulation to be relied onwhen the parent is no longer able to work in the labor force, the inability to invest ina home systematically continues to place these families at an economicdisadvantage.2.5.2 Quality of Housing FacifitiesAlthough it is difficult to assess, research has indicated that lone parentfamilies suffer the poorest housing conditions of all families in Canada. While thesefamilies generally have all of the basic amenities such as water, bathroom facilities,water heaters and so on (Kiodwasky, et at., 1985) low income and time constraintsresults in housing that is often in disrepair (Statistics Canada, 1984). Studiesindicate that at least 30% of these families live in housing that is in need of repair(Statistics Canada, 1984).The age of the lone parent is a major factor in determining whether housing isin need of repair, with the need for repairs decreasing through to age 45 and thenincreasing as the woman ages (Kiodwasky, et. al., 1985). The lack of resources, thelabor potential of a second head, and time, are all factors that contribute to afamily’s housing falling into disrepair (Kiodwasky, et at., 1985).2.6 SummaryThe growing number of female led families is a grave concern for Canadiancommunities. The majority of these families are headed by women, at increasinglyyounger ages, who have a lower education than their male counterpart and marriedwomen. This places them at a disadvantage in the labor force, relegated to lowpaying, insecure jobs in the “pink collar” labor force. The hardships that thesemothers and their children endure because of their socio-economic profile createsdifficulties with their housing, forcing the majority to rent sub-standard housing thatis inadequate for child rearing. Given this situation, the following chapter will furtherexplore the housing circumstance of.single mothers, including identifring the housingneeds of these families; how these needs have been responded to by housing policy;and the subsequent housing options available to them.18193.0 HOUSING AND SINGLE PARENT FAMILIESThis chapter reviews the literature relevant to the housing needs and optionsof single parent families. First, the changing structure of the Canadian family isexamined. Then, the unique housing needs of this population group are assessed.This is followed by a brief discussion on housing policy alternatives in Canada todetermine effectiveness, particularly in regard to housing for disadvantaged groupssuch as single parents. Next, the “conventional” and the “alternative” options thatare available to these families are detailed and evaluated in terms of the housingneeds discussed in a previous section. Finally, the last section concludes with apresentation of alternative housing forms as a viable option to conventional housingwith concomitant benefits to those who live there.3.1 Changing Structure of the Canadian FamilyThis section overviews the changes that have been occurring to the structureof the Canadian family in recent years. This background provides a foundation fromwhich to view the ever-increasing phenomenon of the single parent family. Thisfamily type has a different set of norms and lifestyles, which indicate there is a needfor a change in how housing policy is viewed and formulated.In the past few decades the “traditional” concept of the nuclear family hasbecome less evident. There has been a decrease in family size as well as an increasein many different family types including those living alone, reconstituted families,multiple-earner families, and one of the fastest growing, lone parent families. Whileit appears that the “traditional” family has always existed, this is in fact arelatively recent and short-lived historical development. In the pre-industrial andindustrial era the formation of the family household was extended with all memberscontributing to the household economy. During the industrial revolution children andwomen worked in factories alongside men. It was not until the mid to late nineteenthcentury that the traditional family form, as we view it, emerged (Gerson, 1983).20The economic prosperity of post World War II brought with it the opportunityfor lower and middle class families to fulfil the nineteenth century ideal of thenurturing full time mother and housewife. The numbers of women participating inthe work force declined as veterans sought employment. Subsequently,stereotypical gender roles became established as women were relegated to theprivate realm and men to the public.This ideal of the family has changed considerably since the 1950s. Societyhas became cognizant of the crippling effects of gender stereotyped roles and it hasbecome financially untenable for many families to continue to have only one familymember as the provider. Thus, after a brief hiatus, women again entered into thework force in increasing numbers in the 1960s and 1970s. This has changed thestructure of the 1950s notion of the “traditional” family to such a degree, that todayonly 3% of these families with the father as the breadwinner, and mother as full-time homemaker exist (Home and Baldwin, 1988).In summary, many variables, such as female participation in the labor force,and changing social values, have emerged to change the composition of families inthe 1990s. The result is a diversity of family types with the fastest growing beingthe single parent family. This growing diversity of families requires further study ofthe housing needs of these families, as well as how these housing requirements areaccommodated, or not, by current housing delivery in Canada.3.2 Housing NeedsThe focus of this section is on the identification of the unique housing needs ofsingle parent families and their difficulties meeting these needs in the privatemarket. The housing requisites of families led by single mothers, although notalways recognized, differs significantly from those of joint parent families.Additionally, the number of single parent families and the ensuing lack of affordableand adequate shelter is growing and is becoming a serious concern in many21Canadian communities. This hardship permeates all aspects of life, creatinginstability and dysfunction not just for the individual family but for society as awhole. Thus, the identification of these special needs is a critical first step informulating policy and building more appropriate housing for these families.Many of the housing needs of single parent families have been identified byresearchers such as Klodawsky, et al. (1985) including: affordability, accessibility,availability, security of tenure, appropriateness of facilities for children, householdmaintenance, opportunities for sharing and support, and privacy. These needs willserve as a criteria in this thesis for evaluating the housing of single parent families.3.2.1 AffordabilityA review of the literature on single parent families identifies this family typeas the poorest and most disadvantaged. As a result, among Canadian renters, loneparent families are found to be among the most likely to be in Core Housing Need.They are six times more likely to be in core housing need than two-parent families(Burgess et al., 1992). Core Housing Need is defined by BCMHC as: “Householdswho are now paying, or would be required to pay, thirty percent or more of theirhousehold income for adequate and suitable accommodation in their community...”(BCMHC, 1993:8). In the major cities of Canada, 56% of female-led families paid30% or more of their income on shelter in 1986 (Bird, 1990). Because of this manyof these female led families are forced to live in cramped, dark basement suiteswhich are barely affordable, and in most cases completely inadequate for family life.3.2.2 AccessibilityThe demanding multitude of roles often assumed by the single parent ascaretaker, employee, student, and so on, makes it critical for them to live in housingthat has easy access to daycare, schools, and the workplace. Women are placed in adifficult situation in Canadian cities as often the neighborhoods that are moreaffordable, such as the outlying suburbs, are not accessible to these services. This22accessibility is further compounded through the absence of an automobile, whichaccording to 1982 statistics is the case with approximately 43% of these female-headed families with a child under 18, compared to only 11% of husband-wifefamilies (Klodawsky, et al., 1985). This leaves women with the option of living in therelatively expensive but service rich downtown areas. “In 1982, an estimated 96 percent of female single-parent families lived in cities with a population of over 25,000”(Klodawsky and Spector, 1988:150).For those women forced to live in the suburbs because of the low cost ofhousing, this lack of accessibility to place of employment and services that theurban core offers limits potential income and job choice. Public transportation isoften not considered a viable option due to its time consumptive nature.3.2.3 AvailabifitySingle parent families face a double-edged sword in today’s housing market.First, since the numbers of these families is increasing, and the supply of low tomoderate housing is decreasing due to such things as condominium conversion anddemolition, the availability of adequate and affordable housing is diminishing.Second, the problem of low vacancy rates is further compounded by discriminationthat these families face, as Gurstein and Hood (1975:9) discovered in their research:Housing is difficult for many people to find but seemingly singleparents are near the bottom of the landlord’s lists of acceptabletenants. Often the only reason for the landlord’s refusal to rent is thefact that the prospective tenant is a single parent.From the results of the study by Gurstein and Hood (1975), discriminationwas found to be rooted in landlord’s notions of children as noisy and destructive, andthe stereotype of single mothers as ‘loose’ and irresponsible. While these attitudesmake it difficult for all single mothers seeking rental accommodation, the greatestdiscrimination is faced by the working class (Anderson-Khleif, 1981). Gerda Wekerle(1988) concurs with her study of women living in cooperatives, over 80% of womenwith children reported discrimination by landlords when living in rental23accommodations, especially if they were on social assistance. However, researchdone by Anderson-Khleif (1981) discovered that, despite the financial difficultiesfaced by low-income single parents, these women are reliable renters, who workhard to make ends meet. Their determination to support their families was foundoften to be strong enough to overcome their limited incomes.3.2.4 Security of TenureSingle parent families are fraught with feelings of instability due to manythings such as sudden marriage dissolution, death of a spouse, and so on. While lowincome renters such as single parent families previously found some comfort in theduration of their tenure once they had found appropriate accommodations, this is nolonger the case due to the inability of the market to provide low-income housing andthe increasing loss of this housing stock through gentrification and demolition.Consequently, these families are forced to move frequently to maintain low pricedhousing.There is an additional problem with security of tenure that Klodawsky andSpector (1988) have ascertained which involves the complications of publiclyfinanced housing for single parents. The security of tenure can be jeopardized insocial housing, which is subsidized to provide relief for the poorest of families, if theparent begins to make additional income. This results often in an increase in rent ora request to vacate the housing unit to make way for those families which are thepoorest of the poor.3.2.5 Appropriateness of Facifities for ChildrenOne of the considerations that single mothers have when searching forhousing for their families is whether the housing units have facilities appropriate fortheir children. This includes child oriented areas that are safe, away from the streetand traffic. It is important that these play areas are designed in such a way thatchildren can be easily supervised by their mothers. This may include benches from24which mothers can watch their children, as well as design features that allowsurveillance from their homes. However, the need for appropriate facilities forchildren are not often considered in the design of many of the multiple unitapartment complexes in large cities in Canada, wherein approximately 46 per centof young single parents live (Klodawsky and Spector, 1988).3.2.6 Household MaintenanceThe design of most housing today is based on conventional notions of the“traditional” family, with a male worker and an unpaid homemaker. As such,considerations such as low maintenance are not design issues. However, this is animportant consideration in the design of housing today as the predominate familytype is the two earner family and the fastest growing family type is the singleparent family (Hayden, 1984).For the single parent family maintaining their housing is particularlyproblematic, given their shortage of time and money. Consequently, many of thehomes occupied by single parent families suffer from inadequate or irregularmaintenance (Klodawsky and Spector 1988). They are often caught in a catch 22situation: if they complain to the landlord about the needed repairs they may bethreatened with eviction; if they don’t complain the landlord assumes that they cancontinue to live in sub-human conditions, again, perpetrating the stereotype ofsingle mothers as irresponsible (Gurstein and Hood, 1975).3.2.7 Opportunities for Sharing and SupportA change in family structure and subsequent change in living arrangementscan prove to be a very stressful situation for most families. For the newly-foundsingle parent this change signifies greater financial and domestic responsibilities, asthe burden that was previously shared by two is transferred to one of the parents.However, this stress is somewhat alleviated if the new housing environment is onewhich provides both a supportive atmosphere to comfort the family through the25difficult times, and opportunities for sharing such things as child care andtransportation. This becomes an important consideration which influences thesingle parent’s decision on where to live (Anderson-Kleif, 1981).Gerda Wekerle’s (1985) review of the literature on the neighborhood needs ofsingle parent families revealed that this family type is increasingly dependent ontheir local neighborhood as many have low mobility and heavy time pressures.These support systems and shared services are important in the lives of thesefamilies as they are replacing functions that were traditionally met by the extendedfamily. Some of these collective facilities and services include community rooms,public courtyards, laundry rooms, household maintenance and child care. Thissystem of support is particularly lacking in the suburban low-density, single-familyneighborhood, which ironically is often chosen because of its reputation as a goodenvironment for family life, as households are often isolated from one another andare less supportive of the needs of the single-parent (Werkerle, 1985). Alternativesto this would be a more sensitive housing design that would allow for homemakingand domestic responsibilities to be performed collectively rather than in isolation.Such housing arrangements are possible through the clustering of single parenthousing and through shared housing (Klodawsky and Spector, 1988).3.2.8 PrivacyAlthough it is helpful for single parent families to live in housingarrangements that foster caring and sharing, it is also important for these familiesto sustain a certain level of family privacy. Each parent has a particular set ofnorms and values that they consider important to foster in their children and whichinfluences their parenting methods. Parenting is often easier to carry out in theprivacy of the individual home rather than in the company of others as parents areoften intolerant of the input of others and interference in the raising of their children.26This can create an uncomfortable atmosphere where the single-parents becomeresentful of their lack of privacy.The need for privacy also involves the need for the surrounding community toview the housing of the single-parent families as normal, not an anomaly in a worldof two parent families. This “normalization approach” as Anderson-Khleif (1981)terms it, is important to these families. In order to be accepted by the neighborhood,single-parent families feel it critical to live in communities that are in similar agegroups and life cycle stages.As the numbers of single parent families increases so does the demand forhousing that meets their unique needs, which presents a challenge to Canadianhousing policy. The response of housing policy to these needs is the focus of thefollowing section.3.3 Canadian Housing Policy AlternativesAlthough the limitations of this thesis do not permit a full exploration ofhousing policy, this section will attempt to briefly explore the policy approacheswhich are employed to address housing problems in Canada. For a more detailedanalysis of housing policy in Canada see: Bacher, 1986; Hulchanski, 1988a; andCauduro, 1992. All three levels of government play a role in housing policy;however, the resources and constitutional mandate of the federal government havedictated that the most significant role is played at the national level. This role iscarried through by the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) underthe National Housing Act. (However, these roles are changing as the federalgovernment has slowly begun to withdraw their traditional responsibilities asprovincial and municipal governments begin to take more active roles.)Consequently, much of the debate surrounding various government policies havebeen focused at the federal level. Central to the discussion is the ineffectiveness ofCanadian housing policies to provide for low income households who are most in27need of shelter. While it is undeniable that these policies have created opportunitiesfor a large part of the population to secure good housing, the focus haspredominately been on homeownership for the middle-class, ignoring the needs ofrenters such as single parent families. The effects of this are:socially regressive: owners are generally more affluent than tenants,while the most affluent, living in the largest homes, have received thegreatest subsidies of all. For both reasons, the poor are, in effect,subsidizing the rich (Harris, 1991:372).The precedent for these policies was set, according to Hulchanski (1986), in1935 with the Dominion Housing Act. The general nature and approach to housingproblems has not changed much, resulting in a history that has centered more on“market welfare” than on “social welfare” (Hulchanski, 1986)1. The attention of thefederal government has been on the inadequate performance of the private sector tosupply rental and homeownership units. Subsequently, policy has been directedtoward subsidizing middle income homeownership or private sector rental housingthrough temporary programs, failing to address housing for the low-incomepopulation (Grieve and Hulcbanski, 1984). This has meant that rather than ahousing policy as such:.there have been a series of housing programs designed to stimulateprivate residential construction as an instrument of macro-economicpolicy. There has been little concern over distribution issues(Hulchanski, 1988a: 16).Housing policy has been used as a tool of the government to meet economicgoals; through construction unemployment is reduced, which in turn has a‘multiplier’ effect, stimulating consumer demand (Harris, 1991). These policies failto provide any overall broad housing strategy and instead are dependent on thepolitical and economic conditions of the day (Grieve and Hulchanski, 1984).1Market welfare seeks short term housing solutions to provide an immediate supply of housingthrough private sector investment. Social welfare on the other hand, seeks housing solutions thatwill ensure longer term supply and affordability through government intervention.28This market welfare approach is represented by supply-side policies thatinvolve subsidizing private investors either directly or indirectly through taxinducements, in the hope that the benefits of this investment will “trickle down” tolower income households (Grieve and Hulchanski, 1984). An example of such aprogram is the Multiple Unit Residential Building Program (MURB), implemented in1974 wherein the tax system allowed owners of MURBS to shelter non-rentalincome by claiming it against rental losses from MURB-designated properties.Other market-welfare initiatives are demand-side subsidies, such as shelterallowances directed toward those most in need. These subsidies help to close the gapbetween market rents and what renters are able to pay.These market welfare initiatives, the focus of Canadian housing policy, havenot been successful in helping those most in need. As explained by Cauduro(1992:87) these are short-term solutions that are not working properly to alleviaterental housing problems:Not only have these programs failed to benefit those most in need, butthey have contributed minimally to the nation’s permanent stock ofaffordable rental housing; such initiatives may actually becontributing to the loss of affordable rental housing stock. Often,building sites for new rental development (stimulated by private rentalsubsidy programs) have become available only through the demolitionof existing rental buildings. Also rental units once built, do not remainin the rental sector very long. Many units, for example, are lost toconversion and subsequent resale on the private market.For example, the MURB Program, while allowing individuals in the 50% taxbracket to shelter income from other sources, did nothing to help provide low-incomerental units. The units tend to be registered as condominiums, and are at the higherend of the rental market. The estimated cost of this program alone to the federaland provincial governments in the period between 1976 and 1982 was almost threetimes greater than that spent on the Non-Profit and Co-Operative HousingPrograms (Grieve and Hulchanski, 1984).29Additionally, shelter allowances, while seemingly an obvious solution to theproblem of housing affordability, also have not succeeded in alleviating thesedifficulties because: they are often in the form of shallow subsidies, which, becausethey are spread out to a large number of households are not sufficient to makehousing affordable; they do not work in tight rental markets where rental housing isnot available; they increase rent since supply is fixed over the short term; problemsof overcrowding and inadequate conditions are not addressed; and they arevulnerable to change with shifts in political agendas (Anderson, 1992).Social welfare initiatives, on the other hand, involve government intervention,acknowledging the inability of the market to secure affordable housing for certainpopulation groups. The inherent inequities in the market restrict the choices peoplewith low incomes have.the choice which advocates claim is provided by the market is, inmany respects, illusory. The market does not offer perfect competitionas popularised by the new right, but is frequently characterised byoligopolies or monopolies which can reduce consumer sovereignty anddetermine prices (Clapman, et al., 1990:29).Social welfare initiatives in Canada, thus far, have involved non-profit andcooperative rental programs, which have helped to supply some affordable housing.However, social housing programs comprised of cooperatives, non-profits, publichousing and rent supplements account for only 4-5% of the total housing stock inCanada (Kiodwasky, et al., 1985). Canad&s social housing program is one of thesmallest and least developed among major western nations (Hulchanski, 1988a).This contrasts dramatically to countries which support comprehensive housingpolicies, like Sweden where 58% of that country’s housing is non-profit (Greve,1971).Hence, the major problem with the social housing program in Canada is therelative size, given the demand. The disproportional support given to social welfarepolicies is evident in policies such as the Canadian Homeownership StimulationPlan which gave grants of $3,000 to first time home buyers, almost equal to five30years of CMHC’s social housing budget. The total spent on this plan from June 1,1982 to January 1, 1984, was $782.4 million, in comparison to only $792.1 millionby CMHC on all its varied social programs during the period from 1979 to 1983(Bacher, 1986). This grant, and many other subsidies such as the Registered HomeOwnership Saving Plan and the Assisted Home Ownership Program, to name a few,are most beneficial to higher income earners through the income tax system(Hulchanski, 1988a). This inequitable spending is reflected in the federal budget onhousing, where: “AS of 1986, only one percent of the federal budget is spent on socialhousing” (Ibid.:31).Important to the debate on housing delivery for low-income households is themaintenance of affordable housing stock in the long term. Cauduro (1992) discussesthe lack of consideration of land tenure issues in the design of both market-welfareand social-welfare policies. Neither policies ensure a long term supply of affordablerental housing. With regard to social housing Cauduro (1992:95-96) points out:.the government’s disregard for land issues in housing policy actuallyundermine any long term social benefits resulting from this hugeannual investment in the non-profit sector.The notion of community land trusts is suggested as one way in which to guaranteethat affordable social housing is retained in perpetuity once it is established.Clearly, housing policy is complicated, and deserves greater attention thancan be afforded in this thesis. However, evidence reviewed for this short discussionindicates that the provision of affordable housing for lower income families has notbeen effectively met by market-welfare policies at the federal level, and thesepolicies may in fact be contributing to a loss of this type of housing.Government policies, have, to a large extent, dictated the housing optionsthat are available to single parents which will be explored in the next section.313.4 Some Housing Options Available to Single Parent FamiliesThis section will discuss some of the options available to single parentfamilies, differentiating between conventional options including: homeownership,homesharing, and renting; and alternative options that are built by and for womenled families including: co-housing, cooperatives, and non-profit housing societies.3.4.1 Conventional Market Housing OptionsSince conventional housing in the private sector thrives on a competitivemarket, house prices or rents are typically high and vacancies are low. Thus, thismarket arena effectively excludes many single parent families as they cannotafford to pay these market prices. Furthermore, the housing provided by this sectoris often inappropriate in meeting the special needs of single-parent families.Therefore, while this thesis will give an overview of some of the options available tosingle-parent families, it will focus primarily on the alternative housing optionswhich are more affordable and fulfilling of the needs discussed in the previoussection. Home ownershipThe North American Dream of owning a home still remains alive for manypeople despite the fact that many will not be able to financially realize it. Factorssuch as metropolitan structural changes in the labour force with a shift frommanufacturing or secondary sectors to service or tertiary sectors, that haveoccurred since the 1970s, have had a significant impact on household income andthe affordability of a home in cities such as Vancouver. This shift has seen a declinein the overall employment in the manufacturing industries while employmentcontinues to grow in the service sector. Daniels, et al., (1991) document an increasein absolute employment in Vancouver of 12,000 manufacturing jobs between 1971-86, while service sector employment increased by 32,000 jobs during the same32period. Expansion in the service sector will account for 81 per cent of employmentgrowth in the 1990s (CMHC, 1991).The service sector is marked by a bifurcation of the labour force--a division ofthe labour force into two distinct groups: high income industries such ascommunications, finance, transportation, and business services; and low-incomeindustries such as retail, personal services, accommodation and food (CMHC,1991).While high income occupations in the service sector demand a higher level of skilland training, and provide stable employment with good benefits and job protection,the lower-income service occupations do not. The latter often involve part-time, lowincome positions and provide minimal benefits and job security. Part-time, short-term and temporary employment in this sector is increasing dramatically,accounting for 50 per cent of growth in the service sector between 1980-88 (CMHC,1991). The concentration of women into these low-paid service occupationseffectively eliminates many from participating in the housing market, particularlysingle parents, as dual incomes are now almost imperative to qualiVy for amortgage.In the early 1950’s less than a third of all family households had morethan one wage earner. By the 1980’s more than two thirds had twowage earners and it took both incomes rather than one, to qua1ifr for amortgage on an average suburban house (Hulchanski, 1988a:27).Homeownership for many families in big cities like Vancouver is not viable.In Vancouver in 1991, the price for the average residential unit in the City ofVancouver (which includes detached, attached, apartments and multi-family units)was $264,000 (Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 1991). Assuming thatpurchasers are able to provide the 12 percent down payment, required to qualify fora mortgage on the home, at 223,924 and a three year mortgage at 9.875 per cent(rate as of November 8, 1991) the purchaser would be faced with a monthlymortgage payment of $1,790.49. With taxes and heating costs factored into theequation, the total monthly costs for the house would be $1,940.49. In order to33qualify for a mortgage, using the tradition 1/3 of income calculation, householdincome would have to be $72,768. While this is financially untenable for most dualearner households in B.C. who earn an average annual income of $53,023, it is farbeyond the financial capacity of almost all female lone parent in families who in1990 earned an average of $23,295 (Statistics Canada, 1990).For some women homeownership is an option as their income is higher thanaverage or they have been left the family home in a divorce settlement. Many feel asense of attachment to their neighbourhood as their children have settled in a schooland the family has established social relationships. However, living in ancommunity surrounded by dual couple families can be a very painful reminder,particularly to those women who are recently divorced or separated. The singlestatus of these women often serves to isolate these women in a social sense in anenvironment where couple relationships are the norm. HomesharingEven though some women desire to remain in the neighborhoods that theyand their children have grown accustomed to, they find it difficult financially, whichmakes homesharing a compromise that can be a viable option. Shared housing is:an arrangement in which two or more unrelated people pool theirpersonal, financial and physical resources and share a dwelling. Eachperson has his or her private room but shares common areas such asthe living room, dining room and the kitchen (Home and Baldwin,1988:21).In the case of the single mother, a common scenario is the woman is awardedthe family house in a divorce settlement, but finds the financial upkeep prohibitiveand, therefore, invites another single parent family to live in her house. This resultsin shared costs of such things as utilities, property taxes, and maintenance.Mothers also share child-care and household responsibilities, resources, and provideemotional support for one another.34There are many problems that can arise with this kind of living arrangement.Mothers often feel a lack of privacy if there is no clearly delineated space for eachfamily. This can lead to conflict over parenting methods, which causes tension whenliving in close quarters. Often mothers have different values and standards ofdiscipline in their parenting and are offended if this is intruded upon.However, homesharing can be a viable option for some women and theYWCA provides a list of mothers who are interested in such accommodations.Evidence in the literature indicates that homesharing can be successful if a numberof criteria are met. These criteria include: (1) housing design that is efficient andappropriate; (2) service support and social interactions within the community; and(3) locations accessible to services (Klodawsky and Spector, 1985).The success of homesharing really depends on the compatibility between twofamilies. If an arrangement is a good one and the conditions of the agreement areexplicit many advantages can accrue including: providing affordableaccommodation; security of tenure, as long as the contract stipulates; choice of afamily home which is geared toward active children; and plenty of opportunities forsharing and support. However, as was indicated earlier, there can be problems withprivacy, which may be a disadvantage of this type of housing environment. Rental AccommodationIn the cases where mothers are not awarded a home in a divorce settlement,or feel they cannot sacrifice their sense of privacy by living with another family,renting is a common alternative. However, in large cities like Vancouver or Toronto,vacancies for affordable rental accommodations are often limited. Consequently,many single-parent families are forced to move further out into the suburbs, awayfrom amenities and employment opportunities. Many of the outlying suburbs inVancouver have rapidly growing lone parent family populations due to the relativelylarger supply of affordable rental accommodation.35The rental housing situation is particularly difficult in large Canadian citiessuch as Vancouver as the gap between affordable rents and market rents andbetween market rents and recovery rents have been ever widening since the1970s2.These increasing gaps have led to market failure in the rental sector andthe need for government intervention: “The only private rental units built in the1980’s have been under government subsidy programs, and almost all multipledwelling starts during the 1980’s have been condominiums” (Hulchanski, 1988a:37).This is likely to continue as the private rental sector cannot function as a privatemarket in Canada due to:.upward cost pressures of supplying a rental unit and the downwardtrend in the income profile of renters. There are not enough tenantswith the incomes necessary to support the economic returns requiredto make most new rental projects viable (Hulchanski, 1985:31).Low income families such as single parents are among the most affected by thesemarket conditions.For example, the average apartment rental rate of privately-initiatedstructures in Metropolitan Vancouver in April of 1991 for a Bachelor suite was$482, a one bedroom $582, a two bedroom $754 and a three bedroom $889 (CMHC,1991a). These market rents limit entry into the housing market for theimpoverished sectors of the population like single-parents, who in B.C., earn anaverage of $23,295 per year (Statistics Canada, 1990) forcing them to budget closeto half of their income on rent.Rental competition continues to increase for low income earners as the“...rental sector is becoming a residual one, containing virtually all lower incomeCanadians and very few higher income Canadians” (Hulchanski, 1985:30). While2”Affordable” rent refers to some subjective level which households do not have a problem paying;“market rent” refers to the price of a rental unit determined by the private market; and “recoveryrent” is the rent level that is required to make new construction feasible without governmentsupply subsidies (Hulchanski, 1984).36there are increasing rates of homeownership among the upper income groups, in1990 only 15% of renters between the ages of 20-44 could afford to buy a house inVancouver (CMHC, 1991). The implications of this shifting socio-economiccomposition in housing tenure are great.It does not simply mean that the poorest, most disadvantagedsections of the population are concentrated within the worst segmentsof the housing stock. It also means that, as a group, tenants have fewfinancial and, often, political resources to change their circumstances(Clapman, 1990:68).Rental demand is forecasted to increase as migration to the lower mainland fromother parts of the province, other provinces and other countries remains strong(CMHC, 1991a).In summary, while homeownership, homesharing and renting are housingoptions, they are not always viable ones for single parents- owning a home in a largecenter, while financially untenable for many dual-earner families, is inconceivablefor most single parents; finding a compatible family to share a home with oftenpresents difficulties; and the gap between market rents and affordable rents, andmarket rents and recovery rents remains problematic.3.4.2 Alternative Housing Options Built and Developed by and forWomen and Their ChildrenSince the majority of production and distribution of housing is conductedthrough the private market, alternative housing is less well-known. However, it isbecoming more common as people become cognizant of the possibilities and thepotential benefits it can provide. Alternative housing is particularly attractive forthose segments of the population for which the private sector does not provide. Notonly is it more affordable, it also, in most cases, is more sensitive to the specialneeds of groups like single-parent families. The three alternatives discussed here areco-housing, co-operatives, non-profit housing societies. These housing types provide37excellent examples of women taking control of their housing, actively planning anddeveloping their housing environments. Co-housingThe Co-housing concept originated in Denmark in the 1960s in reaction to asense of loss of family, community and belongingness experienced in existingresidential apartments and single-family houses. The Co-housing solutionincorporates these “old notions” of family, community and belongingness that usedto occur naturally, with contemporary lifestyles. This alternative housing form isgaining popularity in North America as people are becoming more disillusioned withpresent living arrangements. A Co-housing development in Seattle called WindSiowis recently completed and a group of Vancouver residents are currently in thedevelopment process stage for their community WindSong, located in Langley, asuburb of Vancouver.Although this arrangement differs in many significant ways, the notion of aCo-housing conjures up, in many minds, communes of the 1960s. However, unlikethe 60s communes the central focus is not on a religious or political ideology, but oncreating a practical and social home environment. It is a real community as it isbased on a cross-section of old, young, families and singles. Each resident or familyhas a separate dwelling and can chose how much they want to participate.Co-housing is a comprehensive approach wherein people come together as acommunity and with the help of consultants undertake the entire developmentprocess from site selection, to design, to construction and ongoing management. Thegeneral principles which are embodied in Co-housing are:(1) Participatory Process- all planning and design are determined by theresidents;(2) Intentional Neighborhood Design- designed to promote a sense ofcommunity;38(3) Extensive Conunon Facilities-used to foster community and to supplementprivate space;(4) Complete Residential Management-residents determine all decisionsconcerning their community (McCamant and Durrett, 1988). The opportunityto participate in the design, construction, and management of the developmentenables residents to control their own environment. Through the involvementin this process a sense of community and ‘belongingnes& is created.The concept of Co-housing can be an appealing one for families such as singleparents as it offers significant gains in providing support and creating a sense ofcommunity. The shared facilities also reduce long term living expenses in food, childcare and other shared expenses. However, because the goals of creating such acommunity are so high, the development process becomes a lengthy one, resultingin cost overruns that tend to extinguish affordability. This process also requires ademanding time commitment with residents meeting as frequently as once a weekfor a few years before the community is actually complete.Since there is a paucity of literature in English on Co-housing and theexperience of this type is limited in North America, it is difficult to evaluate theeffectiveness of this housing in meeting the needs of single parent families. Whilethis housing option appears to be a favorable one, the realities of time and moneyfor such a project make it questionable currently as a viable option for singleparents. However, if ownership alternatives such as cooperatives or limited equitycooperatives were more available, as well as an abridgment of the developmentprocess, perhaps in the future the benefits of Co-housing could then be brought intothe realm of affordability for these families. Co-operativesThe birth of Co-operative housing in Canada occurred in 1973 followingamendments to the National Housing Act (Selby and Wilson, 1988). Responsibility39for the development of cooperatives was given to non-profit housing communitygroups who were given 100% mortgage insurance from Canada Mortgage andHousing Corporation and development-cost start up funds. These funds wereincorporated into the capital costs and became eligible for subsidy if the projectwent ahead. An operating grant was given to each co-op to bridge the gap betweenmonthly amortization costs at market-rate interest and an interest rate of 2%(Wekerle, 1988). The amendments to the Housing Act boosted the cooperativemovement, which previously encountered difficulties raising equity fordevelopment3.This encouraged more involvement from local community and thirdsector groups such as non-profit, cooperatives and non-governmental resulting insmaller scale housing developments.Co-operative housing combines aspects of both rental and owner-occupiedhousing in a unique form of tenure. Residents enjoy the security of tenure as long asthey observe the bylaws of the co-op, which are set by the members, who each havea vote. They also have control over their environment and discretion over how theunits are used. A board of directors is elected to supervise the management of theco-op. Members lease their dwelling unit from the co-operative corporation and thisshare purchase is returned upon vacating their unit, keeping ownership of the co-opin the hands of the existing members (Selby and Wilson, 1988).The co-operative structure is a popular housing alternative for many singlemothers. The results of Gerda Wekerle’s (1988) study of Women’s Housing ProjectsIn Eight Canadian Cities indicates that non-profit co-ops are for many women andchildren their first choice for housing. This is reflected in the numbers of singlemothers that live in co-ops. A 1985 study reveals that 24% of the households living3Fimding for the Co-Operative Housing Program was, however, withdrawn terminating theProgram in 1992.40in Vancouver that live in co-ops are single-parent families (Kiodwasky, et at., 1985)with national levels of 25% (Klodawsky, et al., 1983).There are both advantages and limitations of cooperative housing for single-mothers. Mothers faced with low wages and high costs for conventionalaccommodation find co-ops appealing with low membership fees, often less than$100, and the opportunity for subsidized rent. Additionally, housing charges are notexpected to rise as rapidly as the private market. Unfortunately, under thecooperative program government subsidies are limited, which results in three-quarters of the units charging market rents. Consequently, this alternative onlyaccommodates some of the women who are in need (Werkie, 1988). Furthermore,because demand for acceptance into these co-ops is great, and supply is limited,hopeful applicants may wait anywhere from one month to four years foraccommodation.Another advantage of co-operatives is security of tenure. Since women aremore likely to be renters than men, many women are living in an insecure form oftenure (McClain and Doyle, 1984). The co-op then becomes attractive as there is nostress of eviction from conversion or demolition. Equality and equity, principles ofthe cooperative movement, ensure that members are not faced with thediscrimination felt in the private sector. As long as the member obeys the rules setby all the members, they are free to remain in the coop as long as they choose.Co-operative living also offers the dual benefits of homeownership withoutthe isolation experienced by single mothers in the private sector. Co-operatives areoften designed to be as “house-like” as possible, to provide space necessary forfamily life. At the same time, it provides more than just shelter. Co-ops offer asupportive community atmosphere which is fostered by the sharing of spaces andactivities. Gerda Wekerle’s (1988) study of Women’s Housing Projects in EightCanadian Cities discovered that although the goal in these projects was to createadequate and affordable shelter, equally important was the creation of a supportive41community, where friendships form and mutual aid is exchanged, in a greaterintensity than is found in other types of housing cooperatives. Non-Profit Housing SocietiesAs the public housing program, implemented in 1949, was phased out in the197Os, non-profit housing programs and co-operatives became the main vehicle forproviding housing assistance (Hulchanski, 1988a). These programs were fundedsolely by the federal government in 1973 under the 56.1 Non-Profit and Co-Operative Housing Program and were administered by Canada Mortgage andHousing Corporation (CMHC). In 1986 the Provincial Non-Profit Program replacedthe Federal 56.1 Program. Under the Global Social Housing Agreement, subsidypayments became jointly shared with the federal government, under CMHC,providing 67 per cent of the funding, and the provincial government, under theBritish Columbia Housing Management Commission (BCHMC), contributing 33 percent. The subsidy is for thirty-five years and is to:.cover the difference between the break-even rent for the project andthe tenant rent contribution based on 30% of the household income.Capital cost financing is provided through a first mortgage with anapproved lending institution for up to 100% of the approved projectcost (BCMHC, 1993).CMHC insures the mortgage and the subsidies of CMHC and BCMHC aredirected toward operating costs. While BCMHC assists the non-profit society inacquiring the site, constructing and operating the housing development, the day-today management and on-going operations is the full responsibility of the non-profithousing society (BCMHC, 1993).Although co-operatives and non-profit housing societies both operate underthe same government Program and have many of the same economic and socialbenefits, they differ substantially in their form of tenure. All non-profit housing isrental based, unlike the unique blend of rented and owned tenure of the co-operativestructure. Many co-operatives have a mix of income levels, whereas tenants42selected for placement under the Non-Profit Housing Program must be in CoreHousing Need, (defined in section 3.2.1). To take into account changing incomesrents are adjusted annually.Like the co-op structure, the problem is one of demand. There is a longwaiting period to gain access to this type of housing. Despite these limitations, thisform of housing is a popular one with single-parents in large cities like Vancouverwhere 36% of these families live in non-profit social housing developments(Klodawsky et al., 1985).With the shift from public housing which is owned and operated bygovernment, to that owned and operated by municipalities, cooperatives and nonprofit housing societies, there was also a change in the built form. The housingdevelopments of non-profit and cooperative housing are small scale andinterspersed with market housing eliminating the stigma associated with large scalepublic housing. Much of the architecture is also designed to blend in with theneighboring buildings.When non-profit housing was under the Federal 56.1 Program occupancy wasoffered to a variety of income levels, which also contributed to a sense of normalcy.This was facilitated by amendments to the National Housing Act in 1979 (underwhich the Federal 56.1 Non-profit Housing Program and the 56.1 Co-operativeHousing Program operated). The purpose of the amendments was to:.extend the social status benefits of quasi-homeownership to twogroups: first, a moderate income group which probably could not affordto purchase a dwelling; and second, low-income residents who receivedfurther assistance to reduce housing charges to a maximum of 30 percent of adjusted family incomes (Wekerle, 1988a: 106).However funding cut-backs for these programs in 1986 replaced theseProgams with housing which is targeted specifically at low-income households,eliminating the income mix the previous Program offered, which “...in effect,reintroduced the public housing program” (Hulchanski, 1988a:21).43Research on how this housing serves the needs of single parent families inBritish Columbia is scant. However, the case study to follow in Chapter 4 on a localNon-profit Housing Society, Entres Nous Femmes Housing Society, will providesome insights as to what extent needs of families are being met.3.5 Indirect Benefits of Women as Housing Developers in AlternativeHousing EnvironmentsMany single parent families are unable to meet their higher order needs,(defined by Maslow, discussed in section 1.3) as they struggle to find safe,appropriate housing in a competitive market. However, research on alternativehousing arrangements indicates that this type of housing may be different, as it hassucceeded, in many cases, in meeting these needs. In the majority of cases in theWestern world physiological needs are met more or less by all groups in society. Formany population groups safety needs are also met; however, for others, like singleparent families, this is not always the case. Often these families are forced, becauseof low-income, to live in less desirable urban areas where they do not feel that theyand their children are safe. Safety needs have been found to be more attainablethrough alternative housing where safe environments are a consideration. Theprovision of such housing also provides these families with the opportunity to seekout their needs for love and belongingness in an atmosphere that is supportive andcommunity based. Their children are accepted and provided with safe play areaswhich mothers can monitor. They are equal members in a community where theyprovide input into their housing environment. Gerda Wekerle’s (1988) researchdiscovered that where women’s groups have undertaken to provide housing thefocus is beyond merely shelter, rather on what it does in their lives.Once the single parent feels that she and her family belong in a caring andsupportive environment they are able to work up to the next level on the hierarchyto meet their esteem needs, that are so often shattered, particulary after amarriage dissolution. A sense of empowerment develops as she participates in the44creation and management of her housing environment. Robert Fichter, et al.(1972:241) describes this potential for empowerment:When dwellers control the major decisions and are free to make theirown contribution to the design, construction or management of theirhousing, both the process and the environment produced stimulateindividual and social well-being. When people have no control over, norresponsibility for key decisions in the housing process, on the otherhand, dwelling environments may instead become a barrier to personalfulfilment and a burden on the economy.Through this empowerment a woman develops self-confidence, which raises her self-esteem as she takes control of her environment and her life. This desire toparticipate in and take control of their housing is higher among women’s thanamong other cooperatives (Wekerle, 1988).This empowerment that comes from alternative housing forms such as coops, housing societies and co-housing arises from both the instigation of the housingas well as the operation of it. The housing is initiated by these women; they mustbuy the land or buildings, hire an architect, apply for funding, and determine howtheir needs will be best met. After the housing is built there is a great deal ofmanagement that must be carried out such as the hiring and supervising of staff,financial planning and maintenance of the housing.While there is a paucity of research on the connection between housing andsocial development, there are indications that the psychological health of singlemothers and stability for the whole family improves as the housing situation does.Women not only gain self-esteem through the creation and the operation of theirown housing they also develop business and interpersonal skills. In Gerda Wekerleand Sylvia Novae’s (1989) study Developing Two Women’s Housing Cooperativesskill development was reported by 66.7 per cent of the women. These skills includedsocial, negotiation and administrative skills such as budgeting, finances andproperty management. These skills are beneficial in improving their relationshipsas well as finding employment. While links between housing and economic45development are also only beginning to be explored, researchers such as Joan Simon(1986: 10) concurs and notes direct links in the following ways:• An individual may be part of the business of developing and/ormanaging housing;• The experience ofbeing a housing consumer may develop skills usefulin business;• The dwelling itself may be the focus of business activity - living in“the shop” appears to be a growing trend in our post-industrial society.The opportunities for economic development in alternative housing arrangementscould be further expanded upon if funding for such things as daycare centers weremade available.Furthermore, when women are involved in such things as the design of theirhousing much more appropriate space is provided for them and their children,creating a higher level of satisfaction with their housing. Much of conventionalhousing is not adequately designed to address the needs of women and children. Forexample, space for children to play that facilitates surveillance by the mother isoften not addressed in traditional housing design. This is an essential feature formothers in order for them to carry on their household chores while looking out forthe safety of their children.Through this housing and the opportunities it provides, women satisfy theirlower order needs and begin to gain confidence through the mastery of new skills,which enables some to gain a sense of unlimited potential. This can lead to thesatisfaction of the ultimate need, that of self-actualization. It is at this stage thehighest level of need gratification is met, where full humanness is experienced, andthe greatest contributions to society can be made.3.6 SununaryThe structure of the North American family is changing rapidly. One of themost noticeable changes is the increasing number of single parent families. This46family type is, in fact, the fastest growing of all families. As a result, there areparticular housing needs these faiiiilies have that are different than joint parentfamilies which are often not considered in housing policy. While the emphasis onmarket-welfare housing policies have succeeded in providing good housing for mostCanadians, it has not aided in alleviating housing problems for those most in need.More comprehensive housing policies that involve greater emphasis on housingdelivery by non-profit housing societies and co-operatives deserve greater attentionas they are found to effectively meet the needs of single parents. Included in thesepolicies is retention of affordable housing supply in the long-term, which may beassisted by such structures as land trusts. The potential of alternative housinggoes beyond simply supplying shelter; it confers other benefits including instillingthe mothers with a sense of stability, empowerment, and the development ofbusiness skills. These benefits are transferred to the whole family, improving theoverall health of their communities and will be examined in more detail in thefollowing case study.474.0 ENTRES NOUS FEMMES HOUSING SOCIETY CASE STUDYAs the literature review has indicated, female single parent families, becauseof their low socio-economic position, face many hardships when they seek housing inthe marketplace. Finding appropriate housing that meets their particular needs andthose of their children is a continuous struggle. Various types of alternative housinghave developed out of a concern for these largely unmet needs. One such alternativethat will be explored in this thesis is Entres Nous Femmes, a non-profit housingsociety in Vancouver. This case study is limited to examining how well this housingmeets the needs of single parent families, and to an analysis based on theexperiential knowledge of the “experts” who live in this housing. The value of thishousing to the lives of these families can effectively be found through the voices ofthe women who head these families, voices that are frequently not heard.This chapter begins with an outline of the methodology that was utilized inthe research of this case study. Then, a brief historical background of the housingsociety is given from its early beginnings in 1980 to today. Next, the organization ofthe housing society is examined. Finally, the research findings are presented,illustrating how the women living in ENF feel that their needs as single parents arebeing met. The findings also reveal the extent to which living in this housing hasempowered women and encouraged the development of new skills; improvedphysical and mental health and their relationships with, and lives of, their children;and in general, enabled them to move forward in positive directions in their lives.4.1 Research MethodologyA concern for facilitating both depth and breadth in this research resulted inthe decision to employ both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The purposeof this section is to discuss how these methods were employed for this case. Thesource for quantitative information was obtained from:48• A survey - In order to determine what type of housing best meets the needs offemale single parent families a survey was conducted with five of the eightVancouver Entres Nous Femmes housing communities. The female single parentsevaluated their housing based on a number of criteria including: accessibility,availability, security of tenure, appropriateness of facilities for children, householdmaintenance, opportunities for sharing and support, privacy and safety. The surveywas also aimed at discovering if there were additional benefits that were realizedonce the women became established in their housing communities.Although quantitative methods are necessary to provide a broad andgeneralizable set of findings in the form of statistical data through the survey, thegoal of this research was to go beyond this data to gain a greater understanding ofthe housing situation of female single parents. To do this qualitative evidence wasderived from the following sources:• Documentation- In order to understand the context of this case it was essentialto explore in detail how the housing society was developed and organized. Thisinformation was retrieved from minutes of the meetings and tenant informationbooklets.• Interviews with a key informant- An interview with founding member, LeslieStern contributed in an elaboration of the historical background of ENF.• Meetings- Attendance of a tenant orientation meeting provided furtherunderstanding of the history of ENF as well as insight into the lives of the tenantsand the workings of the housing communities. A meeting with Board membershelped to facilitate an understanding of how the Society functions at a managementlevel.• Focused interviews- Interviews were conducted to complement, expand upon,and check the validity of the quantitative data found in the survey. While thequestions for the interviews were predetermined, the interviews were conducted inan open-ended, conversational manner to allow for fresh insight into the subject49matter. This approach for conducting the interviews was chosen as thisstandardized format reduces the interviewer effect by asking the same questions toeach respondent. It also minimizes the necessity of interviewer judgement duringthe interview. While the trade-off is less flexibility and individualization, thisapproach improves credibility as equal amounts of information are collected fromparticipants (Patton, 1990). The data collected is still open-ended in that thequestions facilitate personal insights, thoughts, and detail.Interested women volunteered for interviews either in person or by phone.These interviews were recorded through notes and/or an audio-tape. The data thatwere collected from these interviews were then identified, coded and categorized tofacilitate content analysis. To begin this process the data was organized intothemes and files which became the data index of the interviews. This served tosimplify the data into a manageable form.• Observations- Direct observations were made during visits to the communitiesto better understand the context in which the single mothers live. Theseobservations served to provide a more comprehensive view of the housing situation.Several specific steps were taken in the process of researching this casestudy:(1) contacting Entres Nous Femmes to determine whether the society wouldsupport a research project aimed at evaluating the tenant’s perception of how theirhousing is meeting their needs as single parents;(2) presenting a proposal to Entres Nous Femmes for the research at a meeting ofthe Board members and working with informants to develop an appropriatestrategy;(3) reviewing the documents to provide a background to Entres Nous Femmes;(4) interviewing a key informant to augment an understanding of the Society’shistory;50(5) attending a tenant orientation meeting and a Board meeting to facilitate agreater understanding of the Society;(6) administering the survey questionnaire to female single parent tenants todetermine how their housing is meeting their needs and those of their children, aswell as determine the concomitant benefits;(7) conducting in-depth interviews to augment and enrich the data found in thesurvey with personal insights from female single parents;(8) observing the housing environments to gain an understanding of the context ofthe case;(9) analyzing the results of the survey and the interviews to determine: (i) whatextent this type of housing delivery meets the needs of female single parent families,(ii) what further indirect benefits can non-profit housing bring to single mothers;(10) interpreting to go beyond the descriptive data:Interpretation means attaching significance to what was found,offering explanations, drawing conclusions, extrapolating lessons,making inferences, building linkages, attaching meanings, imposingorder, and dealing with rival explanations, disconfirming cases, anddata irregularities as part of testing the viability of an interpretation(Patton, 1990:423).(11) utilizing the information derived from the various methodologies todemonstrate the extent to which the non-profit approach of Entres Nous Femmesis successful in meeting the needs of single parent families. This informationprovides a forum for future policy discussions as to what is the most appropriateform of housing for these women, leading to considerations for future housingdelivery.4.2 Historical BackgroundEntres Nous Femmes is a grassroots organization that germinated out of thefrustrations felt by a number of female single parents over a lack of recognition oftheir housing needs. This section serves to illustrate how this frustration led these51women to organize to implement change in their lives, which subsequently led to theformation of a non-profit housing society.4.2.1 Early Beginnings: 1980- 1985The seed was planted for Entres Nous Femmes in the early 80s when a groupof women, frustrated by the lack of acknowledgement of single mothers’ needs ingovernment policy, began to organize around their common concerns. Supportgroups were formed with the help of the YWCA. The Y provided the space, childcare,and the facilitator to maintain on-going groups.The women identified a number of issues that were important to them. Withthe identification of these issues symposiums with themes such as “Let’s makeMother’s Day Something to Celebrate”, and “Uniting for Change”, were held todiscuss the concerns of single mothers. A survey of single mothers was conductedwhich identified four major areas of concern for female single parents including:housing, income and welfare rights, women and the law, and childcare. Women thenbecame organized by becoming members in one of these focus groups. This led tothe formation of the Single Mothers Action Committee (SMAC), which decided thathousing was a good issue to start with, and that over time other issues would bedealt with.SMAC drew up a position paper which stated a number of goals including:affordable housing, co-operative environment, development of jobs for women, and24 hour child care support. This led to the formation of a Task Force in 1984. Themembers wanted the support of the YWCA to be their non-profit sponsor in order toput their ideas into action. However, the response from the YWCA was that theydidn’t have the money to develop housing. This was a disappointment for the4Background information for tbis section was derived from an interview with a founding memberof ENF, Leslie Stem.52Committee but the YWCA did agree to support the group in forming their ownorganization and contributed $1,000 and a letter of support.Subsequently, the Entres Nous Femmes Housing Society was created, freefrom YWCA restrictions. The women were a:Il anxious to create some change andthis urgency was hastened by the rumour that CMHC would be changing theirinvolvement in housing. This would result in 1985 being the last year of CMHC’s56.1 program. (Section 56.1 of the National Housing Act is the enabling legislationthat involved the federal government in non-profit housing.) Governmentinvolvement did indeed shift with a provincial-federal agreement which resulted inthe federal government assuming responsibility for cooperatives and the provincialgovernment taking over responsibility for non-profit housing. As a result, the firstbuilding, Alma Blackwell, which was built under the federal government, was mixedincome housing as mandated under the 56.1 program. All non-profit buildings afterthis, which includes all of ENF buildings except the first, are under the newprovincial agreement, stipulating the housing only be geared toward the core needy,with subsidies jointly shared with the provincial government contributing 1/3 andthe federal government 2/3.The women quickly organized and made linkages with Inner City, a resourcegroup that was experienced with the development of Co-operatives. They agreed tojob share the project on a 2/3 - 1/3 basis. With the backing of the Inner CityResource Group and the YMCA, the group of women gained credibility in theindustry. This group co-shared development costs with them, as well as providedoffice space and money for the option on the land. This money helped to secure theland for the first housing community, Alma Blackwell on Adanac street. A proposalcall was submitted to CMHC and the Society went through two levels of approvalonly to be turned down by CMHC. CMHC changed the criteria upon which projectswere judged from that which met a social need to one which was cost efficient. SoENF joined forces with Sitka Co-Op and Red Door, who were also rejected, and53lobbied Ottawa, the regional CMHC office, Ministers of the Legislative Assemblyand Ministers of Parliament. The platform was housing for women and after cogentdiscussions, CMHC gave ENF the approval to develop.4.2.2 Entres Nous Fenune Philosophy and Incorporation: February 1985Entre Nous Femmes was officially incorporated in February 1985 as a nonprofit society under provincial law. In 1987 the changes in the Society’s purposesand objectives were reflected in their registration under the BC Society Act andincluded the following:1. to acquire and operate one or more non-profit housing accommodations2. to promote, develop, and maintain the quality of life for single parents andtheir children3. To meet the crucial need of single parents for appropriate andaffordable housing by:a. Promoting, developing and maintaining housingb. Collating and providing housing information4. to facffitate networking and resource sharing among single parentfamilies5. to encourage greater participation by single parent families in thecommunity at large6. to do all such things as are necessary for attaining the purposes of theSociety (Society Act Certificate, 1987)Since ENF was developed by single mothers, for single mothers, thesehouseholds comprise the largest percentage of the tenants at approximately 60-70%. However, although the target group is single mothers, a supportive, mixedcommunity is believed to be healthy; thus, the balance of the community is madeup of two parent families, singles, couples and seniors. The development ofsupportive and interactive communities is hoped to facilitate moving familiesbeyond the stages of poverty. Their experience has shown that:.housing provides a base from which to move forward. Once basicneeds are met, lives stabilize; while work and income opportunitiesincrease. Our success to date has been our focus on both the needs andopportunities of program participants and users. (ENF tenantintroduction booklet)544.2.3 Development Begins: 1985Once the Society was incorporated and the goals were clearly outlined muchmore work lay ahead. A meeting was set at Britannia Community Center forprospective tenants; it was attended by 250-300 people. This first meeting createdthe first waiting list. Several tenant committees were set up such as design,management and finance to encourage tenants to become involved at all levels. Amanagement committee comprised of three tenants, three board members, andchaired by the President of the Society was set up to administer the program andbuilding.An architect was hired to represent them and to negotiate with CMHC. Theprocess was guided by the women who determined the design guidelines in terms ofsuch elements as space, light, courtyards, kitchens over courtyards, and so on.Such guidelines were of foremost importance to the women in the design process. Inkeeping with a mandate to view housing from the woman’s perspective, the primaryproject design criteria came to include:(1) Safety and Security(2) Light and Livability(3) Easy Maintenance(4) Ability to Monitor Children(5) Accessible Common Room and Play AreasThe first building, Alma Blackwell on Adanac Street in East Vancouver, wascompleted in July 1986 and tenants moved in August 1986. This was followed withseven more buildings including: Beatrice Terrace completed in December 1987 inEast Vancouver; Antkiw Court completed in October 1988 in East Vancouver;Jessica Place completed in May 1991 in Surrey; Margaret Heights completed inOctober 1991 in North Vancouver; Constance Court completed in January 1992 inEast Vancouver; Natalia Terrace completed in June 1992 in South Vancouver; andEvelyn Estates completed in April 1993 in Surrey.554.3 The Organization of Entres Nous FemmesThere are two levels of organization and management of ENF- the Boardlevel and the level of the individual communities. The Board is made up of aPresident, Vice-president, Secretary, Treasurer, elected Tenant Directors (one fromeach community), and members at large. (ENF is the first non-profit housingsociety to include tenant participation on the Board of Directors.) The purpose ofthe Board is to facilitate in the functioning of the communities, making decisions onthe management and development of the Society. Only members and Boardmembers have a vote on major decisions.5This structure is much different from a co-op where each resident is amember with a vote and participates fuIly in the decision-making. ENF tenants areencouraged to participate, but this participation is not mandatory as the burdensthat many single parents feel with multiple responsibilities is recognized as being agenuine obstacle for many. If they choose not to participate the property managerand the Board are responsible for ensuring that the housing is managed properly.The property manager is a non-resident hired to take care of the day-to-dayoperations of the buildings. Although the philosophy of ENF is that tenantparticipation is important as it promotes a sense of ownership and community, aswell as keeping costs down, this is not demanded of all tenants.For organization and management at the community level each communityhas a management team made up of interested tenants. This team meets todiscuss issues that are relevant to their community. These issues are then taken toeither the Board by the tenant director or to the property manager by the tenantrepresentative. A tenant director for each community is chosen annually by thetenants. The tenant director serves as a liaison between the ENF Board and the5For a more detailed account of the management structures of ENF see Geary (1994).56tenants, taking the tenant concerns to the Board for remediation. The tenantrepresentative’s function is to liaison with the property manager and to co-ordinateand chair community tenant meetings. Tenant meetings are held about once amonth and tenants are asked to participate in maintenance and on committees.Tenants set up their own committees to deal with such things as maintenance,mediation, social activities, gardening, recycling, and so on.Entres Nous Femme’s philosophy encourages involvement by the tenantsthrough the Society and/or through participation on the management team in theircommunity. Their position is that personal empowerment arises from participationin ones housing environment. Experience has proven this to be true:Two ENF tenants have served as President on the ENF Board,tenants and members have been hired as staff, and have gone on touse the knowledge and experience they have gained in the developmentprocess in the industry at large. Employment and trainingopportunities have been created along with supportive friendships anddistinctly individualistic housing communities. (ENF Housing SocietyInformation Sheet)4.4 Research FindingsThe objective of this primary research for this thesis was to evaluate thehousing environment of ENF to determine how effective it is in meeting the needs ofsingle mothers, as well as whether any indirect benefits are conferred by livingthere. First, though, housing histories of women interviewed were examined to gainan understanding of the realities single mothers face in the private market housingarena. These histories provide a contextual framework, which serves as a source ofcomparison with their current housing with ENF.The housing communities that were involved included Alma Blackwell,Beatrice Terrace, Antikiw Court, Constance Court and Natalia Terrace. (Thephysical inaccessibility of the remaining three ENF communities restrictedinvolvement to the buildings located in Vancouver.) The population group consistedof 89 single mothers from the five housing communities, from which sixteen57responded to the survey, resulting in a response rate of 18%; and seven womenagreed to interviews, equating to a 8% response rate. While the reasons for thisrelatively small response rate are not substantiated, there are a couple of plausibleexplanations. The tenants may have felt overburdened by the requests to volunteertheir time to researchers. A short time before research for this thesis wasconducted two other research projects were petitioning the women for similarinformation. Cultural/language differences is a further, reasonable explanation, thatwas given by one of the property managers for the low response rate in some of thecommunities. In the particular building that she manages, more than a quarter ofthe tenants speak a language other than English, which is a barrier that impedestheir ability to respond to such research. Despite the small sample size, someinteresting and valid insight was gained through the research which the followingsections document.4.4.1 Housing HistoriesThe literature review in chapter 3 examined the obstacles many singlemothers encounter when searching for adequate housing in the marketplace, as wellas difficulties with this housing once they find somewhere to live. This housingpredicament is echoed by many of the women interviewed when describing theirpersonal housing experiences prior to moving to ENF. An examination of thecontents of the seven interviews that were conducted revealed the following to bethe most salient of these difficulties: affordability, discrimination, safety, privacy,lack of space for children, insecure tenure, lack of maintenance and unhealthy livingenvironments.Since most housing is in the private market realm this is where the majorityof the women interviewed drew their personal experiences from. Only one of theseven women interviewed had previous experience living in an alternative housingenvironment, which was a co-op.58When looking for housing, affordability was cited by all of the women as thegreatest obstacle in their way of finding suitable housing for their families. Theiroptions were often limited to undesirable and unsafe areas, or to “better”, “safer”neighborhoods where they were relegated to dark, damp basement suites. In allcases it was found that the housing that was affordable was substandard for raisingchildren.Discrimination, which is interlinked with affordability, was another significantproblem experienced by five of the seven women interviewed when trying to findhousing. In an attempt to raise their children on their own many mothers are onwelfare, which automatically creates prejudice in the minds of many landlords. Thestereotypes of the single mother on welfare conjures up images for some, ofirresponsible, loose women, who have no control over their lives and their children.Many of the landlords did not want children in the building at all because of the noiseand as one mother said they believe: “children are hard on places”. Consequently,landlords employ a variety of tactics to avoid renting to single mothers. Some ofthese that were experienced by the mothers interviewed were: informing the motherthat all the suites were rented, when still available; restricting families with childrento ground suites, thus seriously limiting availability; inflating the price of the rent sothe mother would not be able to consider living there; requiring the renter to haveboth a good paying job and references.One mother found that having money in the bank was not enough when shelooked for housing without a job or references after her divorce:It is difficult to rent with children, [they] don’t want children. If youdon’t have a good paying job and references, you are out of luck, and alot of women, especially single parent women, make little money onwelfare, or are in a transition in their lives. In my situation beginning adivorce, I had an inheritance but no job, bad some money in the bankbut no one would consider looking at it because I didn’t have a job. It islike women getting credit or mortgages.59For this particular woman the consequences of this discrimination and a“catch 22” situation rendered her family homeless. She was unable to pay themortgage on her house, and because she owned a home with her ex-husband, socialservices felt she did not need aid with housing. She explains in the following passage:We were actually homeless for two months and lived in a tent with mychildren when my husband and I split up. We had owned a house, but Icouldn’t afford the mortgage as my husband refused to pay mortgageand child support, and on $350 from welfare I couldn’t support myselfand children. Because they decided I didn’t need shelter-they wouldn’thelp pay the mortgage. I had to rent out the house- the chequebounced-bad renters-had to live in a tent until I could sell the houseand then all the money went to the bank because I didn’t own it longenough.Finally she was able to find housing in a small one-bedroom basement suite, whereshe had to sleep in the living-room.Homelessness was also the fate of another woman and her children when sheleft her abusive relationship. She desperately searched for eight months for housing,finding the obstacles of discrimination and affordability overwhelming. As a result,during this time they were forced to live in a variety of places including shelters,with friends, and even back to the abusive relationship because they had no whereelse to go.Once these women were able to find a place to live, most commonly in abasement suite, there were other issues to deal with, such as: limited or no space forchildren; insecure tenure; safety; unhealthy living environment and lack ofmaintenance; and privacy.Firstly, almost all of the women (six of the seven) cited a lack of space,particularly for their children, to be a major source of contention in previous housingsituations. In most cases financial constraints limited them, regardless of theirfamily size, to one bedroom apartments or basement suites. Cramped quartersmeant most mothers were relegated to sleeping in the living room while theirchild(ren) slept in the bedroom. While interior space was limited for children, outside60play space was similarly inadequate, as it often did not exist or was limited and/orunsafe.Secondly, a secure home base was difficult to establish for many of the singlemothers as the threat of eviction was so imminent. Five of the seven mothers feltvery uncertain about their tenure in their previous housing. This atmosphere ofuncertainty arose out of a housing market in a state of constant flux, where the lossof rental housing to demolition and conversion is high. As one of the mothersexplained:You never knew whether you would be able to stay there, the way thehousing situation was. Houses could be sold tomorrow and you mighthave to move next month.The lack of good affordable housing, and the surplus supply of people lookingfor such places to live, puts tenants in a vulnerable situation with landlords who areprimarily interested in housing as an investment. This predicament was describedby one woman:I was not secure in my tenancy. The landlord lived in Vancouver. Hedidn’t want to do anything to the house. His attitude was if you don’tlike it, there are 25 people beating my door down and I can put the rentup $100. This was his whole attitude through my whole tenancy.This same “take it or leave it” attitude held by landlords was frequently theway requests for maintenance of the housing unit was handled. One womanexplains: “When I complained about the heating system never being cleaned, or thepeople upstairs making gross amounts of noise, he said: ‘too bad.” He displayedblatant disregard for her complaints as he was cognizant of potential renters thatwould take her place.Thirdly, safety was cited as a concern in previous housing circumstances forfour of the seven women interviewed. Affordable housing is often not found in themost desirable areas, forcing single parents to raise their families in neighborhoodswith high crime rates. In such environs prostitution and drug-use are commonplace,as are violent crimes which leads to a frightening reality for some, particularly for61one mother who has been jolted awake on occasion by gun-shots in herneighborhood.For another woman living next to a beer pick-up, which she was convinceddoubled for illegal activities, living in her unsafe neighborhood was a source ofcontinual stress for her as well, as she relays in the quote below:We used to see a lot of people come out with beer. It was okay until thelast year I lived there, then there would be people at midnight and 1:00a.m. with the lights on and there would be people drinking in the alleyand that kind of stuff. That scared my son a lot because his bedroomwas next to the alley and my back door was broken into. They nevermade it into my house, but there was an attempt...One of the women interviewed had her house broken into by a neighbor andconsequently called the police. This incident not only increased her fear level; it alsohas caused her problems with prospective landlords who want to know if tenantshave had a past history with the police. She feels her honest response to this hascreated discrimination against her when looking for housing.Lack of safety was reiterated by the fourth mother who lived in a basementsuite:The people who lived upstairs were young guys on welfare who wouldparty. Lots of dope smoking throughout the month. They were veryrowdy and it was threatening to the children. They would come downafter a beer. I didn’t feel safe at all.Fourthly, living in dank, dark basement suites, often improperly maintained,created unhealthy living environments and sickness for 4 of the 7 mothers and theirchildren. After moving into a basement suite one mother found it to be: “.. .so darkyou couldn’t stand it, you couldn’t breath because it was so hot or it was freezing.”Complaints about such things as excessive heat from the heat pipe that ran acrossthe ceiling of one woman’s suite fell on deaf ears as the landlord refused to fix it.These unhealthy environments are reflected in yet another quote:We were sick a lot. I have allergies. The dampness and the coldnessmade me really sick. The kids were sick a lot too, it wasn’t healthy forus to be there; it was infested; there was mold growing, and all sorts ofbugs.62Even in alternative housing such as a cooperative such problems inmaintenance can arise for a variety of reasons. The one woman interviewed thathad previous experiences with co-ops describes her ordeal:I moved out of the second co-op because my suite was really moldy,and very damp, and my son has allergies. I was so disappointed, I kepttrying for years for them to do something about it. The mold got intomy furniture and my son was sick from all the mold. It just wasn’t agood situation. I lived there for four years. The mold got worse everyyear. They kept doing band-aid solutions-putting a solution on thewalls to kill the mold-but come fall it would start all over again. Mysuite always had the worse mold. I didn’t know why my windows wereconstantly damp and my skin used to itch when I was there - for years- but I didn’t connect it. My son was moody then too, and he got testedfor allergies. He had mold and dust allergies; it wasn’t a good place tolive. They weren’t doing anything about it. The wood was all rotting.There is a lot of politics involved with co-ops. They said they hadmoney and then they would totally refinish a different site...Maintenance in market housing depends on the landlord’s discretion whereasfrom this woman’s experience in her co-op maintenance often hinged on political will.In the words of this woman:It was a scattered co-op. There were 7 sites. I found out that the one Ilived in always got the least amount done to it. It just depends who hasthe power. If there was someone powerful on my site, with the “in”crowd and demanded it, it probably would have been done. It comes alot to that unfortunately; nothing was ever done at our site. When I leftso did my neighbors, for similar reasons, and for their own personalreasons. I found out that they had the same problems, where thingsweren’t getting done, except that he used to be a carpenter, so he fixeda lot of stuff because after two years nothing was getting done. But Ididn’t know how to do that so I was stuck with all of the little thingsthat were wrong.Fifthly, lack of privacy was a problem one mother felt to be an issue. Manystruggling single mothers that have family support often have to contend withoverbearing parents who despite perhaps good intentions, encroach on the privacyof the mother. This was the case with this particular mother who rented from herparents. She felt that her dependence on them for her housing gave her parents thelicense to interfere in her life and that ofher children which, as she explained, “droveher crazy!”. This close involvement in her life made her feel that she was incapable63of raising her children. The private space of her home was continually invaded asher parents had a key to her place and would come in whenever they chose to.Infringement of privacy is also an issue with mothers who choosehomesharing as a cost-effective housing alternative. One mother found this to be agrave concern but was willing to compromise in order to find adequate housing. Shediscovered it was difficult to find a compatible family to live with and many motherswere afraid to give up their privacy and complete autonomy of child rearing.These histories are testimony to the obstacles single mothers face whenlooking for affordable housing in the marketplace which systematicallydiscriminates against their family type. When they do find housing it is oftencompromised by one, or a combination of many difficulties discussed above. Theexertion required can at times be overwhelming when combined with the soleresponsibility of parenting. Many mothers become depleted of energy, unable todivert their attention to their betterment as individuals and therefore to theimprovement of their family’s welfare. This self-defeating cycle affects esteem,often adversely causing women to feel powerless to make significant changes intheir lives.4.4.2 Housing in Entres Nous FemmesThe many frustrations felt by the single mothers interviewed led them toseek out alternatives to their current housing situation. Entres Nous Femmes wasdiscovered through a variety of ways including friends, a co-operative educationcourse, the YMCA, family services, B.C. Housing Registry, and the newspaper.A number of things attracted the women to ENF, the most common elementbeing affordability. Many of the women felt their role as sole caretakers of theirchildren rendered them vulnerable in the face of uncertainty. This mother’s wordsare typical of the insecurities single mothers feel:I knew I needed shelter, needed shelter I could afford, because if Ididn’t, if I got sick or didn’t have a job, I wouldn’t be able to feed my64kids. The bottom line was paying rent and full time daycare, and beforeI even put food on the table my costs were $1000- with daycare,transportation, and my rent. I have never made more that $1200 permonth. When you have kids you tend to take part-time work or jobsthat are close to home.Although she was somewhat hesitant when she discovered that the housing was notin the most desirable area, she conceded later:• . .as soon as I saw how much light I was going to have, and as soon asI saw I was going to have money to feed my kids, this was the basis ofmy decision, I really needed the security.Other attractions to ENF that the women interviewed commented on werecleanliness, absence of mold, and only minimum requirements for maintenance.Additionally, the Society was very supportive and understanding of the particularhousing needs of single parents and the communities were comprised of like-mindedpeople. This support for single mothers was obvious from one mother’s initialmeeting which she recalls in the following quotation:At one of the initial meetings for prospective tenants the architect wasthere, drawings were up, board members were there, and they all saida blurb about single parents.. .1 was very impressed with the design ofthe suites, grounds, etc. - more than I thought possible to have, forexample, bedrooms were on the top floor, separate from the main floor,-play areas were geared toward children and parents.. .It was brandnew, original tenants could pick their own colors.. .1 was impressedgenerally by their supportive way.. .it was built by single parents forsingle parents.Another women concurred: “I felt comfortable with the name. It seemed to bepositively slanted towards women.”4.4.3 Evaluation of Housing Environments by ResidentsWhen searching for affordable housing many single mothers were attractedto ENF and consequently pursued tenancy. The following section focuses on howavailable this housing was to these mothers as well as their evaluation of howvarious aspects including accessibility, security of tenure, appropriate facilities forchildren, safety, privacy, opportunities for sharing and support, and design features65meets their needs as single parents. The information is a collaboration of findingsfrom both a survey and interviews. AvailabilitySince the demand for good affordable housing is high and supply is limited, thewaiting lists for this type of housing are very long. All, but one of the sixteenmothers that responded to the survey indicated that they were on a waiting list toget housing with ENF. The wait for this housing ranged from 2 months to 5 years,with the average being 1 year and 9 months. This inundation of interest wasrecalled by one of the women interviewed who attended the first meeting ofinterested potential tenants at Britannia Community Centre in 1985. The meetingwas overwhelmed by 250-300 enthusiastic people all wanting housing with ENF.She became no. 232 on a waiting list that she was on for two years, until finally hernumber came up and she uprooted herself from the suburbs to Vancouver. Clearlydemand is far exceeding supply for this type of housing, leaving many single parentfamilies desperately waiting for a vacancy. AccessibilityFor single-parents proximity to essential services are crucial toaccommodate their responsibilities as a parent and their lack of mobility (only threeof the seven women interviewed had a vehicle, of these three- one had a scooter, andone could not afford the insurance). The mothers were asked in the survey andinterviews how accessible their housing was to work, schools, stores and otherservices. The survey results indicate that the majority of women are satisfied withthe proximity of their housing to these localities. While 10 women indicated thatproximity to work was not applicable, 3 responded that their housing was close towork and for 3 respondents it was not; 15 women replied yes schools and storeswere close to their housing, while only 1 woman in each case indicated that these66places were not close to home; 13 responded yes their housing was close to otherservices and 3 indicated that they were not.The high satisfaction with accessibility is understandable as four of the fiveENF buildings are centrally located in the eastside of Vancouver, whereas the fifthbuilding, Natalia Terrace, is located in the Fraserlands, surrounded by newdevelopments and little in the way of services. The two tenants interviewed in thelatter building expressed the greatest amount of dissatisfaction with accessibility.They felt isolated from most things as there is nothing but residential buildingswithin walking distance. One of the women who doesn’t have a car finds it veryinaccessible, as she explains:It is inaccessible to the schools my children go to. It is far fromeverything. The bus route is really terrible, it is every half hour. If youare lucky in the morning you might catch it every half hour and if youmiss that bus you have to wait another half hour. I really would ratherthe bus come every 15 minutes and not have to walk all the way upthe hill and wait for one that does. The bus that comes in the frontcomes every half hour; it is difficult. It is not accessible to thedowntown area so it really limits your job choices. I have to go all theway to the sky-train at 22nd avenue station. I have to take a bus tothe sky-train and then take the sky-train downtown. If there was abus accessible it would cut off 20 minutes to half an hour.Even with a car the other woman interviewed expressed the difficulties of living sofar away from everything and the complete dependence on your car:There is little bus service. I have a car and I have to drive everywhere.I would like to have the option. I am so dependent on my car; ifsomething went wrong with it, it would take hours and hours to getanywhere, especially with a little child; it is all up hill. Even walking tothe bus stop is difficult.While she finds the inaccessibility with a car difficult, she thinks it would bemuch more discouraging without one. Living so far away from employmentopportunities combined with the responsibilities of a child limits job choices whichwould be worsened without a car, as she further explains:It is so hard. I go to school on Friday morning on King Edward. It is a25 minute drive each way. If I had to take my son to a baby-sitter andgo there by public transit and pick him up my three hour course would67end up being a whole day enterprise, and the costs of the babysittingfor the extra travel time- it is really off-putting. It is really limiting. I dovolunteer work too; it is very stressful. The thought of workingdowntown and babysitting arrangements...The five women interviewed that live on the east side all felt that theirhousing was reasonably close to most places they needed access to and four of thefive felt that the public transportation system was convenient and efficient andconsequently did not feel that job choices were limited as a result. The fifth motherreported that while the transportation system is there, because of the problematicneighborhood it is not a pleasant experience:Public transit is horrible. My friends and I refer to it as the “TombsExpress”. It is appalling. It hasn’t improved at all. It is overcrowded.Sometimes you have to jump off the bus because people are fighting orthrowing up. It is a horror show. They should pay us to ride that bus.The Victoria and Hastings bus into this neighborhood is so bad. It is sodepressing; it smells. If you want to build your immunity to diseasetake that bus. It is getting so grungy; it is so awful.Because of this situation safety is an issue and this limits her choices for work andeducation:For me it is an issue of safety, I wouldn’t dare take that bus at night. Ifa woman works at night or goes to school at night, and most people do,and they have to rely on the bus, it isn’t very good. It would definitelyinhibit me. Security of TenureAnother major issue of concern voiced by the women is security of tenure intheir housing. Many of these single mothers seek stable home environments fortheir children where they are free from thoughts of eviction or unreasonable rentincreases. The overall response from the survey and interviews on the question ofsecurity of tenure in ENF was quite a positive one. Four of the women in the surveyindicated they were “completely secure” with their tenure; 11 felt “reasonablysecure”; only one felt “not very secure”; and there were no responses to the lastcategory- “not secure at all”.68There was a parallel response through the interviews as most felt that therewas little threat to their security. According to the women if they followed thetenant lease, paid their rent on time, and respected other tenants, their tenancywas assured. Those tenants not willing to follow such considerations are given threeletters of warning before an eviction notice is served. Such leniency gives tenantsopportunity to rectify their behavior, a luxury not afforded in the private market,making evictions rare.Tenants are also comforted in the knowledge that they will always be able topay their rent, as it never goes above 30% of their income. The sporadicemployment of some of the tenants is not seen as a threat to their tenure as theyare cognizant that their rent will readjust in times of unemployment. This sense ofsecurity is expressed in the following passage:I don’t have any worries at all. I like the way the rent has been set forthe year, if I start working in the next few months it doesn’t matterwhat I make, the rent stays the same. But if it were the other wayaround, and my rent was $500, and I lost my job, then they would putmy rent down, so I think that is really good. There are a lot of peopleout there who have lost their job and their mortgage is $1000, no one isgoing to lower it for them.While the fixed 30% of income for rent is seen by most as a bulwark againstinsecure employment environments, others also view it with some trepidation, asan increase in income results in an increase in rent, which can be for some adisincentive to raise their income level. The primary concern voiced by three of thewomen interviewed was the lack of ceiling on the rents, and in particular the impactthis has on community life. When rent surpasses market rent because of increasesin income it is no longer financially reasonable to live in ENF, despite the fact onehas become established in the community. These viewpoints are reflected in thefollowing quotes:I suppose if I made a lot of money I would be concerned about mytenure here. There is no ceiling on B.C. housing [rents]. I know somewomen who have had to move because they have reached an incomebracket where for the amount of rent they are paying they can get a69nicer apartment, dishwasher, etc. and no. 1 a safer neighborhood. Sothey leave, which is unfortunate because there are some women herethat make good money but I don’t think they particularly want toleave because it is their community, their family, but they have to payquite a bit in rent.The only disadvantage to a place like this is there is no ceiling, as Istart to earn money, I will always be paying one third of my grossincome, and there will be a point where I will be moving out. I like a coop where there is a mixture of incomes. Every-one who lives here ispoor otherwise they wouldn’t be here, it dictates a kind of mood. I don’tthink that is right. I think ENF’s philosophy is that it is for people whoreally need it, and when you no longer do, you should be moving on. Ifthere was a ceiling it would improve the social quality.The notion that housing with ENF is only for those that are in need, and onceyou have become empowered, and financially stable it is time to move out andbeyond, has also left some women feeling that they are missing the mark andsubsequently their tenure may be uncertain. This is reflected in the interviewexcerpt below:I think one could get a bit paranoid that you have spent too long herethat you should be successful already and that you should be on yourway and someone else should be moving in and because I am one of theoriginal people I start to wonder if that is a sign of failure, that I maybe here for ever. I almost think that someone will say, okay her timelimit is up, she has been here too long and will try to get rid of me orsomething. Appropriateness of Facilities for ChildrenThe women interviewed all expressed the importance of housing that wouldnot only meet their needs as single parents, but also those of their children. Mostmothers indicated that the housing they lived in prior to ENF was completelyinadequate in terms of safe play areas where they could watch over their children,as well as the provision of childcare. The survey and interviews sought to discoverhow these mothers felt ENF was meeting some of these important concerns.It was discovered from the survey that the majority of the respondents weresatisfied with the facilities in ENF for young children, but not for teenagers. Whenasked how adequate and safe the play areas around ENF were for children onewoman replied “completely adequate and safe” ; the majority (14) responded thatthey were “reasonably adequate and safe”; one responded “not very adequate andsafe”; and no one indicated that they were “not adequate and safe”. All of thecommunities have areas for children that are away from the street, situated in thecommunity courtyard and/or secured with a fence, and are supplied with playapparatuses (Figure 1).Figure 1The question concerning facilities for teenagers yielded less favorableresponses, there were no replies to “completely adequate”; only two indicated thatthe facilities were “reasonably adequate”; the majority (eight) felt that the facilitieswere “not very adequate”; four of the women thought they were “not adequate atall”; and for two respondents the question was not applicable.However, within the surrounding area the facilities for teenagers were ratedhigher with one respondent indicating these facilities were “completely adequate”;the majority (eight) felt they were “reasonably adequate”; two replied they were “not70• -__-__w-.- ••- •...—‘,. r — —- -.-.-•.;_.___-5.1_••- - - . -.71very adequate”; three women indicated they were “not adequate at all”; and again,for two respondents the question was not applicable. Thus, the facilities in thecommunity at large for older children may serve to compensate for the inadequaciesin the housing community in this regard as related in the following quote:The play areas are not adequate for older children. What happens withteenagers anyway is they go off with their friends. There are excellentcommunity centers in the neighborhood-swimming pools, etc., if thekids want to take advantage of it they can.The majority of the mothers also expressed some level of satisfaction withdesign of the play areas in terms of how conducive it is to the surveillance of theirchildren’s play from their housing unit (Figure 2). Three respondents indicated theycould “completely” monitor their children’s play area from their home; six indicatedthey could “reasonably” do so; four responded “not really”; and three indicated theycould “not at all” monitor their child(ren) at play from their housing unit.Evidence from the interviews generally concurs with these findings. Mostmothers found that despite the relatively unsafe neighborhoods, play space foryoung children is provided for within the housing community, and is designed in sucha way that mothers are able to keep a watchful eye on their children at play. Thefollowing is representative of many of the mothers’ thoughts regarding the playspace:We really rely on the playground for the young children. One bigadvantage is that the building looks onto the play area so that everyone keeps an eye on each other’s children. Sometimes they have 18parents instead of the one!The play areas are as safe as they can be.. .we have a community of18 families who all know each other.. .there is an awareness of otherchildren.. .ear and eye to children playing by all tenants.. .the area isfenced in and is secure and separate from the street.. .Older kids comeand go out of the gate, but children aren’t allowed, older kids watch outfor younger.72——ErEZE#4zWhile most appreciate the space for their children one mother had a fewcomplaints about the safety of the play area due to maintenance problems in herbuilding:I think given what I am paying and for what it is, I am really gratefulto have this play area. I think I would go crazy in an apartment; he isreally active. But it is not that safe; the fence is kind of flimsy and theycan easily get through. The planks are always falling down and kidscan get through.Yet in a different housing community, one mother appreciates the safety ofthe play areas, but not the people who visit the other tenants, as she explains:The issue I have here are there are some people that have guests herethat I don’t think are very safe people... I feel that the play space isdesigned in a safe way. But I don’t know who is walking in and out allthe time...I have a lot of rules for my son. He is not allowed to go in theplayroom unless there are other kids in there.Figure 273The second aspect of concern for mothers with respect to their children andhousing is how their childcare needs are met. Single mothers frequently cite the lackof childcare as one of the stumbling blocks to achieving such things as employmentand education for themselves. Housing such as ENF does lend to the formation ofsome informal arrangements for childcare as many of the women surveyedindicated- one mother felt that her housing community was “completely involved”with informal childcare arrangements and seven women indicated that theircommunity was “moderately involved”. Others experienced less involvement withfive women replying that their community was “not very involved with informalchildcare”, and three felt that they were “not involved at all”.Interviews yielded similarly divided results on this issue of the establishmentof informal childcare arrangements. Experiences varied depending on thecommunity and the relationships of the individual neighbors to one another. Somemothers did a lot of exchange babysitting which allowed them to go back to workand get off welfare. Informal networks with mothers in other ENF buildings createdfurther opportunities to reciprocate childcare. Others felt that while there is a lot ofsupport for their children there wasn’t a lot of exchanges, as the comment belowreflects:I don’t think that my children have had childcare in the building. Butwhat this transfers to is that it is a small community, a big family.They have seen babies born; they have grown up with the children inthe building. The building hasn’t changed over a lot. My children havegrown up with little kids so they are like the older brothers to some ofthe small children and that is really nice. They really care for eachother. They share birthday parties, so in this there has been a lot ofsupport-but not natural childcare.The mothers interviewed who did not develop informal arrangements withothers in their building expressed this as an important need which would assistthem in their parenting. One woman discussed attempts to establish a babysittingco-op to rectify this gap in her building, which never materialized because of lack ofsupport. This may be, as she explains it, the result of a sense of apathy among the74tenants who are burnt out with their busy lives. Others have found it difficult to findwomen who they trust to look after their children. This is expressed in the followingquotation:I don’t trust any-one. There is one woman I leave my son with. Thereare others that I have seen drink or smoke, or do both, or let their kidsrun wild. There is one woman I like but her husband is abusive. Thereis no one that I feel really comfortable with.For many women who do not have an informal network established forchildcare the alternative is licensed facilities. In most of the neighborhoods in whichENF communities reside there are such facilities. Ten of the women responded“yes” to the question in the survey regarding licensed facilities in their neighborhood;only two responded “no”; and two had no response. While these facilities do exist formany women they are not considered a viable option for most because of the costfactor involved.The issue of childcare is perhaps the second most important concern tomothers, after housing. Without satisfactory options available many women areunable to satisfy higher order needs, including education. Although there remainsmany difficulties with the provision of childcare for single mothers living in ENF, asno women in the survey indicated that their childcare needs overall were“completely” met, and four felt they were met “not very well”; and one respondedthey were “not met at all”; (two had no response); a majority (9) did respond thattheir childcare needs were being met “reasonably well”. For some mothers it is attimes difficult to establish a convenient exchange in childcare that they arecomfortable with, but the likelihood is increased in a community of others who areat similar stages in the life cycle.When asked what could or should be done to improve childcare needs, on siteday care was suggested by some of the mothers as the ultimate solution to thechildcare dilemma. Such childcare would need to cover a wide variety of ages, andrequire the space to do so. From a single mother’s perspective this service is critical75to improving their lives and the lives of their children. Many feel on-site childcarewould improve the whole concept of ENF. The problem of equality for women ingeneral, and single mothers in particular, according to one woman interviewed, isunequal access to opportunities and resources. Establishing childcare services onsite provides women with opportunity of access to such things as further educationand employment. Included in this is the need to provide equal opportunity of accessfor the children to such things as computers. SafetyCreating safe environments to live in can be a major challenge in big citiessuch as Vancouver and is a concern of many people, particularly women, who aremost often the target of violence. The survey indicated the women felt an overallfeeling of safety in their housing environment with three feeling “completely safe”;thirteen responding that they felt “reasonably safe”; and no responses to thecategories “not very safe” and “not safe at all”. However, when asked aboutwhether they felt safe in their surrounding neighborhood only seven respondedfeeling “reasonably safe”; eight felt “not very safe” and one felt she was “not safe atall”. It would seem that while the ENF buildings are designed with safetyconsiderations in mind, the neighborhoods in which they are located are not alwaysthe safest in terms of crime. Corroborating evidence for this is revealed in theinterviews through such comments as this:Within the housing community it is fairly safe, but anything beyond itis not. We are talking about building a higher fence and better lightingbecause the area is increasingly more violent. There have been severalrobberies and that sort of thing.Other women feel that these safety issues are not just specific to certainareas of the city; that all communities have experienced crime, and that womentend not to feel safe anywhere.Safety is viewed as an important issue in ENE, and there have beenincidences where this safety has been a concern among tenants because of such76things as insecure locks on doors and gates. However, as a result of heightenedawareness, some of these problems have been rectified as they arose, resulting inbetter locks, lighting and security systems in some buildings, according to one activetenant. There is a growing cognizance among the tenants that communityinvolvement is essential to combat unsafe environments. This acknowledgement isexpressed in the quote below:I think people have to start getting involved in their own communities;once you secure your own housing you start to get involved in yourcommunity and issues in your community at large. If people talk theyhave a sense of what actually is there. If people are just sitting behindtheir closed doors and being worried, it is not a very healthy situation.But if people talk, in their own community, they can make changesand not be misinformed. I really believe people have to get out and getinvolved in meetings in their neighborhoods, area councils or whatever.According to the women interviewed this awareness for the need for improvedsafety has made tenants more attentive to their neighbors as well as spurred theformation of organized block watches. PrivacyThere are two facets of privacy with regards to social housing-one being apersonal sense of privacy in relation to neighbors, the other viewing privacy “.. .inthe sense of an environment that does not stigmatize the household” (Klodawskyand Spector,1991). The latter aspect of privacy is important so that the tenants ofthe social housing units feel a sense of “normalcy”, that they fit in the surroundingneighborhood.The results of the survey indicated that most of the tenants felt that theirhousing offered them a satisfactory level of privacy in relation to their neighbors.Two of the tenants responded that their housing offered them “complete privacy”;nine tenants felt that they had “reasonable privacy”; and only five indicated theyhad “very little privacy” ; and no one responded to the category of “no privacy atall”. When asked to respond to the question of whether there was a balance between77privacy and community in their complex one woman felt there was a “completebalance”; ten that there was a “reasonable balance”; five felt that there was “notreally” a balance; and no one indicated “not at all” a balance. This balance betweenprivacy and community can be difficult to achieve as expressed in the words of onerespondent:You have to work hard at finding a balance between privacy andcommunity. You have to know when to shut the door; you wouldn’t getthrough dinner or through putting the kids to bed. I don’t think thatthis housing would work for everyone. I think it takes a certain type ofperson to learn how to do that, how to really care for a person, but notget really involved. You could get involved in everyone’s problems if youallowed yourself to do that. You could parent every child and everyonehas different ways of parenting. .. .There is a danger of some peoplewanting to step over boundaries. Because you parent differently thansomeone else you may want to tell them that you don’t like what theyare doing so you have to be really careful.From the interviews conducted privacy appeared to be a greater issue forthose tenants who live in the older ENF buildings than in the newer communitiesthat had more tenant input when being designed. Some of the more negativecomments are made by tenants living in some of the original communities, such asBeatrice Terrace, which was the second building built. One tenant in this buildingremarked on the issue of privacy in the following interview excerpt:What privacy?! One of the things that happens when they buildaffordable housing is that they do not soundproof the buildings verywell. So whether you are a person that is noisy or want to know anyone’s business you can’t help but know other people’s business; youcan’t help it living in these buildings.Another woman made similar comments on the thin walls and consequent noiseproofing problems resulting from cost cutting by the contractor.As some of the women explained, limited private space outside the individualunits is also a factor of budgetary constraints in some of the earlier buildings. Thedesign has not permitted adequate private space outside the doors of the individualunits, creating an imbalance between public and private space. Even with patiospace outside the individual units the design is such that the rest of the community78feels free to cross over this threshold since there is no clear delineation of privatespace; as soon as you are outside you are part of the community. One of thetenants feels that the design actually pulls you into the private area and thereneeds to be landscaping to create a separation in space. More attention to thisfeature was given in later buildings with many of the housing units featuringenclosed patio areas (Figure 3).Figure 3The second aspect of privacy relates to the stigmatization that can occurwhile living in non-profit housing. “Fitting in” to a neighborhood is important forchildren as well as adults. When asked in the survey whether the respondents feltthat their housing was looked down upon by others because it was non-profit, theresults were divided on this issue as three answered “not at all”; four replied “notreally”; six felt that their housing was looked down upon by others “somewhat”; andone felt it was “completely” looked down upon; and two did not respond. An79explanation for this divergence may be found in the interviews. The women who saidthey felt stigmatized because they lived in social housing felt that it was not thehousing itself, but the stigma attached to being a low-income family. While they feltthey fit in within their local community, it was beyond this milieu that they feltlooked down upon by others. For example, one mother who worked in a corporationfelt the stark contrasts between this corporate world and her home, down in“ghetto-land” (as she referred to it), to be very stigmatizing. As well another said: “Idefinitely do feel stigmatized by other people, especially by people further afield, likethe people at my son’s preschool.”For other women, the negative perception of ENF as subsidized housing wasnot an issue because the neighborhoods in which they are located have a variety oflow income housing. This was remarked on by one tenant in the following passage:In this neighborhood anything goes. In fact, the family home of 30years ago no longer exists in this neighborhood, but in otherneighborhoods there is definitely a stigma attached to living in socialhousing. I went to public hearings in North Vancouver and that was areal eye-opener. I was raised there and used to own a home there and Ihad to go and speak on behalf of the Society and how because we werepoor didn’t mean our values changed or that our ways of raisingchildren had changed. Oh yes, there is a big stigma in someneighborhoods, but not in this one. That is actually one of the reasons Istayed here. I had considered moving to a safer neighborhood, likeNorth Vancouver but I was not prepared to deal with the stigma. Thatis one of the things that I don’t think my children realized untilrecently- that we lived in subsidized housing. I mentioned the wordsubsidized the other day and they didn’t understand what that was.Now there are labels people can put on those kinds of labels ... thoseword can really hurt kids.Furthermore, many feel that most people wouldn’t know that ENF buildingare subsidized as not only do they blend well with the neighborhood, but often theyare better designed (Figure 4).80This is indicated in the following quote:A lot of people think that these are condos above the bank. I have hada few people stop me when they saw me going into the building, andthey have asked: ‘how do you get into these?’ and I say: ‘you go on alist.’ They say: ‘aren’t these condominiums?’ Opportunities for Sharing and SupportConventional housing is designed to facilitate individually oriented lifestyles,not community oriented ones. However, many single-parents are seeking the latter,particularly if they don’t have strong family support, and are hopeful that housinglike ENF will provide them with not only adequate, affordable housing, but asupportive community of others with which to share mutual concerns. The resultsfrom the survey on this issue indicate that all of the women felt their housingenvironment provided some degree of community with three indicating they felt aFigure 481“complete” sense of community; nine felt “somewhat” a sense of community; fourindicated they felt “very little” community; and no one responded to “not at all”.Similar responses were found when the women were asked how supportive theircommunity was of them and their family. Three replied that their community was“completely supportive”; nine that their community was “reasonably supportive”;three responded their community was”not very supportive”; and no one respondedto “not supportive”; and one did not indicate a response.The participation in various aspects of their housing such as committeesstrengthens the sense of community and builds friendships, according to some of thetenants. This sense of community building is epitomized in this quote:There is definitely a strong sense of community here. People come tomeetings, feel committed to housing. You get close to a few people. Youcan cry on their shoulders and they can cry on yours. If you run out ofonions you know you can go to them. There is an understanding there.This is really important.The sharing of responsibilities and the extension of emotional support to others hasresulted in the development of lifetime friendships for some of the tenants. Thisestablished community of friends has strengthened the community overall.While this strong sense of community was not the experience of everywoman, all the women interviewed agreed that it was an important aspect to theirhousing. There were various reasons that a feeling of community did not develop forsome women. For some this has not developed in their communities to the degreethey would like because many people feel that their housing is temporary; once theycan afford to they will move on. One woman expresses her viewpoint on this issue:A sense of community is really important. It is what I am looking for.That is why I have applied to co-ops, from what I have heard there ismore of a sense of community involvement. I would move if I got into aco-op. I think if there was a ceiling it would be better; most people sayas soon as I can afford to I’ll be moving on. People aren’t encouraged toput their stakes here. It is something that has to grow. Maybe timewill help, I think that carrying on organizing events for the majorholidays, and little things like landscaping, making the place feel moreattractive, gives people a sense of community.82For others it is the establishment of cliques, the splintering of the communityinto groups which prevents it from developing as a connected whole. Feeling like anoutsider to the core group was reported by a couple of women which is reflected inthe following quote:There is a clique of women that hang around and I am sure for themthey do feel there is a sense of support. There are four or five of themthat always do things together, have BBQs and stuff like that. It is notfor every-one. I think that is just natural. There is always a core groupand those who keep to themselves. There is some support but not alot.A sense of community is difficult to create in most circumstances, and ENFis not different in this respect. Attempts to aid this development have been madethrough the physical provision of common spaces. Each ENF building has acommon room for which a variety of activities are conducted- including parties,potluck dinners, craft clubs, meetings, socializing with the neighbors, and so on(Figure 5).While most of the women interviewed agreed that a common room wasimportant, fewer felt that this room actually helped to facilitate a sense ofcommunity. For some women this was due to the inadequacies of the space in someof the communities. A couple of women discussed the ways in which they felt thespace was inadequate for their community as well as suggestions forimprovements:It is a space to use; it doesn’t really welcome people; it is just an emptyspace. We use it for meetings. I have used it for my son’s Birthdayparty. It could be made more attractive and welcoming.The common space doesn’t really facilitate community. We havecomplained about that. It is really small and cold. We have beentalking about getting some furniture for it. We are the poor sister ofENF! The federal government program is at Alma Blackwell- theyhave a lovely common room. Ours is an after-thought. It is nice forchildren’s parties and that kind of thing. ... It is important to have agood common area. It is used for meetings and Birthday parties, but itisn’t a nice space. In the summer it works very well because we have83the terrace and people sit at the tables with umbrellas and you leavethe door open and the kids run back and forth and the food is in there.That works well in the summer, but in the winter it is awful. Design FeaturesThe designs of most conventional housing, particularly apartment complexesare generally not conducive to parenting. Since single mothers were instrumental inthe planning of ENF many of these elements were important considerations in thedesign of the buildings. Evidently, this attention to design has indeed eased women ofthe burden of household maintenance as the majority of women respondedFigure 584positively in the survey to this issue- three mothers found that their housing was“very easy” to maintain; ten felt that it was “reasonably easy”; and only one feltthat it was “not very easy”; and two responded that it was “not easy at all”.The interviews concur with these results: while there were some minorcomplaints about such things as faulty cupboards, most felt that their suite wasfairly easy to maintain, particularly in comparison to what they had lived inpreviously. However, there were complaints the first year that B.C. housing beganto administer housing for ENF. According to a well-informed tenant, because theydid not have a relationship with ENF there was no tenant input into the design;consequently, there were design elements that simply were not suitable for families.For instance, rug was installed in most of the units including the kitchen and eatingarea, which is difficult to maintain. Since most of the living space is utilized, it wassuggested that linoleum would have been a better alternative in the kitchen andeating areas, limiting rug to the bedrooms, living rooms and hall-ways.Generally, the comments made in the interviews in regard to maintenancewere positive as reflected in the following interview excerpts:My apartment is very low maintenance in comparison to some of theplaces I have lived in. It is new, it works.Everything is easier, there is a lot more space, I’m used to living in abasement suite that was the size of my downstairs alone.Nice and spacious apartment. I’ve had to change the fuses, etc. but itis not a major expense. If anything major happens, you don’t have topay for it; the little things are all you have to replace.Aside from maintenance, other design elements which improved the livingenvironment of the single parent families were referred to in the interviews. Some ofthese elements include an abundance of light from the many windows (Figure 6), theseparation of the bedrooms from the rest of the living space, play space that can besurveffled from the housing unit, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems.85These considerations were found to be lacking in most previous housing,particularly in basement suites, and thus were especially appreciated. Thesesentiments are expressed in the words of three of the women interviewed:This suite is a godsend. I am so happy I got this one. It has thebedrooms above the living room so I can have some breathing spaceand my children can play in their rooms especially now that they areolder. It is so important for single parents to have that break in space.We also have a common area that is not that great, but on nice daysthe kids can sit outside, talk with friends or play.I am glad there is a sprinkler system, I’m glad there is a washer anddryer hook-up, and heating monitors in each room. I like the fact I canwatch him from the playground. It is a little small, but nice. It is reallysoundproof from the neighbors. They did an excellent job of that.It has a lot of light. Thanks to Leslie, Mia and every-one. They had tofight for the windows; you have to fight for light because windows tendto cost a lot of money and they tend not to want to do that. They madesure we had lots of outlets and lights. I think I have four lights in mykitchen plus a window. That is really important for single parents.There are studies on that for depression. It has all sorts of fire alarmsand sprinkler systems so that I feel secure if I wasn’t here and mychildren were alone they are not going to die in a fire. With oldapartments you don’t get that. Overall Satisfaction with HousingMany elements play a role in determining the level of satisfaction the singlemothers found in their housing including: availability, accessibility, security oftenure, facilities for children, safety, privacy, sharing and support, and designfeatures, all of which were examined above. The women who participated in thesurvey and interviews expressed a myriad of feelings regarding these elements.However, overall the majority of the women expressed a fairly high level ofsatisfaction with their housing. This is indicated in the results of the survey asseven women responded that overall their housing meets their needs and the needsof their family “very well”; eight felt that their needs were met “reasonably well”;only one respondent replied their needs were met “not very well”; and there were noresponses to “not well at all”.86Figure 6In the interviews when the respondents were asked what they liked the mostabout living in ENF a number of different aspects were indicated includingaffordability and security, sense of community, empowerment, location,independence, privacy, accessibility, and bright apartments.Affordability, and the subsequent security that that provides, was the mostfrequently mentioned aspect by five of the seven women. The following remarks aretypical:I really like my apartment. I like the security. I like the stability. I likethe fact that my children know their neighbors. They are not movedevery year, or twice a year for reasons that happen when you arelooking for places to live that you can afford.Once the stress of living in insecure housing was removed many of the singlemothers began to gain control over their lives, develop community ties and becomeempowered to do things that they would not have previously considered. This sense87of community and subsequent empowerment is expressed in the following threequotations:I really like this community; it is so healthy and so lovely; the peopleare just wonderful. It is really nice to step out the door and be greetedor greet people that you feel really close to. You really thrive onsuccess stories, when someone gets a job and so on.This housing changed my life.. .it has been a moving experience.. .it isnot just a society, when you become involved you develop a socialbase, it becomes like a family, you can’t leave it.. .it has empoweredme, made me believe in myself, that I could do anything I wanted.I have only been here for a year but I have already noticed a change inmy attitude. I feel more confident now to go beyond the homeenvironment and seek full time employment. I have had more time tothink and plan towards self-sufficiency. I use to worry about the kidshome alone after school and other things relating to housing. I now feelmore relaxed in these regards. The kids are never totally alone becausethere is always someone around to watch out for them. Our buildingsare all safe in regards to fire alarms, etc. These matters can bringgreat concern and burden to the work place and make it impossible todo a good job and be a good parent.Location was another aspect mentioned by three of the seven women as oneof the elements they most liked about their housing. The accessibility to serviceswas noted by two of these women who live in East Vancouver, while the otherwoman, who lives in Natalia Terrace in the Fraserlands appreciated the tranquilsurroundings ofher housing: “I like the quiet. I like the trees. I like the sunrise in themorning, I like the moonlight coming through my window at night.”In the interviews the women also discussed the least desirable aspects oftheir housing. Two respondents referred to inaccessible locations, two commentedon disrespectful guests, other singular responses were in regards to questions ofwhether their housing is a safety net or a trap, and the lack of ceiling on rents and ofamenities within the housing units. The two women who considered their housing tobe in an inaccessible location lived in Natalia Terrace in the Fraserlands. One ofthese two women felt that services were not accessible, and the publictransportation system was not adequate to their housing. The other woman made88similar comments but also felt a great sense of ambivalence toward the location ofher housing- on the one hand she describes her enjoyment of the tranquilsurrounding of her housing, and on the other hand the inaccessibility of services towhere she lives:The location is really a double bind. I really like to leave downtown andcome here where it is really peaceful, but the services are soinaccessible in the area- to doctors, stores... My welfare office is onGrandview Highway. I am constantly going to the doctor and for awhile a couple of times a week I went to Physiotherapy, and all thisstuff is down there [downtown].Ambivalence is also expressed by one woman toward her housing in generalas she deliberates over whether her housing represents a safety net or a trap. Sheconcludes that her housing has given her the freedom to make choices in her lifethat she might not otherwise be able to make:I often say this housing is my safety net, but also my trap. I am notsure if I had to really hustle, if rents were increasing and everythingwere increasing and if I were to keep hustling having two jobs... I don’tknow if I would have been better off, but maybe I would have takenmore chances. But then, I have to remind myself I don’t have that kindof energy to keep going like that, and I really wonder what would havebecome of me if I wouldn’t have had this kind of housing... I sometimeswonder because I have been here for five years, the longest I havebeen anywhere. I do wonder sometimes if I am getting too comfortable.But I also really love having that, because I am getting older; raising ateenager is a bit harder emotionally, and looking back at all theemotional stuff I had to go through, I have had time to heal. I thinkthat is a really big one for women; they don’t allow themselves time togrieve or the time to get better so when you live in this kind of housingyou can do that. I probably would have kept going, kept up a goodfront, but eventually I would have got really sick. It has made me feelso secure. I question being comfortable. I have never beencomfortable, never been in one place long enough. I worry that this ismy trap as well as my safety net, but it does give me choices. I havetime to decide is that person that wants to whisk me away the one Iwant to be with? Do I have to do that? -No I don’t! You can just get fedup and take whatever comes along and then you start all over again. Iwould find it hard to start all over again. I am so thankful for this time.While there are many perspectives and feelings on different aspects ofhousing with ENF, most women feel, as the survey indicated, that their housingmeets their needs as single parents reasonably well to very well. As a dynamic,89ever-changing Society, ENF is experiencing the growing pains inherent in any grassroots community; however, the development of each community lends lessons tofuture communities. This is candidly articulated by one tenant in the survey:I feel privileged to be part of ENF housing. It is unfortunate that notall tenants do. There are those who abuse the situation, and it isdifficult to get a perfect balance in a community-like setting whereevery individual supports, co-operates, and devotes an equal amount oftime. I believe there are still many inner problems to be worked out,but that ENF has done very well in supplying an environment to meetthe needs of most individuals. It is then up to the tenants to make themost of the best thing to happen to them.4.4.4 Indirect Benefits for Single ParentsWhile the prime motivation for most single mothers when looking for housingis that it is affordable and adequate (in terms of the elements discussed in theprevious section) for raising their families, many indirect benefits have also beenfound to occur in alternative housing like ENF. The findings of the survey andinterviews indicate that the ancillary benefits of living in this type of housing areskill development, empowerment, improvements in mental and physical health, andsubsequent improvements in family relationships.Firstly, skill development was rewarded, in some instances, to tenants whoparticipated in their housing with ENF. Of the sixteen women who responded to thesurvey nine were involved in committees in their communities, and of these ninewomen, six felt that through this involvement they learned new skills. For thosewomen who were involved at both the community level and the Society level skilldevelopment was proportionally higher: of five such women, four felt that throughthis involvement they learned new skills.The results of the interviews revealed even higher participation rates in thefunctioning of their housing and subsequent skill development, with five of the sevenwomen reporting involvement on some level and all five felt that this involvementtaught them new skills. The set of skills that all the women cited as having learned90through involvement in their housing were interpersonal skills. These skills werefound to be beneficial in improving working relationships as well as their personalrelationships. The women learned, among other things, how to communicate betterand be more diplomatic with others. One woman describes her participation andresultant skills:I definitely learned new skills. In the relationship of communicatingwith people you can’t help either getting better at it or it is notsuitable. I think ifyou really cherish the relationship with other peopleyou will get better at communicating with them. Definitely mycommunication skills are a lot better, and also chairing meetings. I gotinvolved in the Board and I was the secretary treasurer, and then I gotinvolved with Leslie and property development, that was reallyinteresting; it taught me a lot because if you understand how thebuildings get built you really appreciate them a lot better. I had tospeak at the public hearings; I learned some public speaking skills. Thedemocracy of conducting myself at meetings, being more diplomatic...Working with people that are professionals and yet what you have tosay is really important... You are actually the employers of thesepeople and that was really interesting to be working with architects,developers and people like that. ENF is the employer of those peopleand that was a nice feeling from a tenants point of view, to get involvedon that level.While involvement in their housing taught many of the women skills it alsoencouraged and enabled some to apply these new skills to other aspects of their lifesuch as finding employment. Of the sixteen women surveyed, nine participated inthe operation of their housing at the level of the community, and of these nine, fivefelt that the resultant skills enabled them to do other things. Additionally, of the fivewomen involved both at the community and the Society level, four felt similarly,that the skills they learned encouraged and enabled them to do other things. In theinterviews, two of the women commented on the benefit of learning these skills forfuture employment and one of the women interviewed felt that the skills she learneddirectly contributed to attaining a new job.Secondly, empowerment, which is created as women go from a cycle ofdependency to one of independence, “from personal crisis to public involvement andleadership” (Gerritsma, M. 1984, quoted in Simon, 1986:12) was also discovered to91be an indirect benefit to living in ENF housing. The results of the survey indicatedthat most of the women, as a result of living in ENF, did become empowered tosome degree to make changes in their life, to do things that they may not haveconsidered previously: three of the respondents felt “completely empowered”; fivewere “moderately empowered”; five felt “a little empowered”; and only three felt thatthey were “not at all empowered”.The results of the survey concurred with the findings in the interviews: mostof the women interviewed (six of the seven) felt that living in ENF had empoweredthem to make changes in their life. Two of the women discussed how thisempowerment led to improvements in their lives, including going back to school:Yes in some ways I feel empowered. I am thinking about going back toschool and I know that I would have never ever been able to do thatbefore. But now I might be able to with a student loan. It has alsogiven me time to get to know myself which I don’t think I would havebeen able to do, and to get to know my children.Yes I do feel empowered to make changes. I am in a radio play now. Istarted singing more. I wouldn’t have done that before. I was alwayssick and depressed. It makes a big difference when you know you havea home to come home to. I was singing before, but I’m getting a lotbetter because before I just had too many problems. I also want to goback to school, I picked up some forms. I can’t work now, but it is only30% of my income so I don’t have to worry about starving. I havelooked into counselling and computers. Part of it is having decenthousing, you don’t have to worry about being sick, things leaking andbreaking. In our basement suite the pipes broke so many times, theplace got flooded; it was horrible. The kids never wanted to be home. Itwas an uncomfortable place to be. I was sick a lot with allergies, Ididn’t sleep. The rugs were old, full of dust mites.. .it was cold, reallycold, dangerously cold; you could get hypothermia.Another woman, Susan (pseudonym), shares her inspiring story of how livingin ENF has empowered and completely changed her life. Empowerment for herstems from the stability and control of her housing, as well as from the synergycreated by the founding members of ENF and other strong women involved. Susanwas a struggling mother trying to find affordable housing, when by chance she foundout about ENF. She waited on a list for two years before her name came up and she92was able to move from the suburbs to ENF. The accomplishments and energy ofthe founding members of ENF was very heartening to her and she quickly becameinvolved as one of the first tenant directors of her building. Susan did not know muchabout what was going on in the Society, but she persevered and kept on going to themeetings. She then volunteered to work in the office as she wanted to learn how touse the computer, and this opened the door for her career as a legal secretary.Susan doesn’t believe this would have happened if she would have stayed in herhousing in the suburbs. She believes ENF has changed her life; it was instrumentalin getting her back into the work force and raising her self-esteem so she now feelsshe can master any challenge. It has given her more control in her life because inthe society her vote counts. She has direct input in such things as design, and heropinion and that of other tenants are vital-it allows change to happen.Furthermore, Susan feels living in ENF has a positive affect on children. Herson has gained a healthy perspective of women as he observes women around himtaking charge of their lives. Girls, as well, are affected positively as their role modelsare women who are self-assured, conducting business in a confident manner, whichall the children model as they “play meetings”, rather than “play house”. She feelsthat having a voice that is listened to and respected is something that many of thewomen that come to ENF may not have experienced before and this can be a veryempowering to their lives.The provision of a stable living environment in itself creates a sense ofempowerment, according to another tenant, in that it offers women choices theymay not have had previously:One thing that it has made me realize is I never have to be in theposition where I would be kicked out of my own home, if I was livingwith someone and it didn’t work out, or if they were abusive.. .1 thinkthat is empowering for women, instead of feeling that she always hasto live with someone because she can’t afford to live on her own or sheends up being the one on the street because the relationship isn’tworking. I think a lot of women stay in something bad because theycan’t afford to get out. I think this place gives you a choice.93Thirdly, improvements in mental and physical health as a result of moving toENF was found by most of the women interviewed; and as health improved so didtheir relationships with their children. When living in previous housing six of theseven women interviewed reported some problems with physical and/or mentalhealth. Some women linked their physical problems to the unhealthy livingenvironments, frequently basement suites that were damp, cold, and moldy.Physical and/or mental difficulties also arose from stress due to such things asfinancial uncertainties and insecure tenure.Since moving to ENF these six women experienced improvements in theirphysical and/or mental health. This convalescence is reflected in the following twoquotations:I think my physical health has improved. I love the fact that it is light.It is so depressing living in a basement suite. Physical and mentalhealth has definitely improved. I realize how lucky I am to have gotinto this place. There are still women out there struggling with reallyhigh rates [rents] and insecurity.I feel better physically; the mold really got to me. I have a disability soI am not well half of the time, but I am not as ill as I was before, and Ialso don’t have the skin itch. Health-wise it has been better for me.A living environment that is uncertain can cause immense stress and ill-health affects as well as unforeseeable family breakdowns. One woman describeswhat she endured trying to find housing before moving to ENF:There is a mentality that happens; you think in a certain way whenyou are constantly in crisis; your survival mechanism kicks in and youare constantly in panic. You can’t live like that. It is terrible to put onyour children when you never know where you are going to live. It islike shock; it is like being in a war; you have those same kind offeelings. You walk around in a state of shock, to say the least.The lack of available affordable housing for this family led to homelessnessfor a period of eight months, which had a devastating impact on the family, forcing itto spit in two. Fortunately, the family was able to find housing in ENF which hasenabled them to stabilize. The mother reports on the impact of homelessness on her94family as well as how the quality of her children’s lives have improved since theymoved to ENF:Yes, [the lives of my children have changed] dramatically. Things arenot the way they were. After being homeless for eight months, italmost destroyed our family. Nothing will be the same after living likethat. This happened three years ago. They are stabilized; they have aplace to stay. They are not all here-only two of them. They are doingwell in school. One of them is on the honor roll. None of them were doingas well as they are now.Another woman discusses the importance of stable housing on her health andhow this has allowed her time and strength to be a good parent to her children. Sherecognizes the implications this has on the healthy development of her children andis grateful she has found housing that has allowed her this time:I think I have had time to get well, whereas I am not sure otherwise.. .1had a horrendous divorce and going through my own process and notable to be there for my kids at that time. It has given me time for mykids, to be there for them, that has been really important, otherwise, Iam not sure how things would have gone. Raising a teenager is difficultanyway, but I think we developed a really good foundation in the lastyears. I can see that he is a great human being and I am really proudof him but we have had to work at that. If I wasn’t able to cope withthat, if I was really tired, coming in every night, dealing with the stressof a former husband and working I don’t think I would have coped verywell, and he wouldn’t have consequently either... I think it is really goodfor them to have stability, to be in one place, it is so important forchildren. They get very insecure if they are moved around a lot.The devastating consequences to a family as a result of unstable housing cansometimes cause irreparable damage in the lives of children. The urgency of findinghousing is well-known to one mother who suffered from the break-up of her familyas a result of her inability to find affordable housing for her family. She recounts herexperience in the passage below:If the housing would have been available when I asked for it my familywould have been together and not split up in two. When I really neededit, it wasn’t there and things got to a critical point; it was horrible. Thekids went through hell. No kid should have to be homeless. No kidshould have to not know whether they are going to be living in a hotelroom, in a shelter, or how long they are going to stay at a friend’s place,or whatever; no child should have to go through that. That kind of stuffdestroys families, it creates problems that should never have existed95in the first place. Decent housing is important, especially for kids, itshouldnt matter how much money you make either.Many problems are created when adequate housing is not found for thesefamilies- from dysfunctional relationships with stressed and overburdened mothersto the break up of families due to complete homelessness. Conversely, healthydevelopment of children can be achieved with the provision of stable housing as wellas exposure to positive influences which cooperative communities like ENFfacilitate. One mother discusses the valuable lessons in life that her son is learningliving in ENF that will carry him as an adult. Through his mother’s and hisparticipation in their housing community he has learned cooperation- that theredoesn’t have to be a boss; there doesn’t have to be a winner; respect for others,teamwork, friendships, communication, and so on. As well he has gained a healthyrespect for women as he sees his mother and other women competently managingthe business of ENF.965.0 CONCLUSIONThis thesis was motivated both by a concern for the difficult housingcircumstances in which an increasing number of female-led families are found, aswell as by a desire to investigate the potential to change these circumstances.While much of the current literature portrays women as housing victims, there arefewer studies that focus on the victories women have had in the housing arena andthe possibilities for this housing to make significant, positive changes in their lives.While acknowledging the current housing realities, this thesis was inspired byexamples such as Entres Nous Femmes, which demonstrated how these realitiescan be changed when women become the developers and managers of their ownhousing. This research was thus dedicated to exploring how this alternative housingmeets the needs of single mothers and what further benefit it has to their lives.5.1 Summary of Research FindingsThe findings of this thesis substantiate many of the conclusions reached byother researchers. However, while other studies have focused on women in generalin cooperative housing (Wekerle, 1988; and Farge, 1986), or various types ofhousing for single parents (for example: Klodawsky, et al., 1985; Jordan, 1981), thisstudy provides a local example with a specific focus on single mothers living in anon-profit housing society. Furthermore, the qualitative design contributes to theliterature by elaborating on other studies and providing a richness of detail throughthe voices of the women who live in this housing. This insight also helped to advancesome additional findings; all ofwhich are discussed in this section.First, difficulties finding adequate and affordable housing in the market wasexperienced by the women interviewed, which concurred with the studies discussedin the literature review; the most salient of these difficulties being: affordability(Engeland, 1991); discrimination (Gurstein and Hood, 1975; Anderson-Kleif, 1981;Wekerle, 1988); privacy (Anderson-Kleif,1981); lack of space for children97(Klodawsky and Spector,1988); insecure tenure (Klodawsky, et al., 1985); andmaintenance (Anderson-Kleif, 1981; Klodawsky, et al., 1985). Additional concernshad by the women interviewed which were not focused on in previous studiesinvolved safety and unhealthy living environments. All of these difficulties werefound in this case study to have a direct relationship to mental and physical illness,family difficulties and break-ups, and homelessness, which permeated the lives ofthese families, affecting self-esteem and personal sense of power.Second, the findings of this research suggest there are alternative housingoptions that provide affordable, adequate housing in a supportive environment,corroborating with research done by others including: Wekerle, 1988; andKlodawsky, et al., 1985. The study of Entres Nous Femmes concluded that onceestablished in this housing many of the previous housing difficulties dissipated, asthe needs of the families were met very well to reasonably well in terms ofaffordability, accessibility, security of tenure, appropriate facilities for children,privacy, opportunities for sharing and support, and design features such asmaintenance.Furthermore, this research discovered housing became a foundation fromwhich the women could move beyond the struggle for stable shelter to greaterconcerns. With the satisfaction of these basic needs the women experiencedsignificant improvements in their mental and physical health, to the betterment oftheir family relationships. A stable home was found to afford mothers time withtheir children, which contributed to the children’s healthy development includingimprovements in their school performance. The children further benefited bypositive role models which are facilitated by the cooperative environment of ENF.Having a direct input into decision-making in their housing communityempowered many of the women, allowing them to focus outward, beyond theirpersonal crisis. This empowerment helped them to make positive changes in theirlives such as going back to school. Through participation in their housing98community they a:lso learned new skills, concurring again with researchers Wekerleand Novac, (1989); and Simon, (1986). Some of the skills learned wereinterpersonal, communication, public speaking, and business skills. These skillsimproved personal relationships and gave the women the self-esteem needed toseek, and, in some cases, find employment. As such, the research found ENF to besuccessful overall in meeting the intent outlined in their mission statement:Our primary intent is to provide and manage safe and affordablehousing communities for female led single parent families. Inrecognizing the realities and experiences of female single parents,E.N.F. endeavors to promote its philosophy of creating anenvironment of opportunity and empowerment. In meeting these goalsthe Society acknowledges that a healthy community is one that iscomprised of a cross section of family styles (ENF tenant introductionbooklet).There are challenges that ENF communities face yet, including issues ofsafety and difficulties developing a sense of community. However, because thesuccess of this Society is built on the participation of the users of this housing,tenants playing an active role in their community will ensure these needs are metand personal development is facilitated. The onus is on the individual to take aproactive role in pursuing the opportunities that are presented to them, and thefindings of this research show that many women have done this.While there are challenges for Entres Nous Femmes within the communities,the greatest of these that they and other non-profit organizations face is one ofscarce funding. The constraints of funding creates a number of limitations, thatwere discussed by the women, the first being the number of families that can beserved, as this housing is reserved for only the neediest of households. The demandfor this type of housing was evident by the waiting list, which averages one year andnine months, leaving many families without affordable and adequate housing.Furthermore, because the housing is reserved for only those in core housing need,there is no income mix which, according to some of the women interviewed, is a99stumbling block to the creation of a strong community. Many of the tenants, theyexplained, have no stake in the community, they feel that their housing istemporary; once they begin to earn an adequate income they will be moving on.Since there are no ceilings on the rents it is also difficult for many of the women whoare committed to their community, as it becomes financially unreasonable toremain once a certain income is achieved and rent reaches or surpasses marketrent; it may even be a disincentive to raise their income level.Second, the lack of funding affects the provision of such services as childcare.An increase in funding flexibility for these facilities would give women equal accessof opportunity, enabling them to find employment or go back to school; it would alsocreate economic development on site.Third, the women felt that scarce resources placed limitations on thedevelopment of private and communal space. Both types of space are regarded asessential in order for a strong community to evolve with an appropriate balancebetween community and privacy. Communal space, in the form of a common room,in particular, while considered an important element, was not found to be overlyhelpful in facilitating a sense of community due to the inadequacies of space.Fourth, these financial constraints coupled with the high land costs inVancouver, demand that most social housing be built on somewhat marginal sites.In the case of Entres Nous Femmes, most of the buildings are in areas which manyof the mothers had concerns about safety due to the high incidences of crime.Fortunately, the concerns about safety are somewhat combated by the heightenedawareness and precautions taken by the housing communities.Finally, mothers voiced their concern over the lack of facilities in theirhousing communities for their teenagers. Many of the mothers felt that theteenagers were overlooked; once their children had reached ten years of age thefacilities were inadequate to keep their children engaged at home.1005.2 Implications for PolicyThe potential for this housing to improve the lives of individual families wasfound to be significant in this thesis. If one of the goals of planning is to createhealthy communities, such potential deserves greater study and consideration.However, currently this housing is not a panacea due to financial constraints thatlimit availability and affect design and amenity possibilities, as discussed above.There are no easy solutions to these housing challenges; however, greatercommitment to social housing should be seen as a priority in Canada’s housingpolicy. In Canada there has always been financial assistance for housing and thishas resulted in good housing for most Canadians. However, this assistance has notalways reached the low-income populations who ‘fall through the cracks’, who are“...among a substantial minority---about 20 to 30 percent of households, dependingon the definition used. ..“(Hulchanski, 1988a:46). As Young (1987:35) explains:Over the years various programs such as the Canadian HomeOwnership program, the Multiple Unit Residential Building program,the Assisted Rental program and the Canada Rental Supply Planhave helped produce housing at the high end of the market, out ofreach of low-income Canadians.Thus, the housing problem in Canada is not one of affordability, but rather ofresource allocation: “...who gets what quality and quantity of housing at whatpercentage of their income and how is this decided?” (Hulchanski, 1988a:46).Canada has the resources to accommodate every citizen--- it is political will that isneeded to ensure that these resources are distributed fairly. Political will hinges onthe priorities both citizens and politicians place on social housing. These prioritieshave been, for the most part, low:In contrast to Canada’s acceptance of strong public sectorinvolvement in health and education, neither the state nor a majorityof citizens have viewed the meeting of housing needs as a publicresponsibility (Hulchanski, 1988a:22).101If we are to fulfil our responsibility of maintaining housing as a basic humanright, it is housing for those that .need it the most that should be the goal of ourhousing policies. This will require rather than ad hoc programs that respond toimmediate macro-economic problems, a comprehensive approach that is able tomeet the needs of all Canadians. It is only then that we can conclude that ourpolicies are effective, as noted by Humphrey Carver (1948) (quoted in Hulchanski,1988:12):The ultimate objective of the national housing programme should bethe provision of a decent dwelling for every Canadian.... From this itfollows that the crucial and ultimate test of the effectiveness ofhousing policy is the condition of the worst housed families in ourcommunities.While ENF and other non-profit organizations have responded to theinadequacies of market housing, accommodating some families in need, many moreare still living in difficult circumstances. These families are among “the worsthoused families in our communities” and will continue to be so as: “A decliningprivate rental sector and a small social housing sector means few options for thegrowing number of Canadians who cannot purchase a house” (Hulchanski,1988a:22).The increasing withdrawal of federal government funding for social housingresulted in the termination of the Co-Operative Housing Program in 1992, andeffective January 1, 1994, resulted in the cancellation of new commitments forsocial housing programs, with the exception of those directed to on-reserve housing.Federal funding will continue for the operation of current social housing; short-termprograms for the elderly and victims of family violence (under “Next Step”); and thereinstatement of renovation programs that assist low-income homeowners andpeople with disabilities (under the Emergency Repair Program) (CMHC, 1994).Notwithstanding the importance of housing for those with ‘special needs’, theincreasing emphasis of government social housing policy only on this segment of thepopulation is:102• . .based on the narrow conception of what constitutes housingdisadvantage, limiting it to those whose illness or frailty prevents themgenerating sufficient income to compete in the private market(Clapman, 1990:55).This narrow definition overlooks the disadvantage groups such as single mothersface in the private housing market in Canada, further distancing policy from asocial welfare approach and the view of adequate housing as a right for all.The on-going support of home ownership in government policy was evident inthe federal government’s budget with the continuation of the First Home LoanInsurance Program (FHLI), which reduces the minimum down-paymentrequirement for federally-insured mortgages to five percent for first-time homebuyers; and the continuation of the Home Buyers Plan, which allows first-timehome buyers to withdraw up to $20,000 from their RRSPs tax-free to purchase ahome. This government support is directly linked to the power of interest groups,such as the real-estate development lobby, who are committed to building owner-occupied homes, exerting considerable influence over the way that housing policy isshaped at the expense of disadvantaged groups lobbying for housing (Harris, 1991).This has resulted in a situation where:.the past bias in favor of home-ownership has created its own inertia.Today, the majority of Canadian households own their own home. Theyconstitute a large, relatively affluent, and therefore powerful electoratethat would resist any attempt to reduce the tax subsidies that theycurrently enjoy (Ibid. :372).The cutbacks in federal funding for social housing will have significant coststo lone parents in particular and society in general. The literature review and casestudy in this thesis demonstrated both the social costs when adequate andaffordable housing is not provided and the potential benefits conferred when it isprovided. Non-profit housing offers the opportunity to alleviate many socialproblems by providing a secure foundation from which to improve mental and103physical health, learn business and interpersonal skills, and in general create stablelives and communities. This type of housing can stop the cycle of poverty frombeing passed on to children through the ensuing improvements in health and schoolperformance, potentiafly lowering the escalating school drop-out rates. The absenceof the opportunities that social housing provides places a strain on other socialagencies and . . .“makes a powerful argument for using housing as a point ofintervention in combating disadvantage, and, indeed, a range of other problemsconventiona:Ely addressed through social policy” (Clapman, et al., 1990:83).This thesis has provided evidence to support the need for the reinstatementof funding for social housing which should include a mix of income levels. Thepervasiveness of housing in people’s lives and subsequent need for this to berecognized in policy is commented on by one mother: “They can pay now or paylater, how the children grow up will affect society at large.” This is also supported bythe 1992 Provincial Commission on Housing Options which recommends that theprovincial government accord housing a higher priority because: “Whether you rentor own, a safe and affordable home is essential to our personal well-being and, inturn, to the stability and security of our neighborhoods” (Audain and Duvall,1992:14).Giving social housing a higher priority in government spending will certainlymean making difficult choices as it will impact other social programs such as healthand employment. However, the long-term benefits of this housing will lead to costsavings in the future, particularly in the areas of health and employment. Thecurrent review of all social programs in Canada must acknowledge this to ensurethat scarce resources are allocated wisely to achieve the greatest benefit.While a reordering of government spending at the federal and provincial levelsis necessary, this should not be the only avenue relied upon to fund social housing.Municipal government can also play an important role, beyond their traditionalregulatory role and that of “...facilitating and promoting unbridled private sector104investment in housing” (Hulchanski, et al., 1990:11). Indeed, with the decline infederal and provincial involvement in social housing, municipalities, althoughfinancially unequipped, have been forced to come up with innovative solutions to thehousing problems that face their communities. One such example is the AffordableHousing Statutory Reserve Fund in the Township of Richmond which requiresdevelopers of market housing to either provide affordable housing on the site theyare requesting to be rezoned, or to donate a “gift” to the Fund. Adopting bylaws likethis one should be mandatory in every municipality facing difficulties supplyingaffordable housing. It indicates to the beneficiaries of urban growth that there willbe concessions they will have to make as a routine part of doing business. Utilizingthese available powers is expeditious and without cost to the municipality. Part ofthis and any other innovations for affordable housing should include provisions forchildcare in order for women to have equal access to opportunities.However, there are barriers to achieving creative solutions for social housing,including the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome. Such attitudes need to beaddressed through a political commitment to public education to increaseawareness of the potential such housing has for communities. Another barrier is thelack of legislative authority municipalities have to support social housing; enablinglegislation must be given to local government so that they can take on a moreactive role. Giving municipalities more “teeth” to do such things as raise fundsthrough development cost charges is critical to facilitate local action. Thecontribution of innovative municipal initiatives and a prioritizing of social housing athigher levels of government, who have access to a superior tax base, are bothrequired to make an effective difference in the crisis which social housing is in today.5.3 Implications for PlannersAlthough this thesis has provided a case study of a grass-roots organizationinspired and developed by single mothers who indeed are planners of their own105communities, there may be roles professional planners can play in the future ofsocial housing, particularly given the current political climate. An advocacy rolemay be appropriate to help address single mothers’ needs which are not oftenconsidered in the current decision-making process. This role requires knowledgeableskills to determine and articulate the needs and demands of the women and anideological commitment to the group.The role of the planner must be one from below where “...planners and‘people’ play interchangeable and interactive roles so that it cannot always bedetermined who wears the hat of the planner and who does not” (Friedmann,1987:302-303). There may be some obstacles in the way of achieving meaningfulparticipation including the lack of awareness in some communities, as well as theexistence of bureaucratic structures and jargon that help to mystiVy the wholedecision-making process. The role of the planner is to remove some of theseobstacles. Forester (1989) lists some of the strategies that planners can use tofoster increased community involvement in planning, including: the creation of acommunity network of contacts; the education of groups which are uninformedabout planning issues; and the development of skills to work with groups and inconflict situations.Once the planner has mobilized and educated the group to what their role canbe, lobbying government and non-profit organizations for support is required.Planners can assist in providing the political avenues, but the women affected mustbe actively involved in the political process including the formulating of policy andprogram development. Involvement in all aspects of their housing must be retainedfrom development and design to operation and management. This aspect of housingwas found in this thesis to not only more effectively meet the needs of residents,who are the true experts, but it was also shown to improve their lives in many othersignificant ways. The importance of this participation is advocated by others as106well, including local community workers such as Jim Green of the DowntownEastside Residents Association, (quoted in Lang-Runtz 1989: 18-19):The answer to the housing problem, said Green lies not only in puttingmore dollars into social housing programs, but also in the strength ofindividuals.’Human beings learning new skills, new democraticstructures, being involved in the design and operation of their ownhousing, being planners in their own community’ will ultimately resultin better living conditions.Lobbying for changes in government policies is a great challenge given theentrenchment of the power structures in our society and particularly becauseplanners “.. .have little influence on the structure of ownership and power in thissociety...” (Forester, 1989:28). However, planners can “...influence the conditionsthat render citizens able or unable to participate, act, and organize effectivelyregarding issues that affect their lives” (Ibid. :28). This role involves usinginformation as a source of power which can be used “...to redress inequalities ofparticipation and distribution by bringing excluded groups into political processeswith an equal chance, equal information, and equal technical resources” (Ibid.:30).While the planner may not be able to offer the financial resources that otherpowerful lobby groups have assess to, it is incumbent upon she or he to worktowards a greater equality in the formulation of housing policy. Part of this mayinclude helping to change provincial legislation to give municipalities more power inthe housing arena. However, before this can be accomplished, both citizens andpoliticians must be educated about the importance of social housing, particularlygiven the potential to alleviate the pressure on other social agencies. Becausecitizens are often unjustifiably opposed to social housing in their neighborhood,planners may need to combat this NIMBY syndrome before the support of thepoliticians can be gained. Politicians must in turn recognize their responsibilities androles in providing affordable and adequate housing for single parents, by not doing sowould “. . .indicate that Canadians were abandoning the tradition that has107underpinned social policy since the 1930’s, that is, using public resources for theeffective development of Canada’s social capital” (Klodawsky and Spector,1988:154).5.4 Limitations of Thesis and Suggestions for Future ResearchSince a number of limitations were imposed upon this thesis, the scope wasnarrowly defined to determine: how well a non-profit housing society meets theneeds of female-led families; and whether ancillary benefits occurred by living there.Through the process of this inquiry it was discovered that further exploration andelaboration of a number of issues related to this topic would contribute to a greaterunderstanding. These suggestions for future research will be discussed in turn. First,the limitations of time and resources given the copious data generated byqualitative research, dictated that the case study be restricted to one non-profithousing group. However, an extension of the research to include perhapscomparisons with other types of housing, such as cooperatives, may lead to greatergeneralizations of the benefits of non-profit housing. Furthermore, while qualitativeresearch was seen to be an appropriate methodology for conducting research “with”rather than “on” women as it facilitated mutual learning and contributed greatinsight into the effectiveness of non-profit housing, given the limitations of time andresources the research was not completely participatory. Ideally, the women shouldbe involved in every step of the inquiry, including deciding what the importantquestions are, and how the results are to be interpreted and used. The rewards ofsuch an in-depth process are seen to be significant, offering a substantivecontribution to this field of study, and thus should be further pursued as a method ofinquiry in future research.Second, comparative studies with other countries, particularly Scandinaviancountries, who are further advanced in the non-profit housing sector than Canada,would be very valuable. Such studies would enable lessons to be learned regarding108the provision of comprehensive housing policies with a nation that shares a similarhistory of a long period of industrialization and high living standards. In particular,this may involve the impact such policies have on the health and welfare of low-income groups like single mothers. Many lessons can be learned by studyingScandinavia’s extensive experience with this type of housing, as it has led to anumber of innovative approaches in the design and management of housing and theprovision of such things as day-care facilities, which are required by law in all newmultiple housing in Denmark (Bacher, 1986). Such ancillary amenities, not found inmost housing in Canada, were found in this thesis to be an important element forsingle mothers, and thus, should be a focus of future study.Third, while there is a distinction in much of the research between singleparents on the basis of marital status, including single, never married, separatedand divorced, and widowed, this research, as with most, overlooks the variation incultural groups that exist among single parents. There is a need for an expansion inresearch to include some relevancy to groups of women who represent othercultures. It was discovered, late in the research for this thesis, that for many of thewomen living in Entres Nous Femmes buildings English was a second language,which impaired their ability to respond to research requests. The inclusion of non-Caucasian women in the study of female-led families could potentially alter theconclusions drawn, given their different cultural norms and values.Fourth, the findings of the case study only briefly revealed the impact ofinadequate housing on the physical and mental health of single mothers and theirchildren. This was found to be one of the salient difficulties in housing lived in prior toENF. Such health problems for these families have ramifications that affect manythings including their ability to become productive members of their community, aswell as unnecessarily taxing the health care system. The relationship betweenhousing and health is one that needs further investigation.109Fifth, this thesis furnished evidence of the benefits of social housing, but waslimited in the discussion of how to deal with the inadequacies of funding. The pursualof the most effective ways in which all three levels of government can participate inhelping to provide this housing is perhaps an appropriate next step in this research.Beyond political will, policy-makers need some practical, innovative, workingsolutions to the ever-growing crisis in social housing.A final note: evidence from this thesis has demonstrated that housing is morethan shelter. It pervades every aspect of our lives, positively or negatively affectingour personal and social development. A recognition of this pervasiveness not only onindividuals, but on society as a whole, is critical for policy-makers to address and isthe message that this thesis has hoped to convey.110BIBLIOGRAPHYAnderson, G. 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Freedom to Build: Dweller Control of the HousingProcess (pp.241-254) (The Macniillian Co., New York)Forester, J. (1989) Planning in the Face ofPower (University of California Press,Berkeley)Freiler, C., and B. Kitchen (1990) ‘Family Portrait’, Canadian Housing 7(2): 12-14Friedmann, J. (1987) Planning in the Public Domain: From Knowledge to Action(Princeton University Press, Princeton)Geary, V. (1994) Building Communities: The Importance ofParticipatoryManagement in Non-Profit Housing, Masters Thesis (The School of Communityand Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver)Gerritsma, M. (1984) Innstead Housing Co-Op: Women’s Second Chance toLead and Learn, Unpublished Paper (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,Dept. of Education, Toronto)Gerson, K. (1983) ‘Changing Family Structure and the Position of Women: A Reviewof the Trends’ American Planning Association Journal 49(2): 138-148Greve, J. (1971) Voluntary Housing in Scandinavia (Centre for Urban and RegionalStudies, Birmingham)Grieve, B. and J.D. Hulchanski (1984) Housing Issues and Canadian FederalBudgets 1968-1984, UBC Planning Papers (Canadian Planning Press, Vancouver)Gurstein, P., and E. Hood (1975) Housing Needs of One Parent Families (YMCA,Vancouver)112Harris, R. (1991) ‘Housing’ in T. Bunting and P. Filion (eds.) Canadian Cities inTransition (pp.350-378) (Oxford University Press, Toronto)Hayden, D. (1984) Redesigning the American Dream: The Future ofHousing, Work,and Family Life (W.W. Norton and Company Inc., New York)Home, J., and L. Baldwin (1988) Homesharing and Other Life-style Options(American Association of Retired Persons, Washington)Hulchanski, J.D. 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(1983) ‘The Value of Quantitative Methodology for FeministResearch’ in G. Bowles and R. Duelli Klein (eds.) Theories of Women’s Studies(pp.140-161) (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London)Jayaratne, Epstein, T. and A. J. Stewart (1991) ‘Quantitative and QualitativeMethods in the Social Sciences: Current Feminist Issues and Practical Strategies’in M. M. Fonow and J. A. Cook (eds.) Beyond Methodology: Feminist Scholarship asLived Research (pp.85-106) (Indiana University Press, Indianapolis)Jordan, E. (1981) The Housing Needs ofFemale-led One Parent Families (CMHC,Ottawa)Klodawsky, F., A. Spector, and C. Hendrix (1983) The Housing Needs ofSingleParent Families in Canada (CMHC, Ottawa)KLodawsky, F., and A. Spector (1985) ‘Mother-Led Families and the BuiltEnvironment in Canada’, Women and Environments 7(2): 12-14113Klodawsky, F., A., Spector, and D., Rose (1985) Single Parent Families andCanadian Housing Policies: How Mothers Lose (CMHC External Research Awards,Ottawa)Klodawsky, F., and A. Spector (1988) ‘New Families, New Housing Needs, NewUrban Environments: The Case of Single Parent Families’ in C. Andrew and B.Moore Milroy (eds.) Life Spaces: Gender, Household, Employment (pp.141-158)(UBC Press, Vancouver)Lang-Runtz, H. (1989) ‘Access to Housing: The Problem and the Challenge’,Canadian Housing 6(3): 16-19Moore, M. (1987) ‘Women Parenting Alone’, Canadian Social Trends 7: 31-36(Statistics Canada, Ottawa)McCamant, K., & C., Durrett (1988) Co-Housing:A Contemporary Approach toHousing Ourselves (Habitat Press/Ten Speed Press, Berkeley)McClain, J., and C. Doyle (1984) Women and Housing: Changing Needs and theFailure ofPolicy (James Lorimer and Co., Toronto)Parliament, J.B. (1989) ‘Women Employed Outside the Home’, Canadian SocialTrends 13: 2-6 (Statistics Canada, Ottawa) Catalogue No. 11-008EPatton, M. Q. (1990) Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods (SagePublications Inc., California)Pool, I. and M. Moore (1986) Lone Parenthood: Characteristics and Determinants:Results from the 1984 Family History Survey (Minister of Supply and Services,Ottawa) Catalogue No. 99-961Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (1992) Personal CommunicationsReinharz, S. (1992) Feminist Methods in Social Research (Oxford University Press,New York)Stern, L. (1993) Personal CommunicationsSelby, J. and A. Wilson (1988) Canada’s Housing Co-operatives: An AlternativeApproach to Resolving Community Problems, UBC Planning Papers, CanadianPlanning Issues #26 (School of Community and Regional Planning, The Universityof British Columbia, Vancouver)Shea, C. (1990) ‘Changes in Women’s Occupations’, Canadian Social Trends 18: 21-23 (Statistics Canada, Ottawa) Catalogue no. 11-008ESimon, J. (1986) ‘Women and the Canadian Co-Op Experience: Integrating Housingand Economic Development’, Women and Environments 8 (1): 10-12Society Act Certificate (1987) (Entres Nous Femmes Housing Society, Vancouver)114Statistics Canada (1984) Canada’s Lone-Parent Families (Minister of SupplyServices, Ottawa) Catalogue No. 99-933.(1986) Guide to Statistics Canada Data on Families. (Minister ofSupply and Services, Ottawa)(1989) Changes in Living Arrangements: 1986 Census Highlights(Minister of Supply and Services, Ottawa) Catalogue No. 11-008E(1990) Income Distribution by Size in Canada (Minister ofIndustry, Science & Technology, Ottawa) Catalogue No. 13-207Tomm, W. (eds.) (1989) Effects ofFeminist Approaches on ResearchMethodologies (Wilfi-id Laurier University Press, Ontario)Wekerle, G. (1985) ‘From refuge to service center: Neighborhoods that supportwomen’, Sociological Focus 8(2): 79-95(1988) Women’s Housing Projects in Eight Canadian Cities (CMHC,Ottawa)___________(1988a)‘Canadian Women’s Housing Co-Operative: Case Studies inPhysical and Social Innovation’ in C. Andrew and B. Moore Milroy (eds.) Life Spaces:Gender, Household, Employment (pp.102-140) (UBC Press, Vancouver)Wekerle, G., and S. Novac (1989) ‘Developing two women’s housing cooperatives’ inK.A. Franck and S. Abrentzen (eds.) New Households, New Housing (pp.223-242)(Van Norstrand Reinhold, New York)Young, N. (1987) ‘Homes for the homeless: A right, not a commodity’, CanadianHousing, 4 (3): 34-35Appendix A: Letter of Request to Entres Nous Femmes to ConductResearch115116ENTRES NOUS FEMMES HOUSING SOCIETY RESEARCHPROPOSALL IntroductionMy name is Cheryl Mackniak and I am a master’s student in the faculty ofCommunity and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia. The topicof my thesis is Housing for Female Single Parent Families. The central tenet of myargument is that housing needs for these families are not met in the market due tothe inequities in our market economy. However, alternative housing options, suchas ENF, are proving to be successful not only in providing affordable and adequateshelter, but also in meeting other needs as well. This housing should be supported asit provides a base from which women can derive many benefits, which inevitablyimproves the health of the whole community. My research has two objectives: first,to determine how well this housing is meeting the needs of single parent families;and second, what social and economic benefits does stable, affordable housing bringthese families.IL Research MethodologyMy research, if given approval by the ENF board, would have ENF as a casestudy to demonstrate the ways in which this housing meets the needs of singleparent families. This would involve conducting a survey with a short list of questionsasking women, who are single parents, to evaluate their housing environment. Inorder to get an adequate sample the survey would be distributed to single mothers infive of the housing communities. Secondly, I would also appreciate the opportunityto personally interview some of these women, which if they were interested, couldvolunteer by calling my number on the survey. The purpose of these open-endedinterviews would be to discuss the women’s housing histories, and to determine whatimpact ENF has had on their lives in terms of social and economic benefits.ifi. Goals of ResearchIn conclusion, the goals for this research are to find out how alternative formsof housing, such as non-profit housing societies, meet the needs of single mothers, inaddition to providing adequate and affordable housing. I hope to further advanceresearch in this field to improve housing environments for single mothers. I aspire toaccomplish this in the most sensitive manner possible, with the least disturbance tothe lives of those who live in ENF. I am aware that a research project documentingthe history of ENF has recently been done and I do not wish to disrupt tenants anymore than they already have been. So, if I am granted permission to do this surveyand interviews, please let me know if there are specific things that I can do toreduce further intrusion into the tenants lives. I would be happy to meet with anyinterested board members to discuss what methods could be used to minimize anydisruptions that such research may involve.Appendix B: Follow-up Letter to Board Members and Tenants of Entres NousFemmes117118Cheryl A. Mackniak1581 Mariners WalkVancouver, B.C.V6J 4X9February 24, 1993Dear Board Members and Tenants of ENF:Thank-you for granting me permission to carry out research with EntresNous Femmes. My research, if you are not already aware, is focused on the extentto which non-market housing meets the needs of female single parent families. I feelENF provides an inspirational example of what housing for female single parentscan be when women have input in the development and management of their ownhousing. This research will provide ENF with a greater understanding of the degreeto which female single parents feel that their housing needs are being met by ENF,as well as illustrate the additional benefits that this type of housing can bring.Hopefully this will be a valuable source of information for improving existingcommunities as well as those in the future.This research has been designed intentionally to minimize the impact that it willhave on the communities. I have kept the survey short (one page), and theinterviews have been structured to take no more than an hour of a participant’stime. Participation is voluntary and confidentiality will be respected at all timeswith no information identified with individuals. All information that is relayed to mewill be incorporated into this research anonymously. Those who volunteer to beinterviewed have the option of a phone or personal interview. In order to accuratelyrecall the information communicated to me I will ask permission to audio-tape theconversation. If any-one feels at all uncomfortable with this the recorder will not beused, and certainly, it will be turned off at any time a participant chooses during theinterview. The tapes will also be destroyed after the information is processed.I would like to especially thank Leslie Stern and Bernie Archer for their inputand cooperation with me in this research. Their guidance has been a great help tome. I will continue to report to them as the research progresses.Thank-you very much for your time. If you should have any questions orcomments on the survey, the interview schedule, or any other related concerns,please call me at: 731-8484 (or leave a message and I will get back to you) beforeFebruary 22nd, so that I can respond to your concerns. I will proceed to distributethe surveys to the 5 Vancouver communities on February 24th with the help of theproperty managers (thanks!). I will then pick the surveys up on Monday March 1st.Any-one who is interested in being interviewed can call me at my number on thebottom of the survey and we will make arrangements at their convenience.Thank-you again,Cheryl MackniakAppendix C: Letter to Tenants of ENF Requesting Research Participation119120University of British Columbia(School of Community and Regional Planning)Research Study: Housing for Female Single Parent FsnniliesMy name is Cheryl Mackniak and I am a master’s student in the faculty ofCommunity and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia. I amconducting research to examine how well alternative non-market housing, likeEntres Nous Femmes, meets the needs of female single parents. The Board ofEntres Nous Femmes has granted me permission to conduct this research, part ofwhich involves a survey to evaluate your living environment in ENF. Your firsthand knowledge in this matter would greatly assist my research and lead to a betterunderstanding of appropriate housing delivery for female single parents.I realize the time constraints of a single parent so I have kept this surveyshort! (It should not take more than 5 or ten minutes to fill out). Although thequestions are to be answered with a circle, or by filling in the blank, I welcome andencourage any additional comments which can be made directly below eachquestion and/or on a separate sheet that is provided.If any-one is interested in aiding me further by contributing an hour of hertime for an interview with me, I would greatly appreciate it. The interview wouldinvolve getting a sense of your housing history. Some of the things that I would beinterested in discovering would be: what kind ofhousing did you live in before movingto ENF; has your life changed since moving to ENF, if so, how? This can be doneeither in person or on the phone, whatever is your preference. If you choose to beinterviewed in person, and child care is an issue for you, I would be happy to makearrangements for this. The location of the interview is your choice, whatever is themost convenient for you. (It was suggested at the February 17th Board Meetingthat the common space could be used, this is an option, if it is available.)I hope that you will all agree to fill out this survey and that many of you willagree to an interview. The higher the response rate the more accurate this researchwill reflect ENF’s communities. If you are uncomfortable with any of the questionsin the survey or interviews feel free to omit answering them. Your confidentiality willbe respected at all times with no information identified with you personally. Allinformation that you and the other single mothers relay to me will be incorporatedinto this research anonymously.Thank-you for your time, your contribution to my research is invaluable. Theresults of this research will be included in my thesis which will be accessible in theFine Arts library at U.B.C., and a copy will also be presented to ENF. If you wouldlike your own copy this can be arranged as well.Please call me at 731-8404 (leave a message if I am not at home) if you areinterested in helping me enrich my research with your insight through a personal orphone interview, or ifyou have any questions or comments.Sincerely,Cheryl MackniakAppendix D: Survey121SURVEYQUESTIONNAIREPleaseindicateyouranswersbycirclingyesorno,bycirclingthenumberwhichmostcloselyreflectsyourresponseorbyfillingintheblank.Additionalcommentscanbemadedirectlybelowthequestionoronthesheetprovided.Omitanyquestionsthatyoufeeluncomfortableanswering.1A.Wereyouonawaitinglist togethousinginENF?YesorNo1B.Ifso,Howlongdidittakeyoutogetaccepted?days,weeks,monthsyear(s)2A.Isyourhousingclosetowork?YesorNoorN/A(NotApplicable2B.Isyourhousingclosetoschools?YesorNo2C.Isyourhousingclosetostores?YesorNo2D.Isyourhousingclosetootherservices?YesorNo3Doyoufeelasenseof securityoftenureinENF74=rc0MPLETELYSECURE3=REASONABLYSECURE2=NOTVERYSECURE1 =NOTSECUREATAJ]ie.withoutthoughtsofevictionorunreasonablerentincreases’)4A.Howadequateandsafearetheplayareasaroundyourhousingfor yourchildren74=COMPLETELYADEQUATE&SAFE=!REASONABLYADEQUATE&SA2=!NOTVERYADEQUATE&SAFE1=TSAFEJ48.Howadequatearethefacilitiesinyourhousingcommunityfor teenagers?4=COMPLETELYADEQUATE3=REASONABLYADEQUATE2=NOTVERYADEQUATE1=NOTADEQUATEATALL0=N/A4C.HowadequatearethefacilitiesintheFI1surroundingareaforteenagers?4=COMPLETELYADEQUATE3=REASONABLYADEQUATE2=[NOTVERYADEQUATEIi=NOTADEQUATEATALL0=N/A4D.Canyoumonitoryourchildren,whiletheyplay,fromyourhousingunit?4=COMPLETELY3=REASONABLY2=NOTREALLY1 =NOTATALL4E.Towhatextentisyourhousingcommunityinvolvedininformalchildcarearrangements?4=COMPLETELYINVOLVED3=MODERATELYINVOLVED2=NOTVERYINVOLVED1=NOTINVOLVEDATALL4F.Aretherelicensedchildcarefacilitiesinyourneighborhood?YesorNo4G.Overall,towhatdegreedoyouthinkyourchild-careneedsarebeingmet?4=COMPLETELY3=REASONABLYWELL2=NOTVERYWELL1=NOTATALL5A.Doyoufeelsafeinyourhousing?4=COMPLETELYSAFE=REASONABLYSAFE12=INOTVERYSAFE11 =INOTSAFEATALLI5B.DoyoufeelsafeinyoursurroundingiIneighborhood?4=COMPLETELYSAFEj3=REASONABLYSAFE12=NOTVERYSAFE1=NOTSAFEATALL6IsyourhomeinENFeasytomaintain’4=VERYEASY3=RESONABLYEASJ2=NOTVERYEASY1=NOTEASYATALLRequireminimaleffort,timeandmoney)—________________________________________7A.Towhatextentdoyoufeelyourhousingienvironmentprovidesasenseof community?4=COMPLETE=lSOMEWHj 2=1VERYLITTLE1 =N.OTATALL7B.Isthiscommunitysupportiveofyouandyourfamily?4=COMPLETELYSUPPORTIVE3=REASONABLYSUPPORTIVE2=NOTVERYSUPPORTIVE1 =NOTSUPPORTIVE7C.Whatdoyouuseyourcommonspacefor?8A.Whatlevelof privacydoesyourhousingofferyouandyourfamily?4=COMPLETEPRIVACY3=REASONABLEPRIVACY2=VERYLITTLEPRIVACY1=NOPRIVACYATALLSURVEYQUESTIONNAIREPleaseindicateyouranswersbycirclingyesorno,bycirclingthenumberwhichmostcloselyreflectsyourresponseorbyfillingintheblank.Additionalcommentscanbemadedirectlybelowthequestionoronthesheetprovided.Omitanyquestionsthatyoufeeluncomfortableanswering.1A.Wereyouonawaitinglisttoget housinginENF?YesorNo1B.Ifso,Howlongdidittakeyoutogetaccepted?days,weeks,monthsyear(s)2A.Isyourhousingclosetowork?YesorNoorN/A(NotApplicable2B.Isyourhousingclosetoschools?YesorNo2C.Isyourhousingclosetostores?YesorNo2D.Isyourhousingclosetootherservices?YesorNo3Doyoufeelasenseof securityof tenureinENF?4=fCOMPLETELYSECURE3=REASONABLY_SECURE_2=LNOTVERYSECURE1 =NOTSECUREATALL(ie.withoutthoughtsofevictionorunreasonablerentIncreases?)4A.Howadequateandsafearetheplayareasaroundyourhousingforyourchildren?4=[COMPLETELYADEQUATE&SAFj3=REASONABLYADEQUATE&SAFE2=NotVERYADEQUATE&SAFE1=NOTSAFE4B.Howadequatearethefacilitiesinyourhousing1communityforteenagers?4=COMPLETELYADEQUATE3=REASONABLYADEQUATE2=NOTVERYADEQUATE_Ii=NOTADEQUATEATALL0=N/A4C.HowadequatearethefacilitiesIntheIIsurroundingareaforteenagers?4=COMPLETELYADEQUATE3=REASONABLYADEQUATEJ2=NOTVERYADEQUATE1 =[NOTADEQUATEATALLO=_N/AAppendix E: Interview Schedule125126INTERVIEW SCHEDULEI. Housing Histories1. As a single mother what kind of housing did you live in before moving to ENF?(rental, homesharing, co-op, etc.)2. Prior to moving to ENF did you have difficulties finding adequate housing? If so,what were some of the obstacles and/or frustrations?3. What were the conditions of your housing like, -how did it, or did it not, meet theneeds ofyou and your family?4. How did you find out about ENF?5. When did you move to ENF?6. What was it about ENF that attracted you to it?II. Current Housing Situation1. What do you like most about living in ENF?2. Is there anything that you are particularly unhappy with?3. Do you feel that your child care needs are being met? If so how? If not, how do youthink they could be?4. Do you feel safe in your housing environment and your surrounding neighborhood?If not, why don’t you? If not, what do you think could be done to make it safer?5. Are you close to schools, stores, work and so on? Do you have a car? Ifyou don’thave a car, is public transit convenient easily accessible? If it is not convenient andaccessible, do you feel this has limited your job choices?5. Are there any design features that you feel help you in your parenting?6. Are there any concerns about security of tenure? If so, what are they?7. Are there any issues of privacy that you are concerned about?Do you feel that there is a balance between privacy and community in yourcomplex?8. Do you feel there is a sense of community where you live? Is this important toyou? Is it facilitated by the common space?How often do you use the common space? What do you use it for?9. How do you think that your housing could better meet your needs as a singleparent?12710. Have you become involved in the community at any level?11. If you have, has this involvement taught you any new skills- social, business orotherwise?12. If you are involved and this involvement has taught you new skills, have theseskills become useful to you, for example, in your current job, or in getting a job?13. What changes, if any, have you perceived in yourself since you have been livingin ENF?14. Do you feel that your housing with ENF has empowered you to make changes inyour life? (ie. has it enabled you to do something that you may not have consideredpreviously)15. What about the lives of your children, have they changed in this livingenvironment?


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