UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Housing, building, and neighbourhood influences on the experience of home for long-term tenants of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside McKay, Alina


Increasingly governments have turned to Housing First, a housing strategy where people are provided with housing that is not tied to treatment adherence or abstinence, to address urban poverty and homelessness. This thesis explores the question of “what next” by focusing on how “home” was experienced by long-term tenants living in Housing First buildings. Nineteen first interviews and eighteen second interviews were completed with tenants who had lived in their housing for at least three years and had a history of homelessness. A novel qualitative tool called the daily mapping calendar (DMC) was used to map daily activities and gain an understanding of how interrelationships between tenants (i.e. housed residents), DTES residents (i.e. both sheltered and unsheltered), and services providers shaped tenants' experiences of the spaces they frequented. Through situational analysis (a type of grounded theory), four social worlds were identified that shaped people’s service use: food security, health, income generation, and social connection. Further analysis identified housing, building and neighbourhood level influences on the experience of home. Factors central to the experience of home included: adequate and secure housing free of pests, where people experienced control and companionship; supportive relationships at the building level; and, tenants’ location in the DTES amid an on-going overdose crisis. These experiences were further embedded within an environment where gentrification and colonialism were interwoven. This research has important implications for where and how housing and services are provided. Priorities identified by tenants included protecting the inclusiveness and accessibility of the DTES, while also investing in housing and services outside of the DTES. The responsibilities of researchers and institutions to research participants were also explored, given the long history of intensive research in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Drawing on the concepts of relational validity and morality, it is proposed that researchers have a responsibility to ensure that their findings make it back to research participants. The institutional responsibility to ensure open access (i.e., research is freely available online) to academic journal articles is also explored. Together these responsibilities provide insight into how research processes can be strengthened to ensure the continued trust and collaboration of research participants.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International