Working to combat poverty requires strong collaboration between the social housing sector and the health and social services sector.
Such collaborations, or partnerships, are known as intersectoral practices.
The fact of combining health and social services resources with social housing increases the development potential.
The fact of combining health and social services resources with social housing increases the development potential of individuals and provides easier access to services and opportunities that can help them overcome their social background. Such practices have the potential to multiply the theoretically positive impacts of living in social housing, thereby providing more equal access to opportunities that are likely to foster empowerment and support positive life trajectories for social housing residents. A good example of the equalizing potential of such an approach is the Place aux Familles project, based in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, a gentrified neighbourhood where residents of low-rent housing units (HLMs) live alongside more privileged families. One of the areas where this social gap takes a toll is at school.
The stakeholders and staff of Place aux Familles are well aware that children living in HLMs succeed less well in school and tend to end up in special education streams once they reach secondary school. One of the project’s initiatives was therefore to set up a homework assistance program, which is offered every afternoon in the HLM for the children who live there.
Naturally, the equalizing effect is not automatic. It is largely dependent on other factors, such as each individual’s will to succeed, previous life trajectory and physical and mental health. Nevertheless, an intersectoral approach has a greater potential to reduce social inequalities than when services are offered separately.
Paul Morin, Université de Sherbrooke
Deposit of the research report: November 2015