Housing for Health

Housing for Health is an initiative based at the University of Alberta that aims to improve the health and well-being of community residents in Alberta and across Canada. The Housing for Health project focuses on the connection between “housing” and the neighborhoods in which housing occur (or, the “built environment”) and health.

A growing body of research shows us that there are many ways the built environment can affect health and well-being, including our physical activity levels, our access to healthy foods and beverages, and our social connections. The Housing for Health project uses this research to improve the health of community residents by changing how our buildings, streets and communities are planned, designed, developed and maintained. There is also growing evidence showing that strategies that improve the healthiness of communities can have co-benefits for accessibility, the environment, and even our businesses and the economy. 

Housing for Health is a five-year project funded by a Public Health Agency of Canada grant to the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB, Canada. 

The Housing for Health project has five components:

  1. Partnerships - Building relationships and working with partners from multiple sectors across Canadian provinces to learn from each other’s expertise, to share ideas, and to develop, implement and evaluate feasible improvements to built environment policies and practices to improve the health of community residents. A subset of partners have created the Healthier Food and Beverage Guidelines for Public Events (see relevant webpage). Together over 100 of our 200+ partners have also created the Healthy Community Guidelines. See the Healthy Community Guidelines webpage for more information. They are also available at www.uab.ca/hcg.
  2. Community Engagement - Engaging community residents, and organizations working with them, such as community leagues, so that we can create healthier environments together. We also aim to increase community resident awareness of the important relationship between our community environments and our health and the health of our families. 
  3. Pilot Developments - Planning, designing and constructing residential buildings and sites, as well as improvements to their surrounding neighbourhoods to promote good health in residents, including aging populations. The Christenson Group of Companies, Fillmore Construction and Greater Edmonton Foundation (GEF) have donated pilot development sites in Whitecourt, Leduc and Edmonton, Alberta for the project. The pilot developments assist us in learning how to best improve housing in different municipal contexts including Urban, Suburban, and Smaller and Rural communities. 
  4. Research and Evaluation - Conducting research on the different components of the project: the partnerships, pilot developments and the work with communities. It is important to know what is effective at improving health and well-being in our local Canadian context. Publications can be found on the Publications webpage. 
  5. Knowledge Dissemination - Sharing successes and lessons learned from the project. Sharing knowledge about how to improve the health of communities will assist those involved to know the impacts of their work. It will also help others to implement health-promoting and health-protecting building, site and neighbourhood planning and design practices in their own community, town, city, or region. Housing for Health has hosted three annual Fit Cities Fit Towns Canada Conferences in 2021, 2022 and 2023. For more information, see the Fit Cities Fit Towns Canada Conference page. 


 Housing for Health Overview