Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Community, Policy, Planning and Organizations


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Lea Caragata

Advisor Role



This dissertation presents the racial-gendered lived experiences of Black women living in Toronto Community Housing (TCH; subsidized housing). This research found that Black women and their families are disproportionately faced with challenges due to barriers caused by housing policy and procedures that also affect the overall development and wellbeing of their children. It also highlights the ways in which Black women continue to thrive and survive in the face of detrimental and derelict living conditions; accomplished through community development and support initiatives, and fostering strong communities.

This is a qualitative research project that includes an art-based method. Utilizing a feminist participatory action research approach (Reid, Tom & Frisby, 2006), and a Black geographic lens (McKittrick & Woods, 2007), I and 20 co-researchers detail the realities and challenges Black families face by way of TCH policies and procedures. Twenty-one women (including myself) shared their experiences with TCH, and five of these women completed a community mapping exercise. The analysis was guided by feminist political economy of place (FPEP; Parker, 2016). Five themes were developed from the research data: 1) TCH Housing Policy and Communities pose developmental risks for Black children and create parenting challenges; 2) TCH communities and policies operate to confine, police and surveil Black bodies; 3) TCH communities and policies create barriers to upward social mobility; 4) TCH Black women residents are strong, resourceful and resilient survivors; and 5) TCH Black women (re)create spaces that are supportive, constructive, and loving. This dissertation presents recommendations and an action plan to improve the lives of the co-researchers and their families, alongside other TCH families.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season