Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Edward Bennett

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The present study documents the development of the Housing Working Group—a group which investigated strategies to improve the housing situation of new Canadians in Kitchener-Waterloo—and the subsequent formation of the founding board of directors of a multi-ethnic housing cooperative. It emphasizes the importance of new Canadian involvement in the intervention and the need to view their empowerment as a long-term goal, attainable only after a series of small, measurable successes. The research revealed two dilemmas in the practice of community development. First, though the empowerment of powerless people requires their active participation in self-help projects, the interventionist cannot force them to participate. Secondly, the awareness that inadequate housing is part of a wider problem had to be balanced with the need to keep the project focused on one issue (housing) in order to maintain the involvement of new Canadians. The research also pointed to the need for at least two interventionists in order to avoid burnout and to maintain a balanced view of the intervention. In terms of the more specific issue of creating non-profit housing, it was found that community groups involved in such projects must assert control over their proposals rather than allowing a community resource organization (which provides technical assistance in the development of housing projects) to take control for them. Ontario’s current non-profit housing program was praised for its involvement of community groups in the development of low-cost housing, but was found to suffer from too much red tape and a lack of program flexibility. It was suggested that groups should consider whether they are contributing to the problem of inadequate affordable housing by participating in a program which requires high numbers of subsidized units within projects and fails to enable access to centrally located land. Further research, including an evaluation of the completed intervention, is needed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season