Our Impact

The WestEnd Commons model of social housing with community support is a powerful tool that can offer people a way out of poverty, social isolation, and food insecurity. These are the main findings of “Here We’re at Home,” a report published by Jessica Klassen, a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and long-time volunteer at WEC. Based on three years of research, Klassen finds that the combination of affordable housing and the availability of additional supports are key ingredients for improving people’s lives. According to her research, the impact of these supports, provided by WEC, includes greater “housing stability, stronger social networks, reduced isolation, improved mental health, increased food security, labour market attachments, and increased financial stability” (Klassen, 2018, p. 5).

Central to our model is the fact that tenants are more than renters. Support offered stems from this understanding, and we respond on a case-by-case basis to the needs and circumstances of every person. In addition to the various resources offered in the Neighbourhood Resource Centre in the WestEnd Commons’ basement, there is a Community Connector who works to bring people together and offer support where needed, suggesting “resource referrals, planning and implementing programming and events, training and casual employment opportunities, and facilitating community-building activities for tenants” (Klassen, 2018, p. 6).

Examples of responsive and supportive policies and procedures at WestEnd Commons include: flexibility in rent payments when necessary, responding positively to tenants’ request to have pets in the building, and prioritizing conflict resolution between tenants rather than strictly providing written warnings. The relationships developed between staff and tenants facilitate a proactive approach that take tenant’s contexts and life situations into account. (Klassen, 2018, p. 6).

Programs and events at WestEnd Commons:

  • Potlucks,

  • Cooking classes,

  • A photography club,

  • Soccer in the summer

  • A Handle with Care parenting group run by Mosaic—Newcomer Family Resource Network

  • Regular building-wide parties for holidays

We foster a socially inclusive environment within the community. The Community Connector communicates events and programming to tenants through one-on-one conversations, monthly tenant meetings, a newsletter that all tenants receive, and a WestEnd Commons Facebook group set up by a tenant. A tenant described the depth of her relationships at WestEnd Commons: “I won’t even say community, they are just like a family. In WestEnd Commons people look out for each other, which is what families do.” Another tenant said, “There’s a very good support system here for sure. I can rely on it a lot.”

What Does Social Inclusion at WestEnd Commons Look Like?

• Having “too many friends to name” within the building.

• A number of tenants attending the citizenship ceremony of a family

• Women bringing food to another who had a baby

• A tenant assisting another tenant in sponsoring a nephew to come to Canada

• Tenants providing childcare for one another

• Sharing meals and food

• Lending money

• Tenants helping each other with resume writing and job connections

• A number of tenants attending the citizenship ceremony of a family

• Children playing together daily in the atrium or at each others’ apartments