What is the Neighbourhood House in Metro Vancouver research project?

The interwoven effects of globalization and intensified transnational mobility have led to widening economic disparities, increasing social inequality, and declining social cohesion and civic-political engagement in modern urban centers.

The NHiMV project is a community-based research project examining how neighbourhood houses (NHs), as a place-based third sector approach, help local urban community residents face the emerging challenges associated with globalization, contemporary capitalism, and neoliberal politics that may put communities at risk of increased social alienation and division.

The project is the first comprehensive and systematic study on NHs in Canada and seeks empirical answers for the primary research question:

“How do neighbourhood houses, as place-based, multi-service, community-governed, non-profit organizations, affect social equity, collective efficacy, and inclusion, based on the cases of Metro Vancouver?”

The NHiMV project gathers empirical evidence to demonstrate NH’s ability to integrate service delivery, community-building functions and roles as a place-based third sector organizations as well as offering a thorough and critical investigation of the multi-faceted nature of NHs in Canada.

Key objectives of the research:

  • To fill knowledge gaps of how NHs have, as a place-based model for building and strengthening urban communities, survived and remained active civil society organizations in urban Canada
  • To generate vigorous empirical evidence of how NHs address the local-global challenges faced by socially diverse groups within their service communities
  • To analyze how policies and human actions interact at different scales in order to exercise power to strengthen or dismantle social inclusion/integration that affects the quality of life for all people in the community
  • To provide a historical analysis of the evolution of NHs, as a place-based social mechanism, in response to both public policy and local contextual changes
  • To suggest place-based policy alternatives to enhance social integration and civic-political engagement in urban communities
Research Methods:
The NHiMV Project is a multi-method research endeavor utilizing the following avenues to gather data:
  • Community mapping
  • Focus group interviews (individual and group)
  • Surveys (telephone) of NH members
  • Social Assets Mapping
  • Archival Studies
  • Textual Analysis
  • Secondary Data Analysis
  • Mixed-methods socio-demographic change study
  • “Street Phenomenology”

Tentative Research Timeline

Work Plan/Timeline (Map)

2012-2013    Preparation, historical archive study, socio-demographic change study, mapping community assets, textual analysis and key informant interviews

2013-2014    Historical archive study, socio-demographic change study, mapping community assets, textual analysis and key informant interviews, go-along and in-depth interviews

2014-2015    Publication and dissemination, go-along and in-depth interviews, NH members survey, focus group

2015-2016    Publication and dissemination

Long Term Outcomes

We anticipate that findings and activities generated by this project will generate long term impacts in:

  • Enriching and grounding the public discussion on bringing “place” back into public policy
  • Re-introducing and re-positioning NHs as a multi-service third sector social organizations in public policy discourse and programming
  • Enhance place-based community building and service delivery system for the increasingly diverse and fragmented urban communities of Canada
  • Ground Canadian and international NH movements in a systematic and vigorous re-examination of their contributions to local communities
  • Demonstrate and encourage future community-based research endeavors in generating knowledge for policy and practice
Policy Implications 
Research findings will fill research gaps, the results of which will help to inform municipal, provincial, and national place-based public policies and social programs that strengthen the capacities of urban communities to assist members facing socio-eco-political challenges and to welcome and integrate newcomers, particularly immigrants and refugees to Canada