Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is in the news again, this time for its deep pockets as the September 30 deadline fast approaches. Through its External Research Program, approximately 20 housing research grants of up to $20,000 each will be awarded by CMHC. The competition is open to Canadians or those with permanent resident status.

Since this Program began in 1980, over 2,400 applications have been submitted and 491 grants awarded.

During its 2000 Program alone, CMHC awarded $407,750 in grants of up to $20,000 to 22 Canadian researchers from the private and non-profit sectors to provide "new ideas and innovative solutions related to housing." Selected projects included:

  • Practical Measures for the Prevention of Basement Flooding Due to Municipal Sewer Surcharge (Ted Kesik, University of Toronto, Toronto ON)
  • Housing Options for Rural Women Living Alone (Margaret Steele, Grand Forks BC)
  • Mandatory Home Inspections on Resale Homes in Ontario (Terry Marshall, T. A. Marshall Housing, St. Thomas ON)

CMHC publishes and distributes research results when the studies are complete.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC supports and promotes research into a range of social, economic and technical aspects of housing and related fields. Through this annual grant competition, CMHC provides financial assistance to individuals in the private and not-for-profit sectors to carry out new and innovative housing research projects. Canadians who wish to pursue research into questions, problems and issues that affect Canadian housing, and therefore our communities, should look into the application process. The Program Administrator can be reached by telephone at 613 748 2249, by fax at 613 748 2402, by email, or through CMHC's website. The booklet, "Grants for Housing Research," provides guidelines and the application form.

Full-time students at the graduate or undergraduate level are not eligible but they may be hired to assist with the research.

The External Research Program supports a wide range of research, including design projects, educational programs, compilation of published statistical material, testing of researched products and preparation of instruction manuals.

Successful applicants are chosen on the basis of merit by a selection committee drawn from experienced researchers and housing experts in government, academia and business. The key evaluation criteria are: relevance for housing, a rigorous methodology and innovative ideas.

CMHC has identified nine housing research priorities and is continually looking for new and innovative ideas in these areas:

  1. Making Housing More Affordable
  2. Addressing Aboriginal Housing Needs
  3. Addressing Distinct Housing Needs
  4. Advancing Healthy Housing
  5. Helping Canadians Protect Their Investment in Housing
  6. Improving Building Performance
  7. Promoting Housing Export
  8. Exploring Housing Trends
  9. Improving Housing Finance and Market Effectiveness

The more that "end users" like you get involved in the development of Canadian housing and communities, the better chance we have of creating innovative, independence-enabling housing alternatives that suits us rather than serving the needs of developers and politicians. If your club or organization has a pet housing problem or beef that you'd like to see addressed, track down academics and researchers to see if you can get a research proposal underway.

  • CMHC will fill you in on the "how to" and can lead you to those who are currently active in the area you target.
  • Librarians and the Internet can help you locate current researchers to team up with or to enlist support from.
  • The Canadian Housing Information Centre, CMHC's primary research information service and Canada's most comprehensive housing library, is also a valuable resource. Consult its online catalogue, Access CMHC:The Housing Connection by modem at 1 800 294 5585 or at www.cmhc.ca. There are charges for some products and services.

If you miss out this year, there's always 2002 and in the process you'll learn more about what is going on and not going on in your community.

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