The Production of Disability Through the Built Environment Surrounding Social Housing
The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a gap in the planning of affordable social housing and the accessibility of communities in which this housing is built. The assumption being that due to the rental process of social housing in Ontario, that people with impairments had little to no choice in which communities they lived and were therefore essentially forced to live in communities that were inaccessible and that through better planning this could be minimized. In an effort to establish context, in depth literature reviews were conducted to define concepts such as disability, community, social housing, social capital, participation, and place attachment. By defining and explaining these terms a better understanding of the importance of community integration for those with impairments was gained. This study then utilized two case study buildings, Lakeside Residences in Keswick and The Richmond Hill Hub in Richmond Hill in an effort to compare the experiences of tenants with impairments living in these communities. Tenants with impairments were interviewed and asked about why they were living where they did, what their experiences with the built environment were like, and whether they felt they were able to integrate with the community. The results of this research showed that the rental process for York Region actually does allow for a lot of choice for tenants when it comes to the communities in which they live as all tenants expressed that they lived where they were due to their own choosing. However, the tenants still felt that the surrounding community was inaccessible and that they were struggling to integrate into the communities due to the inaccessibility. It was concluded that issues of inaccessibility within the built environment stemmed from a rooted societal understanding of disability, and the responsibilities of upper and lower tier governments in regards to planning. A phenomenological approach to planning was suggested as a possible solution for planning future social housing complexes in an effort to house tenants in communities of their choosing that are more accessible.