St. John’s Public Housing

slum housing and public housingThe photograph of the housing in the central core comes from a bold scheme for … doubling the living space of the town , page 348. The photograph of the housing in a public housing development comes from A Social Housing Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador page 16.


Welcome to my web site on the history of public housing in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. These pages attempt to trace changes over time in the willingness and ability of governments to address the issue of affordable housing in the community where I reside. It is striking that as the ability has risen, the willingness of society, as reflected by government policy, has declined.

I would like to express my appreciation to my family and friends whose stories, experiences and comments have helped to shape the contents of these pages. I would also like to acknowledge interesting and helpful conversations with Dr. Jo Shawyer and Dr. Chris Sharpe.

Access to adequate housing is a social right. For low-income families and individuals, to find adequate housing that is affordable has always been difficult. According to section 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Canada has ratified, everyone has a right to housing. The quality of the housing available to all segments of society is one measure of the inequalities that exist in society. Policies which led to the creation of public housing in Canada were developed after the Second World War in an attempt to address the issue of affordability. However, well intentioned programmes to remedy inequalities often create unintended outcomes. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the programmes that provided social housing were re-evluated and in 1992 the federal government withdrew from funding public housing. Currently, Canada ranks near the bottom in an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranking of 18 countries for inequalities in society.

You will find the following pages at this site:

Housing “totally unfit for human habitation” – the origins of the housing crisis in St. John’s.
If at first you don’t succeed … – early attempts to build affordable housing.
Ebsary Estate – housing built for war widows and their families.
The Solution – Planning: Churchill Park – St. John’s first planned suburb.
Canada’s oldest federal-provincial housing development – a solution to the housing problem?
In the blink of an eye – changes in housing policy in Canada.
Community development – growth of community centres.
That crowd up back – an unintended outcome – stigmatization.
Where do we go from here? – current challenges.
Resources – articles and web sites for more information.



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