Practice Areas

Our work across the housing system is focused on three key practice areas: Policy and Research, Housing Development, and Business Model Innovation. Through these areas of work, we help our public, non-profit, and private sector clients answer complex questions about the housing needs in their communities, build social purpose real estate, and envision alternative futures for their organization.

Policy and Research

SHS Consulting is one of Canada's leading firms in housing research and the development of housing policy at all levels of government. Since its inception, SHS has undertaken a wide range of studies for the federal government, provincial departments and more than 50 municipalities across Canada on issues addressing the full range of needs across the housing continuum. A particular specialty of SHS is the preparation of comprehensive municipal housing strategies which includes a comprehensive analysis of housing demand and supply and the identification of policies, programs and strategies for addressing the gaps in supply identified by the analysis.

SHS has also undertaken program evaluations, operational reviews, surveys, portfolio strategies, financial analysis, end of operating agreement reviews, studies on vulnerable populations, research on seniors housing issues, and program design. A major feature of all work carried out at SHS is a strong commitment to community engagement to ensure all voices are heard in the development of policies and programs.
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Featured Projects

Housing Options for People Living with Dementia

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

How might we design housing solutions to meet the unique needs of people living with dementia?

Working in collaboration with the University of Toronto Balance of Care Group and Snyder Architects, SHS Consulting developed content for an updated publication aimed at presenting information, through a web-based platform, to provide guidance to individuals living with dementia and their caregivers, and to operations and providers of housing for persons with dementia on how to: increase the safety of the home environment for people living with dementia and their caregivers; create a supportive home environment for persons living with dementia; and, highlight practical information and guidance for managing and designing housing for people living with dementia.

An extensive literature review was conducted as part of preparing the Guide.

In addition consultations were held with providers and operators of existing community-based housing for persons living with dementia across the country, with caregivers of persons living with dementia.

How might we reframe the Region of Peel’s role in the evolving local housing system to ensure housing opportunities for all?

The SHS team was retained by the Region of Peel in 2017 to renew the Region’s 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan and to help meet the housing requirements related to the updated Provincial Growth Plan. The SHS and Peel teams set an ambitious plan to challenge current assumptions about housing services and the Region’s role in the local housing system. Through a design- and systems-led process, the SHS team facilitated four key components of work:

  • A housing needs assessment, examining housing supply and demand indicators in Peel to build a picture of the affordability gaps across all population groups;
  • The development of short- and long-term outcomes and housing development targets to meet the requirements of the Provincial Growth Plan;
  • The identification of roles and responsibilities of the Region of Peel and its housing partners; and
  • An environmental scan and economic analysis of financial and non-financial tools and incentives to encourage the development of affordable housing.

The study involved a dozen co-creation sessions with stakeholders from the Region, City of Mississauga, City of Brampton, and Town of Caledon, private sector developers, and local non-profit agencies and housing providers. Participants were led through foresight methods such as the Three Horizons model and trend scanning, prioritization and evaluation frameworks, and collaborative discussion spaces inspired by Liberating Structures methodologies.

The study resulted in a consolidated final report summarizing the findings of all four components and the details of a pilot program to encourage the development of affordable rental, affordable ownership, and market-rate rental housing in the Region. The report also included recommended Official Plan policies.

Housing and Homelessness Plan Renewal and Housing Strategy

Region of Peel

Housing Allowance Program Review

City of Toronto

How might we improve the design and delivery of City of Toronto’s housing allowance program to incorporate the experiences of administrators and recipients?

In 2017, the City of Toronto’s Shelter Services and Housing Administration (SSHA) set out to review the Toronto Housing Allowance Program to determine if Program objectives were being met and if changes should be recommended to make the Program more effective. The Housing Allowance Program offers a monthly allowance to individuals and households in Toronto who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. As housing program and evaluation specialists, the SHS team conducted three phases of work, which resulted in a final report outlining recommendations to improve program administration and certain elements in the experience of housing allowance recipients.

During phase one, a literature review was conducted to identify best practices in housing allowance programs in North America and Europe. Based on the literature review, we developed an evaluation and data collection strategy. As many program participants belonged to vulnerable population groups, SSHA and SHS worked in close collaboration to design a review process that ensured participants’ privacy was guaranteed, and all of the City’s questions were answered.

In phase two, program participant data was collected and reviewed. The City of Toronto provided a database with administrative program data. Based on the program data, a telephone survey of housing allowance recipients was conducted to better understand the experience of applying for and receiving the housing allowance.

Phase three involved undertaking focus groups with City staff, front-line staff, Provincial staff, and individuals who were currently receiving the housing allowance to fill the data and knowledge gaps.