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UNB Saint John

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Housing, Mobilization, Engagement and Resiliency Lab (HOME-RL)

The Housing, Mobilization, Engagement and Resiliency Lab (HOME-RL) is an innovative social science laboratory on the UNB Saint John campus which engages in applied research and experiential educational. HOME-RL is focused on reducing housing and health inequities in Atlantic Canada and builds upon UNB Saint John’s core areas of health, community and coastal studies.

Pillar #1

Produce innovative research to improve the mental health of low-income households in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada

New Brunswick experiences some of the highest poverty rates in Canada. Saint John has a 19.4% poverty rate. In 2017, the Human Development Council found that 30% of children in Saint John were living in poverty. Seniors and newcomers also experience high poverty rates.

Recent assessments indicate that:

  • 70% of newcomer children in Saint John who immigrated between 2011 and 2016 live in poverty
  • Two of Saint John’s five priority neighbourhoods have childhood poverty rates of approximately 41% and 45%

Saint John is in a rural province and is a small city with extensive waitlists for primary, pediatric and mental health care. Poverty impacts housing stability and households’ abilities to access affordable accommodations.

Studies include:

  • The Maritime Community Housing and Health Initiative
    • Funded by the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation
    • Longitudinal study with the provincial Department of Social Development
    • Aim: To determine the impact of movement into publicly subsidized housing on mental health in general. Additional focus is placed on determining population-specific health outcomes for older adults, newcomers, and families with children
  • Partnership with SSHRC-CMHC Hubs
    • Our research team engages with SSHRC-CMHC Hubs from the University of Alberta and McMaster University
    • Preliminary work is underway for a scan of non-market housing in Atlantic Canada

Pillar #2

Address new housing and health realities from climate crises

In addition to poverty, Saint John and many other areas in New Brunswick have experienced adverse impacts related to climate crises. As an Atlantic province, New Brunswick has experienced a multitude of coastal storms in the past; however, these storms are increasing in duration, frequency, and intensity.

The St. John River rose to unprecedented levels during the spring freshet of 2018. Another flood of significant magnitude was experienced during the 2019 freshet. This flooding—once referred to as a one in one-hundred-year event—is now slated to become the province’s ‘new normal.’ Residential displacement and mental health impacts occur following significant flooding.

Studies include:

  • 2018 Rapid Response Study of the Spring Flood in New Brunswick
    • Funded by: Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
    • Aim: To determine the impacts of residential displacement on mental health of households that experience flooding. Secondary aim: To investigate the role of social capital in flood responses and recovery
  • 2019 Rapid Response Study of the Spring Flood in New Brunswick
    • Funded by: Harrison McCain Young Scholars Award and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
    • Aim: To investigate the impacts of repeated flooding on mental health of affected households. Secondary aim: To investigate changing perceptions on climate change
  • Establishing a Network of Disaster, Displacement, and Mental Health Researchers in Canada
    • Call for an edited collection on environment and health with Canadian Scholar’s Press
    • Establish collaboration with the Centre for Community Disaster Research at Mount Royal
    • Establish a listserv of interested researchers and graduate students, a centralized webpage, and an active blog that highlights current research

Pillar #3

Establish training and experiential education opportunities for senior undergraduate and graduate students

In order to support our first two pillars, it is important to establish training and experiential education opportunities for our students.

Opportunities include:

Supervision of Honour’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. students in the areas of Sociology, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Health Studies:

  • Projected student supervision through the lab in 2019-2020: 2 Honour’s, 2 MA, 2 Ph.D.
  • Expand capacity to engage with post-doctoral fellows

Construction and execution of senior undergraduate courses with experiential education components:

  • SOCI 4379: Community Engaged Health Research Seminar
    • Currently offered every other winter. Students engage with organizations in Saint John that are mandated to improve health and social determinants of health in the community. Students volunteer with agencies and work with agencies to determine a research question that can be answered with academic and grey literature. Final products include a working paper with the Institute for Urban and Community Studies and a mini-conference poster presentation
    • Participating agencies in 2019 included the New Brunswick Association for Community Living, the Saint John Free Public Library, Avenue B, Romero House, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Saint John
  • SOCI 3376: Mental Health, Addictions, and Wellbeing
    • Proposed to be offered every other winter. Students are introduced to the idea of community engaged research and are exposed to potential community partners through field trips and in conversation with invited in-class speakers. Final products include a brief research proposal and reflection papers
    • This course provides students who wish to take SOCI 4379 with an introduction to community engaged research and helps develop research capacity in students who plan to complete honour’s and/or graduate work