About the Project


There are various forms of housing assistance programs for low-income households, ranging from designated affordable housing units to portable housing subsidies. Historically, housing assistance in Canada has been offered through unit-based programming, such as social housing managed by governments or non-profit housing organizations. Recipients of these programs rarely have much choice over where they live, often having to accept units that become available after lengthy waits. If the recipient moves out of their unit, their benefit ends. Thus, these programs are thought of as non-portable.

With the introduction of the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB), provinces and territories across Canada will be offering a portable direct-to-tenant housing subsidy, a form of housing assistance in which funds will be provided directly to the tenant. This new benefit is part of the National Housing Strategy (https://www.placetocallhome.ca/). The CHB allows a recipient to use the subsidy to help pay for a unit in private rental market, thereby reducing the proportion of their income spent on housing. If the CHB recipient decides to move, they are able to apply that benefit to their next unit of residence. Thus, this kind of benefit is considered portable.

The Study

The Housing Assistance and Life Outcomes research study (Project HALO) is a mixed methods study that will examine housing experiences and quality of life outcomes for households receiving portable and non-portable housing assistance. Specifically, we are interested in housing choice and housing discrimination, and how these factors are related to housing outcomes (i.e., housing and neighbourhood satisfaction) and other aspects of an individual’s quality of life.


Starting in December 2020, Project HALO will do this by:

  1. Inviting households that will be receiving the Canada Housing Benefit or are new social/community housing tenants to participate in this study
  2. Surveying these households for 1 year
  3. Interviewing recipients of the Canada Housing Benefit

Findings from this research is intended to gain a better understanding of how tenant-based housing subsidies, such as the Canada Housing Benefit impact households and how they might be optimized to improve quality of life.

This study is funded by CMHC and conducted by Pier Labs. The study will recruit participants through community organizations with housing services across Canada.

HALO Study Video

Research Team

Meet the Project HALO Research Team

Dr. Lynn Liao is the lead researcher with Project HALO. Lynn’s work has primarily focused on social issues that affect historically marginalized and vulnerable groups including persons experiencing poverty, racialized youth, rural youth, women, immigrants and refugees. She has extensive experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research, including designing research, developing data collection tools, conducting data analysis, and disseminating research findings to a non-technical audience. Lynn holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Arts in Community Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University. In 2017, she received her Doctor of Philosophy in Community Psychology from DePaul University.

Candis is a Researcher with Project HALO and has 3 years of experience of working with individuals from low-income and vulnerable populations, including those living with addictions, chronic health issues, and mental illness. Most recently, she has worked in the research and policy domains of harm reduction, community transportation, health-service delivery, and behavioural insights. Candis holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with Honours from Acadia University and a Masters of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Ottawa.

Ilse is a Researcher with Project HALO and has over 8 years of experience working with vulnerable populations and low income housing in Canada, the Netherlands and India. Most recently, she worked in the the public sector where she was involved in the development and implementation of initiatives under the National Housing Strategy. Ilse holds a Bachelor of Science in International Development Studies from Wageningen University and Master of Science in Contemporary Asian Studies from the University of Amsterdam, as well as a Master of Science in International Development Studies from Wageningen University.

Jennifer is the Project Manager for Project HALO and has over 20 years of diverse experience, working in both public sector and consulting, leading complex change initiatives focused in areas of natural resources management, geomatics, health care, community development, and advanced education. She is a strategic leader, who has a proven ability to co-create and implement innovative solutions to complex system and societal challenges. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Saint Mary's University, Masters of Business Administration from Athabasca University, and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management.

Dr. Geoff Nelson is an Advisor with Project HALO. He has extensive experience with housing research among the homeless population in Canada and is a Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philisophy in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of Manitoba.

Contact the Team

You can reach the Project HALO team by emailing: projecthalo@pierlabs.ca