Project HALO

The Housing Assistance and Life Outcomes Research Study

Housing Assistance Building Project

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), all provinces and territories across Canada started offering a portable direct-to-tenant housing subsidy, a form of housing assistance in which funds will be provided directly to the tenant. This benefit is part of the National Housing Strategy.  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.

Project HALO compares the housing and quality of life outcomes of portable and non-portable forms of housing assistance. 

About 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 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.

For the quantitative component of the study we will survey 600-750 people who are:

  • Recipients of the Canada Housing Benefit (portable housing assistance)
  • Public Housing tenants (non-portable housing assistance)
  • Waitlisted individuals from the public housing waitlist (control group)
Halo Study Infographic Picture

All participants will be asked to fill out a survey at three timepoints, each spaced 6 months apart from each other. Based on the preliminary analysis of the first two surveys the research team will invite a select group of participants to partake in the qualitative component of the study. The qualitative interviews will focus on in-depth understanding of housing experiences and the impacts on the quality of life for low-income Canadians.

Key Goals

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. Project HALO has three key goals:

  1. Collect longitudinal quantitative and qualitative data about how housing choice and housing discrimination affect quality of life.
  2. Explore the successes and challenges of implementing the Canada Housing Benefit.
  3. Share research results with provincial governments, policy makers and housing service providers to enable them to improve programs.

Project Partners

This study is funded by CMHC and conducted by Pier Labs. The Nova Scotia Community College Research Ethics Board has approved this project. Pier Labs would like to thank the following community organizations and government agencies for their support:

  • Calgary Housing Company
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Nova Scotia
  • Housing Nova Scotia
  • Lloydminster Region Housing Group
  • Metis Urban & Metis Capital
  • Phoenix Youth Shelter Nova Scotia
  • Region of Waterloo
  • Services and Housing In the Province (SHIP)
  • Welcome Housing
  • YMCA Cumberland
Team of people joining hands

Participant Frequently Asked Questions

Outside of hoursing building with colourful balconies

I don’t have a Participant ID. Can I still participate?

Participation in Project HALO is by invitation only. Our community partners send out the invitations, so we are unable to provide you with one.

If I choose not to participate, will it impact by housing benefits?

No. If you choose not to participate, this will not affect your eligibility for housing assistance, the type of housing assistance you receive, or your place on the waitlist.

How do I complete the survey?

Each survey can be completed online through Survey Monkey, or over the phone with one of our research team members. To arrange a time to complete the survey over the phone, call 1-833-643-4256 (toll free).

How long does each survey take?

Everyone is different. If you choose to complete the survey online, it takes approximately 20 -25 minutes. For surveys completed over the phone, it can take about an hour.

 Is there a paper copy of the survey that I can fill out?

No. You can only complete it online or over the phone.

What is the gift card?

After completing each survey, you get to choose a gift card from the following options: Tim Hortons, Walmart, Sobeys, or PC/Superstore/No Frills. 

I am not eligible to participate in the study, but would like to receive updates on the project. How can I find out more about the results of Project HALO?

As updates and reports become available, they will be found in the “Publications” section on this website.

Who can I reach out to with additional questions? 

Reach the Project HALO Research Team by email: or phone: 1-833-643-4256 (toll-free).