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Toward healthy homes for all: RentSafe summary and recommendations

This resource is available in both English and French.

Housing is a key social determinant of health (SDH) and a component of healthy built environments and social environments. For this reason, housing is a critical point of action for public health to work towards health equity. However, due to lack of capacity and clarity on the role and scope of public health to address housing, it is often an area that is lost when it comes to advocacy and policy-making. For this reason, having an understanding of the underlying circumstances that contribute to unhealthy housing can help practitioners identify solutions and potential actions for public health.

RentSafe is a research initiative of the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment (CPCHE), a partnership that works collectively to address the environmental issues that influence the health of children across Canada. The RentSafe initiative seeks to address unhealthy housing conditions faced by low-income tenants in rural and urban communities in Ontario.

This summary document provides an overview of RentSafe research findings from focus groups with low-income tenants and surveys of public health units, legal aid clinics, by-law enforcement officers, landlords and direct-service providers to residents. Resources for intersectoral service providers are provided, as well as an overview of key intersectoral initiatives of the research program. For public health practitioners thinking about addressing housing as a social determinant of health inequity on a population level, the report has a set of recommendations related to intersectoral capacity, strengthening legal bases, knowledge, empowerment and collective vision.

Use this resource to

  • facilitate a discussion with public health colleagues about the role of practitioners to take action on unhealthy housing conditions for low-income tenants;
  • develop an approach that meaningfully engages community members who have lived experience of unhealthy housing with public health planning and policy development; and
  • explore intersectoral partnerships to address housing needs, including current collaborative groups that gather around other health equity issues.


RentSafe. (2018). Towards healthy homes for all: RentSafe summary and recommendations. Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment, Ottawa.

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Tags: Community engagement, Environmental health, Housing, Intersectoral action, Community Organization, Report / Document