The Saint-Michel North Hous­ing project


This action-research project was ini­ti­at­ed by a recent­ly cre­at­ed social inno­va­tion unit of the Mon­tréal munic­i­pal hous­ing office (Office munic­i­pal d’habitation or OMHM). It aims to devel­op a social inno­va­tion effort as part of the project to remod­el the Saint-Michel North hous­ing project and sub­se­quent relo­ca­tion of ten­ants. All par­ties are involved in the under­tak­ing, includ­ing ten­ants of the hous­ing project, OMHM employ­ees, and pub­lic and com­mu­ni­ty part­ner orga­ni­za­tions. Cité-ID is accom­pa­ny­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the OMHM ini­tia­tive in order to iden­ti­fy orga­ni­za­tion­al mech­a­nisms estab­lished by the OMHM and oth­er stake­hold­ers to cre­ate the con­di­tions required for a healthy, safe, har­mo­nious, open and resilient liv­ing environment.

In 1971, seek­ing to relo­cate house­holds evict­ed as a result of major city works projects, the OMHM built 185 social hous­ing units (for 600 res­i­dents) that are now called the Saint-Michel North Hous­ing Project (Habi­ta­tions Saint-Michel Nord). At the time, con­struc­tion sparked broad debate, notably among pub­lic deci­sion-mak­ers, around risks of ghet­toiza­tion and stigmatization.

Forty years lat­er, the OMHM decid­ed to under­take a major ren­o­va­tions to pre­serve to pre­serve the build­ings that had become obso­lete (due to the aging of the pop­u­la­tion). It was at this point that the OMHM put in place a social inno­va­tion ini­tia­tive with its employ­ees and oth­er actors involved in the Saint-Michel North Hous­ing Project. The oper­a­tion has two main objec­tives: to pre­serve the qual­i­ty of the build­ings and to pro­vide a liv­ing envi­ron­ment that is safer, more har­mo­nious, open and resilient.

As part of this project, the Cité-ID Liv­ing Lab will co-con­struct orga­ni­za­tion­al mech­a­nisms with stake­hold­ers and test their abil­i­ty in real-life con­di­tions to achieve these two objec­tives.

We wish to also thank Nico­las Mer­veille, Pro­fes­sor at the Depart­ment of Strat­e­gy, Social and Envi­ron­men­tal Respon­si­bil­i­ty at the Uni­ver­sité du Québec à Mon­tréal and Lyn­da Rey, Pro­fes­sor at the École nationale d’administration publique for their col­lab­o­ra­tion in this project.