Housing Playbook


HCD Visual with text

Human-Centred Design (“Design Thinking”)

Human-centred design, popularly known as design thinking, is an iterative, collaborative approach to problem-solving. We de-risk problem-solving by co-designing with end users, building solutions in small testable steps, and collecting feedback while there’s still time to improve the results.

The most important thing about solving problems with human-centred design is that it keeps the stakeholders at the heart of the process. Problems are defined and described by the people who deal with them. The research includes consulting individuals with lived experience, testing prototypes of our solutions, and depending on feedback from real stakeholders. Human-centred design is how we put creativity and empathy to work to solve problems.

Guiding Values

Our Purpose

To Build the Village, fostering community and intergenerational connections

 To create a healing environment

To develop collective solutions expanding beyond a Canadian context

Our Process

Gather broad expertise and experiences

Collaborate and be open to new learning

Remember the keys to execution: sharing learning with each other and CMHC and trusting the process

Our Success

Building relationships with each other

Developing an evidence-based plan for moving forward

Delivering an African Canadian housing model

Hitting project milestones

Community Map



One-on-one interviews with a specific set of stakeholders will provide deep insights from those who are well-informed in the areas in which we want to learn. This method will also include quick-burst, street style interviews to reach larger numbers of participants.

These 90-minute online labs are facilitated to mine for specific insights from identified target groups. Groups will include between 12 to 25 participants. Overlap facilitators will guide stakeholders through a sequence of information-seeking activities.

Short online surveys will allow us to reach a large number of stakeholders. They are designed to bolster the ethnographic research and in-person stakeholder engagement by surfacing a large number of responses to validate the qualitative findings across a statistically significant sample size. 

Research trends & insights

We interviewed community leaders on affordable housing as the foundation of a community to uncover the needs of Continental African Canadians. The insights we uncovered express what continental African Canadians need from such a community in 11 key areas:

problem Map

what problems do we need to solve?

future state journey map:

Empathy Map: Yvette

The working group imagined what a fictional older continental African Canadian woman (Yvette) might be experiencing in her everyday life. They imagined the types of hobbies she would enjoy, how she would like to spend her time, her worries and her goals.

see & Do

● Cook

● Sewing

● Errands

● Medications

● Socialize

● Walk in the park

● Read books

● Spend time with


● Visit with


● Struggles with things

she used to find easy


● Aging alone

Good old times

● Sick

● Tired

● Sometimes gets lonely

● Cares about tradition

● Energetic

● Doesn’t want to feel

like a burden

● A healthy meal

say & hear

● I miss the good old

● Need home support

● Make a call to a friend

● Free bus ride day

● News


● Wants to connect with young people

● Go to a senior’s social club

● Safety for

● Worried about aging and constraints

● Accessible and safe around the house

● Remembering old lost friends

● How to get a ride to the shopping malls

● Is there enough space in current home for her family

● Meet more seniors to chat about life

Services Map: Yvette

By empathising with Yvette, the group ideated a series of housing supports and  services that would be beneficial to older continental African Canadians. 

Unit that would accommodate multi-generational family

Accessible bathrooms (emphasis on showers)

Social clubs

Building has a gym

Car/transportation service