Poverty in many big cities is a major issue that needs to be addressed. Big urban centers offer low-income people a wide range of social services that are not found as readily in smaller cities (Scoffield, 2011). For example, in bigger cities there are reliable services such as food banks, and services for single parents (Scoffield, 2011). Immigrants, who tend to have low-income, often move to large urban centers as well (Scoffield, 2011). There are a variety of ways that poverty can be dealt with, such as creating practical living wage jobs, employment equity, and affordable low-income housing (White, 2012). The creation of low-income housing in particular is of great importance in reducing poverty levels in large cities, such as Hamilton. In many slums in big cities, the poor have very limited access to essential services, sometimes even electricity and water (Joshi-Ghani, 2014). Creating affordable homes with good access to essential services and amenities will help to provide a better life for low-income citizens.
Sites for low-income homes must be ideally located to provide the best possible lifestyle for low-income individuals and families, while still being affordable. There are many types of factors that must be taken into consideration when finding suitable sites: social, environmental, and economic. Access to basic commodities and services such as grocery stores, schools, and medical clinics are important factors when siting homes (Kearney, 2003). As well, proximity to services such as police stations and fire departments should be taken into consideration as there are often high rates of crime in regions with low-income (Ackermann & Murray, 2004). Furthermore, there are often areas that cannot be built upon for varying reasons. An example of such a region is environmentally sensitive areas, which have important ecological functions that should not be disturbed (“Environmental Impact”, 2017). Affordable housing should be built in suitable locations to meet these basic requirements (Kearney, 2003).
There have been many studies which have proven the effectiveness of geographic information systems (GIS) when siting new housing developments. A GIS is an ideal tool that can be used to site new affordable housing in optimal locations within cities (Kearney, 2003). They can be used to help provide much needed access to schools, public transit, medical clinics, supermarkets and other necessities to low-income individuals and families (Kearney, 2003). For example, multi-criteria evaluations (MCE’s) have been used to great success in the field of urban planning (Malczewski, 2004). One study presented a multi-criteria framework for accessibility analysis for housing development in Singapore (Xhu et al. 2005). This was created by combining multi-criteria analysis techniques with GIS-based accessibility assessment models (Xhu et al. 2005). Eight important prioritized criteria for residents, such as access to shopping centers and parks, was analyzed using an extension of ArcView called Accessibility Analyst (Xhu et al. 2005). This created an accessibility surface for all of the criteria, which were then weighted (Xhu et al. 2005). This measured the accessibility of criteria such as access to public transport and access to shopping centers (Hub et al. 2005). These eight surfaces were then combined into one overall accessibility surface (Hub et al. 2005). The results showed that the zones with the highest accessibility to the eight criteria were limited to ten of the 256 total zones, which were mainly located at the east and west areas of the study area (Xhu et al. 2005). These results were used to select suitable locations for the development of new housing in Singapore (Xhu et al. 2005). Similar use of MCE’s will be helpful in the identification of locations for affordable housing in other cities, and for the reduction of poverty levels in general.
Purpose of the Research
The purpose of this research is to locate areas that are suitable for establishing low-income housing developments within the City of Hamilton using a GIS based multi-criteria evaluation.
1. To identify variables or factors related to siting low-income housing developments.
2. To develop a GIS-based MCE model to site low-income housing sites.
3. To apply an MCE to select the most suitable low-income housing site for development.
4. To evaluate the strengths and limitations of this model.