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Community Design - Housing

Housing is more than just shelter. It includes the physical structure as well as the social and psychological aspects of the home, the physical area around the building and the social characteristics and services in the neighbourhood.1


Mixed Housing

A neighbourhood with a mix of housing types is inclusive and provides quality housing for different kinds of people, income levels and life stages.1 2 Having a mix of housing options along with other measures can support 'aging in place' which provides a way for a person to remain in their community as long as possible and continue to be a productive member.3

Mixed housing can help reduce social isolation and increase:

  • social connectedness
  • safety
  • positive mental health
  • health equity

Examples of mixed housing:

  • single detached homes
  • semi-detached homes
  • multi-unit residential (apartments, townhomes, condominiums)

Housing Density

Communities that are compact and have different types of housing units located close to each other can better support nearby placement of:

  • shops
  • schools
  • banks
  • cafes
  • libraries
  • grocery stores
  • employment
  • public transit

Compact communities provide advantages over communities that are spread out because they encourage active transportation such as walking, cycling and public transit use which is good for overall health, safety and the environment.4

Date of creation: November 24, 2016
Last modified on: February 23, 2017


1Toronto Public Health. (2011). Healthy Toronto by Design. Retrieved from
2Canadian Institute of Planners. (2014). Healthy Communities Practice Guide. Retrieved from
3Atlanta Regional Commission and Community Housing Resource Centre. (n.d.). Aging in Place: A Toolkit for Local Governments. Retrieved from
4Toronto Public Health, City of Toronto Planning, City of Toronto Transportation Services and Gladki Planning Associates. (May 2014). Active City: Designing for Health. Retrieved from