Housing Quality Index

Housing Quality Index (HQI) – Assessing housing quality in rooming houses

Developed by the Institute of Urban Studies (2015)

Access the HQI by clicking on this link –  OHQS FInal RH and SRO Final Template.

Assessments are done using the Objective Housing Quality Scale (OHQS) rating system. The OHQS was originally developed and deployed in five Canadian cities as part of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s At Home/Chez Soi project. Field testing in rooming houses in West Broadway resulted in minor adaptions of the OHQS for greater clarity.

The objective is to assess the quality of a rooming house to The OHQS has two main purposes:

  1. To assist clients with looking for housing, and in making an informed decision related to rooming houses and SROs
  2. To assist community groups in determining if a particular rooming house qualifies for Housing First supports or other subsidies.

Measuring Housing Quality

Housing quality is linked to a person’s health and well-being. By measuring housing quality, a rating scale is established for housing first interventions and other housing supports. There are “shades of grey” in the housing quality of rooming houses and SROs, and this instrument is an effective tool in better understanding the quality of a place. 


Why Rooming Houses?

Rooming houses can offer a sense of community for residents. They are a desirable and convenient option for many individuals, and are often more affordable than an apartment in the private market. Good quality rooming houses are recognized as an important housing option in West Broadway, and Winnipeg.


Using the OHQS

Rating a rooming house with the OHQS involves an on-site visit by someone trained in the OHQS who take a detailed look at the individual unit(s) (including items such as fire safety, heating, appliances, lighting) and the property overall (including items such as condition of surfaces, bathrooms, garbage facilities, and green space). There are a total of 27 rating items in the OHQS instrument. Together, they are used to develop an overall rating of the housing quality.

Note – The OHQS is not a building inspection, and this instrument is not intended to be a substitute for inspections conducted by experts.


Assessing the rating

Some rooming houses may score very high in some rating items, and very low in others. But “good” rooming houses will rate higher than “bad” ones overall, and should fall within a range identified in the pilot project. Other housing types, such as apartments, self-contained suites in a converted dwelling, and SRO hotels will generally fall within a range.

There may be “red flag” items that fall outside of the rating, such as serious pest infestation or safety issues. These should be noted and considered in addition to the final score.