The Housing Again Bulletin, sponsored by Raising the Roof as a partner in Housing Again.
A monthly electronic bulletin highlighting what people are doing to put housing back on the public agenda across Canada and around the world, sponsored by Raising the Roof as part of the Housing Again partnership.
News for September, 2005
WICA Helps People Stay in Their Homes
West Island Citizen Advocacy—WICA—in Pointe-Claire, Quebec received $30,000 recently from the federal and provincial governments to hire a community worker who will help new tenants of a housing project integrate and settle into their new homes. The funding will assist people at risk of homelessness by keeping them in their homes as part of the “l’Île des amis 2” housing project. WICA, a non-profit charitable organization, helps care for people with social integration problems by pairing them with citizen volunteers and has already made a name for itself in its community as a result of its vision, leadership and management.
Founded in 1976, WICA has helped bring about 460 pairings, which have aided seniors, people with intellectual and physical disabilities, and people living with mental health problems.
“This project will help approximately 15 socially and financially disadvantaged people who are at risk of homelessness,” said Mary Clare Tanguay, director of WICA. “Our job is to support them during this transition period and to promote their long-term stability and integration into the community.”
“It may be something as simple as taking someone out to lunch or spending quality time with a person who may need a friend,” Tanguay said. “Volunteering with WICA benefits not only our proteges, but our advocates as well.”
In July 2003, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec signed a cooperation agreement regarding the SCPI and the Regional Homelessness Fund. This agreement respects the jurisdictions, policies and priorities of both governments with regard to homelessness. A joint management committee oversees the coordination of this agreement and is supported in its work by an advisory committee composed of representatives from both levels of government and from community organizations.
Housing Again has learned that the annual federal-provincial-territorial housing ministers’ meeting has been scheduled near Halifax on September 22-23 to discuss the new housing framework. However, the meeting location—about an hour and a half outside of Halifax—has posed some travel difficulties for both ministers and advocates. Although housing advocates were initially notified that the usual stakeholder consultation during the meeting was cancelled, it appears the meeting—although the time allocated is shorter than what has been offered in the past—is back on the agenda.
“It was always out intention to meet with stakeholders as they are a vital resource to the ministry,” Federal Housing Minister Joe Fontana told Housing Again.
The meeting is scheduled on September 22 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. – the first hour is set aside to meet with Aboriginal leaders and the second hour with other housing advocates. The location may be changed to be more accommodating, promised Minister Fontana.
The ministers responsible for housing meet each year to help the federal government address a range of housing needs across Canada. The meeting is held in the province of the co-chair of the bi-lateral co-ordinating committee—Nova Scotia’s Housing Minister David Morse co-chairs the group this year along with Minister Fontana.
Advocates are hoping to use the opportunity to press the federal government to forward the additional housing dollars in Bill C-48 (the NDP-Liberal budget deal) to municipalities without delay. According to the deal struck between NDP Leader Jack Layton and Prime Minister Paul Martin, the additional money is contingent on the government having a surplus in the budget. New predictions, however, suggest that there will be more than enough surplus in the budget.
Housing advocates across the country have also been sent invitations to sit on a National Housing Advisory Board. Its first meeting is scheduled for October 3 in Ottawa.
At the federal-provincial-territorial housing ministers’ meeting last November, the ministers agreed that future collaboration with the federal government would be guided by a set of proposed principles. These included taking a “comprehensive approach to housing through a continuum of shelter and related services.” The continuum included building new housing, rent subsidies and supplements, supportive housing and repairing existing housing stock.
The federal government has released a discussion document on the housing framework, which National Housing and Homelessness Network Co-chair Michael Shapcott says contains a running list of all recommendations and suggestions heard during the consultations held earlier this year. Some housing advocates have raised concerns that the new framework will not be as comprehensive as once thought.
“The document posted by the federal government does not give us a sense of what direction the housing framework will take or what it would look like,” Shapcott said. “We need to see capital subsidies for new affordable housing, rehabilitation for abandoned and sub-standard buildings, rent-geared-to-income assistance for low-income households, and support services for those who need help accessing and maintaining their homes.”
The ministers meeting later this month follows a recent Ontario announcement made by Minister Fontana, Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Gerretsen, who is expected to take a lead at the meeting, Association of Municipalities of Ontario president Roger Anderson and Toronto mayor David Miller. The group signed a memorandum of understanding on the allocation of $402 million in federal and provincial housing dollars.
CMHC’s External Research Program is offering funding assistance to help Canadian researchers carry out research investigations on topics related to housing. The intent of the program is to encourage and draw out new ideas, innovative solutions, and better understanding of housing issues. ERP grants, which may be up to $25,000, are available for a limited number of research projects each year. Once the research studies are completed, CMHC will publish and disseminate the results through the Canadian Housing Information Centre www.cmhc.ca/en/library/index.cfm. Applications must be sent in by midnight October 31, 2005.
Eva’s Innovation Awards Launched
As part of their National Initiative Program, Eva’s Initiatives is launching its first Innovation Awards with the generous support of CIBC, to recognize the incredible work being done by organizations across Canada in assisting homeless youth.
Based on the experience in developing Eva’s Phoenix, the staff and Board at Eva’s Initiatives know that awards and citations draw attention to innovative programs and can assist greatly in building partnerships and securing funding. Each community has different needs and different approaches to meeting those needs, but one common fact remains – virtually all communities across Canada, large and small, are struggling to provide effective support to help homeless youth become self-sufficient.
The Innovation Awards will be granted to three organizations that:
§ Demonstrate innovation in delivering services to homeless youth;
§ Successfully use partnerships to develop, implement or operate services;
§ Deliver services that help youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to achieve greater self-sufficiency and reduce their chances of experiencing homelessness in the future;
§ Offer services that integrate two or more of the following: housing, education, vocational training, employment, health and addictions supports, life skills, or other interventions aimed at assisting homeless and at-risk youth to become self-sufficient.
A seven-member panel will review the submissions and select the winners. This review panel is made up of individuals from across Canada who are knowledgeable about services for homeless individuals. Applications are due by October 28, 2005 and are available online at www.evasinitiatives.com starting September 12. For more information contact: Deborah Hierlihy, Project Coordinator – Eva’s Innovation Awards (firstname.lastname@example.org).