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 April, 2006
Kelowna Downtown Youth Centre
One of this year’s winners is Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, for their Kelowna Downtown Youth Centre located in a converted heritage two-storey elementary school. The centre provides one-stop coordinated service for young people (ages 13 to 18) who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, said Mike Gawliuk, Area Director, Youth and Family Services. The centre looks for specific community outcomes when assessing program effectiveness, Gawliuk said, such as a reduction in an open street drug scene; increased referrals to alcohol and drug treatment services; improved public order; reduced risk to individuals at large; and enhanced public safety and security. During the day, youth can access food, clothing, hygiene supplies, showers, laundry facilities, storage, a phone and computer, counselling and information sessions, job search programs, a message centre, recreation opportunities and community resources. The program operates five days per week from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. At night, the centre is designed to be a safe, no barrier overnight and temporary shelter, specifically for youth ages 13 to 18 years, which is open 7 days a week. Youth come into the centre at 8:00 p.m. and leave at 8:00 a.m. The program also operates during the day on weekends. The gym area is partitioned to accommodate male and female youth in safe, separate, sleeping environments. Showers and laundry are also available. The shelter works in conjunction with the day services to provide a full range of supports to youth who are at-risk or are homeless. The evening shelter is the first stage in a multi-stage approach to transitional housing for youth, complemented by a full range of off site residential services. A variety of on site programs provide wraparound service and support to meet the needs of youth. These include street outreach; parent and teen mediation; mental health outreach; youth employment and training services; a self-help group for parents; family and youth counselling; and a restorative justice program as an alternative to the courts for minor offences. In addition, addictions workers as well as social services staff from government, the local school board and community agencies visit the centre and work with the youth individually or in groups. The centre has partnerships with faith groups, service clubs, retailers, and non-profit and community service organizations. It also has support from the corporate sector, all levels of government, the judicial system, and the educational community.
B.C. Signs Agreement to Transfer Housing Administration
On June 19, Federal Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Diane Finley and B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman signed an agreement to transfer the administration of social housing resources from the federal government to the B.C. government. The provinces of Quebec and Alberta are now the only two provinces that have not signed an agreement. For more information: www.bchousing.org
Coalition Requests Immediate Action to Implement $1.6 Billion
The National Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, of which Raising the Roof and many others are signatories, has sent a letter to Federal Minister of Human Resources and Social Development also responsible for housing (CMHC) Diane Finley and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to request immediate action to implement the $1.6 billion affordable housing fund authorized by Parliament in June of 2005.
“The latest rental market report from CMHC confirms that Canada continues to face a nation-wide affordable housing crisis,” read the letter, which was signed by Raising the Roof President Sean Goetz-Gadon. “The desperate conditions facing hundreds of thousands of Canadian households underline the urgency in allocating the funding approved by Parliament. Business and community organizations are in agreement that investment in affordable housing is good for people, good for communities and good for the economy.”
The NCHH believes that Aboriginal funding should be set aside for Aboriginal housing providers, on and off-reserve. The best available mechanism for allocating the remainder of the funding is the existing bilateral housing agreements signed by the federal government and every province and territory under the terms of the Affordable Housing Framework Agreement of November 2001.
The coalition is recommending that funding be allocated to the provinces and territories on a per capita basis, and that the provinces and territories use the funding to create long-term solutions to reduce homelessness, lower the number of households in core housing need, and address other affordable housing issues. The accountability framework and communications protocol in the existing framework can be used to ensure proper accountability for the federal housing dollars.
“We believe that this approach will be strongly supported by the provinces.”
“At the local level, municipal governments, community partners and business organizations are ready to participate in the social and affordable housing solutions, but they need the Parliamentary housing funding to start flowing.”
The letter ends with an offer from representatives of the NCHH to meet with the Ministers to discuss in detail the proposals for implementing the affordable housing funding approved by Parliament. www.raisingtheroof.org
Other signatories to the letter include: Joyce Potter (Canadian Housing Renewal Association), Cathy Crowe (Toronto Disaster Relief Committee), Deborah Schlichter (Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association), David Seymour (National Aboriginal Housing Association), Carol Hunter (Canadian Co-operative Association), René Daoust (Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada), Michael Shapcott (National Housing and Homelessness Network), Paulette Halupa (National Anti Poverty Organization), Maylanne Maybee (The Anglican Church of Canada), Jim Marshall (The United Church of Canada), and Laurel Rothman (Campaign 2000) and Fransois Saillant (FRAPRU).
Celebrating Outstanding Work with Homeless Youth
In last month’s issue of Housing Again, it was announced that HA, in partnership with Raising the Roof, would be presenting a series of profiles of youth serving agencies as a part of the Youthworks initiative. The profile that follows is the second in a series of articles to profile agencies that are doing important work to help homeless and at-risk youth.As part of its National Initiative Program, Eva’s Initiatives launched 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. These awards are being 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 become self-sufficient. Each winning organization receives a prize of $3,000, presented at an awards ceremony in their community. www.evasinitiatives.com/initiative.htm One of this year’s winners is Mères et Monde in Québec City. Mères et Monde is a residential and community centre which aims to prevent transience among young mothers and their infants, develop their ability to be independent, break the social isolation experienced by young parents, and encourage social and labour force integration. The centre brings together 23 units of social housing, community services and training, and an early childhood centre with space for 18 children and opportunities for respite care, and care for children while the mothers are tending to family responsibilities outside the home or attending training programs. Participation in the training programs or use of the centre is not limited to women who live in the social housing units. The training programs involve assisting the participants to develop a life plan aimed at overcoming social exclusion and poverty, and facilitating their entry into the adult education centre where the women can obtain school credits. Once enrolled in the training, participants receive a monthly allowance for the duration of the course as well as reimbursement of child care and travel costs as needed.Mères et Monde operates from the principles of empowerment and partnerships, with programs and opportunities adapted to the realities and needs of the mothers attending the centre. The centre is run from a model of participatory management, with the young mothers sitting on committees (including finance, human resources, staff hiring and evaluation committees), in addition to forming the majority on the board of directors.
Ontario Budget 2006
The Ontario Budget 2006 is “long on rhetoric and short on concrete promises to help the poor” says the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. Although the budget contained no new funding for social housing, there was a provision to create the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Initiative to assist developers of affordable housing with low-cost, long-term financing for new rental and supportive housing units. www.ontariobudget.ca
Study Finds BC Welfare Rules Contributing to Homelessness
A major study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) finds that BC’s welfare system is systematically discouraging, delaying and denying assistance to many of the people most in need of help, with harmful consequences for some of the province’s most vulnerable residents, including homelessness.
“Denied Assistance: Closing the Front Door on Welfare in BC” examines why the number of people receiving welfare has plummeted in the wake of changes to eligibility rules and the application system, and looks at what is happening to people who seek and are denied welfare. It is the first in-depth assessment of the new application system, drawing on data obtained through Freedom of Information requests and extensive interviews with people who have applied for welfare, front-line community advocates and ministry workers.
Bruce Wallace, researcher with the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group, which undertook the study with CCPA, said the research found that many people are being diverted to homelessness, and other forms of hardship. www.policyalternatives.ca