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 July, 2007
Facing up to the Crisis of Homelessness
Toronto photographer Edward Gajdel, an internationally acclaimed portrait artist, has created masterpieces out of an impressive list of famous faces for magazines around the world. Now he has lent his considerable talents to the clients of 6 St. Joseph House, a community centre committed to helping people who are at a crossroads in their lives develop more creative and compassionate ways of responding to the challenges of livelihood and homelessness. Gajdel and his subjects are putting a face to homelessness—a human face beyond the tragic visions we see everyday.
“Living in Toronto it is impossible to ignore the homeless,” Gajdel told Housing Again during a visit to his gallery in the arts district in the Queen West Village. “It bothered me a lot and I knew I wanted to do something.”
“But I had no interest in doing the typical photographs of the homeless on park benches and sleeping on grates. I wanted to contribute in a way that honoured their lives,” he said.
The creation of these intimate portraits was inspired by the dreams of David Walsh and Sister Susan Moran, co-founders of 6 St Joseph House. In collaboration with Gajdel, Yasmin Glanville and Karena Phidd of Creative Transition Resources Inc. put forward the idea of producing photographic portraits that honour the individuals that have stood up to their livelihood challenges and have found ways to contribute to the well-being of others.
The extraordinary portraits were displayed at a “Be Inspired” fundraising event last year at the Gladstone Hotel. And earlier this year, Toronto Image Works Gallery presented Gajdel’s portraits, which he says, honour “compassion and transformation.”
Dr. Melissa Metnitzer, from Parkdale Community Health Centre’s Homeless Initiative, was so moved by the exhibit she is determined to find a way to turn it into an ongoing initiative and expand the project.
“At the end of life, everyone wants to leave a legacy,” she said. “This project honours their life—tells their personal story in a way that reflects who they really are.”
Although Gajdel has always understood the healing power of art, he said there were unexpected consequences during the photo shoots, which evolved over many hours with each participant.
“Healing happens in many different ways. It was amazing to see the impact the experience had with each person as we worked to capture their inner spirit,” Gajdel said. “But I couldn’t believe how much love was reflected back to me.”
“We were all so moved by the outpouring of emotion when the portraits were revealed. It was a very intimate, moving experience,” he said. “I was honoured to be part of it.”
“I want to honour these heroes like we do celebrities,” Gajdel said.
2007 Innovation Award Finalist Quint Development Corporation
In this second year of Eva’s Initiatives Award for Innovation, which is sponsored by CIBC, three winners were recognized for their outstanding and unique work with homeless youth. Each winning organization received a prize of $5,000. Eva’s Initiatives also selected another five as finalists, including the Quint Development Corporation’s Male Youth Lodge in Saskatoon. Quint Development Corporation was created to strengthen the economic and social well-being of Saskatoon’s five core neighbourhoods through a community based economic development approach. Quint, meaning five in Latin, represents the communities of Caswell Hill, King George, Pleasant Hill, Riversdale and Westmount.In 1995, community representatives from the five neighbourhoods formed a CED organization through which they work to improve its neighbourhoods, as well as their own lives. Community residents form at least three quarters of Quint’s board of directors, including appointed representatives from the five community associations. Quint saw the development of a service for young men as a much needed and complimentary next step in its efforts to provide housing alternatives in the core neighbourhoods because transitional and emergency housing for young men was identified as one of the highest priorities in Saskatoon’s Community Plan for Housing and Homelessness. The doors to Quint’s Male Youth Lodge opened in January 2003. The hostel, which is in a previously “stressed” building renovated to help improve the community, provides safe, secure transitional housing for up to 10 young males 16 to 22 years old who need a place to stay. Wherever possible, the residents are linked to education, training, and employment opportunities and are given practical assistance such as getting ID and social insurance numbers. By having round-the-clock staffing, the lodge has been able to provide safe and appropriate housing combined with the support necessary to help at-risk young men make changes in their lives for the better. Staff works hard to ensure that the young men are comfortable, that they really think of the Lodge as their home. “This home is truly about change for the young men.”
Toronto Seeks Best Practices to Build 10-Year Affordable Housing Plan
Toronto Mayor David Miller kicked off an affordable housing public forum on June 28 that included municipal experts from Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa, along with local stakeholders. The goal of the forum was to generate ideas for best practices to help guide a 10-year Affordable Housing Framework (2008-2018). Toronto will release the framework in the fall followed by a comprehensive affordable housing plan in early 2008, said Raising the Roof Chair Sean Gadon, who is also the Partnership Director for the City of Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office.
Toronto anti-poverty activist Cathy Crowe, who is studying homelessness through a grant form the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, launched her new book, “Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out.”
“This book is even more impressive because Crowe and her fellow activists managed to pull this off in the midst of the immense crisis they live everyday,” said activist and actress Sarah Polley. “Required reading for anyone concerned about the ongoing emergency of homelessness.”
Susan Scott interviewed more than 60 women in major centres across the country for her new book. All Our Sisters, Stories of Homeless Women in Canada, published by Broadview Press, explores the reality of women who have nowhere safe to lay their heads at night, while framing the words of the women within a political context.
“After listening to the women and looking at government policy, it’s very clear that women are homeless for reasons beyond their control—such as lack of affordable and safe housing for them and their children,” said Scott. “As well, appropriate help is often difficult to access and inconsistently administered.”
For more information on how to obtain copies of these books, please click on the above links.