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 November, 2008
Feature: Economic Uncertainty No Excuse for Inaction on Poverty Reduction Plans
The unprecedented volatility of global markets and extreme fragility of giant financial institutions are casting long shadows on Canada and Ontario, economists Arthur Donner, Mike McCracken and Armine Yalnizyan wrote in a recent editorial in the Toronto Star. They argue that it is crucial for governments to take action on poverty reduction during ailing economic fortunes.
But they worry that a slowing economy, insufficient provincial revenues and lack of federal support will encourage provincial governments to retreat on the timing for poverty reduction goals. An ailing economy, however, is no “excuse for inaction.”
“As economists, we believe the exact opposite is in order,” they wrote. “Now is the very time to act – and there are several well-founded economic reasons why we cannot afford to delay action against economic insecurity.”
The present situation demands immediate “counter-cyclical measures” that can trigger an economic stimulus. This stimulus package should look to the economy’s greatest foot soldiers: “local consumer power.”
“The best and cheapest poverty reduction strategy is to move swiftly with investments on affordable housing, education and training, early learning and child care, public transit, income supports and jobs that pay living wages.”
In spite of the economic woes, a new poll shows the majority of people believe Canada should try to distinguish itself in the world as a country where no one lives in poverty. According to the Environics Research poll conducted for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), a possible recession has not weakened “Canadians desire for their governments to act on poverty and inequality reduction is not weakened but emboldened,” said Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist with CCPA. “They want governments that will do them proud, at home and around the world.”
The recent national poll revealed:
• 90 % of Canadians say they would be proud if their premier took the lead in reducing poverty in their province;
• 88 % want Canada to be a leader in poverty reduction;
• 77 % said a recession is “all the more reason to act now.”
• 90% said it’s time for strong leadership to reduce the number of poor people;
• 92% said if countries like Great Britain and Sweden can do it, so can Canada;
• 86% believe if government took concrete action, poverty could be greatly reduced;
• 89% said the Prime Minister and Premiers need to set concrete targets and timelines to reduce poverty and measure their progress;
• 81% support reducing poverty by at least 25% over the next five years; 55% said that sounds about right but another quarter (26%) said that’s not ambitious enough.
The poll also found resounding majority support to raise the minimum wage, improve income support programs to help poor families raising children, create low-cost child care spaces, create more affordable housing, make sure welfare rates rise with the cost of living, and invest in jobs and skills training for those in between jobs.
Other news on poverty reduction in the face of a possible recession:
• Rabble News
• Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition
• Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction
• Poverty Watch Ontario
• The Tyee
• 25 in 5 Network
• Old Brewery Mission
Community Spotlight: Youth Homelessness Conference—a Catalyst for Information Sharing
Youth Homelessness Conference—a Catalyst for Information Sharing
The Partners Solving Youth Homelessness conference is just around the corner and the agenda promises to be exciting and informative. The event is being held November 19 – 21, 2008 at the Holiday Inn on King Street in Toronto. Hosted by Raising the Roof, in conjunction with a Conference Steering Committee that represents youth and youth-serving agencies across Canada, this groundbreaking event will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to give input into a National Strategy to Solve Youth Homelessness, to be released in 2009.
Participants will have the opportunity to go on site tours; attend best practices workshops, including Jamie Van Leeuwen, the Project Manager of Denver’s Road Home project; and hear from keynote speakers like Miloon Kothari. They will also learn from expert panels, including one on the latest research related to youth homelessness and another with youth from across Canada who will share their personal experiences of homelessness as well as insights into which supports and services are working, which aren’t and where the gaps lie.
One of the presenters on the youth panel is Daniel Diment, Special Project Manager and past participant of Street Culture Kidz Project Inc. (Regina). Street Culture creates programs and activities to assist in the development of social, personal and employment skills. Young people between 15 and 29 have access to team building, social entrepreneurial ventures and social outings, up to seven days per week. Through outreach programming, an additional 100 children under the age of 14 are offered after school craft and recreational programming.
The mandate of the unique project is to create environments where participants, volunteers and mentors can choose to strengthen their personal support networks, advance personal skills and abilities, and contribute to community activities and cultural initiatives.
“We work with at-risk youth in order for them to gain employability,” said Diment. “Our job squads go to people’s yards and mow their lawns if they can’t and in the winter we do snow removal.” Street Culture also goes to schools to speak about gangs and youth share their experiences, he added.
Other panellists include:
• Christine Devries, a member of the Youth Advisory Council, Broadway Youth Resource Centre (Vancouver), a grassroots collaboration between nine social service agencies, three levels of government, a university and a college. Broadway is a recipient of an Award of Innovation.
• Tyler Johnson, a member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet and Executive Director of Youth Parliament of Canada.
• And Alicia Jones, youth volunteer, SIDA/AIDS Moncton Inc., NB, which also received an Award of Innovation.
NEWS BRIEFS: New on Raising the Roof’s Shared Learnings on Homelessness Website
Salvation Army Wiseman Centre, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
The Wiseman Centre provides emergency shelter and supportive housing for homeless men through a holistic client-centred approach that promotes independence and improves well-being.
Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is committed to a sustainable social service system that promotes the independence, self-reliance, and security of the people we serve. This will be achieved through excellence in service delivery, leadership and collaboration with our partners
Lifting the Energy Burden Teleforum
Canadian Housing Renewal Association (CHRA) will host its first Teleforum of the season on November 13, from Noon – 1:30 p.m. The teleforum, Lifting the Energy Burden, is a great opportunity to connect with others working in the affordable housing sector and hear new ideas on issues relevant to your work. This teleforum will be a follow-up to the Time for Action conference held in Toronto this past October building on the 2005 Halifax Symposium held by CHRA.
Films Show Impact of Homelessness
Sky Works Charitable Foundation; The Centre for Urban and Community Studies, Cities Centre at the University of Toronto; Institute for Life Course and Aging and The Wellesley Institute will present the national premiere of Home Safe Calgary on November 6 at 6:00 p.m. This feature-length documentary will be premiered for an invited audience at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W., Toronto. Home Safe Calgary is the first of four films in the Sky Works Home Safe Project, which will show Canadians the profound impact of poverty and homelessness on a growing number of our country’s families and children.