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 March, 2009
Feature: Second National Homelessness Conference Issues Call for Action
During the second national homelessness conference – Growing Home: Housing and Homelessness in Canada – February 18, 19 and 20, participants heard a dire warning as the Canadian economy is hit by the global recession.
Homelessness in this country is soaring as the economy sinks.
Beric German, from Street Health in Toronto, said during the conference at the University of Calgary that an “incredible crisis” is now unfolding across the country.
“The recession is going to change all of our lives in some fashion, and for people on lower income or who become unemployed, this can mean homelessness,” German said. “This is the time for us to act.”
The situation is being fueled by escalating job losses, inadequate employment and welfare benefits and a deficient national housing strategy, German said.
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley told the gathering that the government has committed $2 billion—announced in the recent federal budget—to help renovate and build affordable housing. As a condition, however, Ottawa has asked the provinces to match the $2 billion investment.
In a recent interview with CanWest News Service, the minister said that the federal dollars for social housing is a “one-off investment” that should not be interpreted as the launch of a new long-term national housing policy. The minister said the decision to spend $2 billion over two years to improve and expand the social housing stock in Canada should be viewed through the economic-stimulus prism.
Although Canada is the only major country in the world without a national housing plan, Finley said there is no policy shift to embrace a larger federal role in social housing.
Over 700 front-line workers, academics and policy-makers attended the three-day conference, Growing Home: Housing and Homelessness in Canada, to address the causes and develop solutions for homelessness. The first national housing and homelessness conference was held in Toronto in May 2005.
On the final day of the conference February 20 2009, the delegates unanimously backed a resolution that calls on the federal government to remove the restrictions that it has imposed on the affordable housing investments. They also called on the federal government to increase its housing and homelessness funding. And delegates also agreed to a framework for developing a new national voice on housing and homelessness issues.
Community Spotlight: Choices for Youth in St. John’s to Open New Building
St. John's, NL
With the support of the federal and provincial governments, Choices for Youth’s Lilly Building Project in St. John’s, Newfoundland will soon fill a significant housing gap within the city for homeless youth. The project will combine 14 safe affordable housing units with on-site support, a basic literacy and math skill program, and an employment preparation program.
The aim of the project is to take a multi-faceted, holistic approach to recurring homelessness by removing lifestyle, housing, educational and employment barriers. Youth will be supported in learning the skills to live independently and securing opportunities to make healthier lifestyles more sustainable.
The Lilly Building is a former manufacturer’s warehouse purchased by Choices For Youth in 2007. In order to achieve a creative, innovative building design that reflected and met the needs of the youth and the program goals, Choices for Youth engaged in a design charrette process. The future vision for the project is to incorporate a social enterprise which would provide youth with much-needed hands-on employment experiences and financial sustainability.
Since the renovation and construction of the Lilly Building began, in September 2008, ten youth have been learning construction skills as they work alongside contractors and trades people. The youth were referred to Choices through various programs across the city and received safety and basic construction training at the Carpenters Millwrights College.
“Through all the programs at Choices, we recognize that youth need safe, affordable housing and opportunities to support themselves through employment,” said Sheldon Pollett, Executive Director of Choices for Youth. “This new affordable housing facility will enable an extremely vulnerable population of youth to make sustainable long-term changes in their lives.”
Once completed in the Spring, the facility will provide 14 one and two-bedroom apartments, along with programming and office space. One of the apartments will be completely wheelchair accessible.
News Briefs: New on Raising the Roof’s Shared Learnings on Homelessness Website
Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, provides comprehensive and accessible sexual and reproductive health services in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental manner, for women and men of all ages.
YMCA House & Housing Initiatives, in Toronto, Ontario. The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charity offering opportunities for personal growth, community involvement and leadership.
Investments Needed Now to Meet Poverty Reduction Targets
Ontario’s Liberal government tabled legislation aimed at reducing child poverty by 25 percent within the next five years. Making poverty reduction the law in Ontario is an important step towards achieving a poverty-free Ontario, says the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction. But government must also “take concrete next steps that extend poverty reduction targets to all Ontarians over the next decade, and to make investments now to meet its initial target.”
Supporting Our Sisters
“Supporting our Sisters” Educational Conference, On Sexual Exploitation for First Nations Youth and Young People involved in sex trade, is planned for March 12-13 in Vancouver. For registration send email to email@example.com.
Gay Homeless Youth
Gay youth are disproportionately represented among homeless youth, according to a new study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness in the U.S. The study found that approximately 20 percent of homeless youth self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer (LGBTQ)—and that is a conservative estimate, researchers suggest. Researchers found that homeless LGBTQ youth are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse than their heterosexual peers and the social service safety net is, in many communities, nonexistent. More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth report family rejection as the primary cause of their homelessness. Homeless LGBTQ youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide, then their heterosexual peers.