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 October, 2009
Feature: Economy Accelerates Need for National Housing Plan
Sky Works Charitable Foundation will launch the national premiere of Home Safe Toronto on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at the Revue Cinema in Toronto. This feature-length documentary is the second in the Home Safe series exploring how families live with the threat and the experience of homelessness.
The film explores the housing crisis in Canada as a consequence of the economic turbulence that has devastated the manufacturing sector - and worker job security - in Ontario. The restructuring of the economy and the depletion of household incomes have been going on for years, but this trend has accelerated during the recent economic downturn, the filmmakers say.
“The footprint of this recession will last for years to come,” said director/producer Laura Sky.
“It’s become clear that we cannot talk about homelessness without factoring in what’s happening to our jobs in this economy. In this film, we decided to show what this new economy looks like for families who are working, but finding it increasingly hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.”
“Governments always say that they prioritize the health and well-being of families and children,” said Cathy Crowe, Street Nurse and Executive Producer. “This film about homeless families tells another story. It is time for the federal government to bring back a national housing program.”
Three of Canada’s four political parties in Parliament would like to do just that—– MP Libby Davies (NDP) has introduced Bill C-304, a private member’s bill that would incorporate Canada’s international housing rights obligations into Canadian law and create a long-overdue and much-needed national housing plan.
Members of Parliament from the Liberal Party and Bloc Quebecois spoke during second reading debate recently in support of the plan.
Although a Conservative MP who spoke during the debate said his party supports the idea of a national housing plan, they don’t like the NDP bill.
While MPs debate the need for a national housing strategy, the filmmakers will take Home Safe Toronto on a tour across the country with project participants for community screenings and workshops. The documentary is available for use by educational institutions, community groups and activists and is part of a tool kit of materials to help plan local strategies for action and change.
Funding for Home Safe Toronto was provided by: Canadian Nurses Foundation, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Jackman Foundation, Henry White Kinnear Foundation, The Law Foundation of Ontario, Arnold Massey and Jane Stodgell, The McLean Foundation and Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.
Home Safe Calgary, the first film in the Sky Works series, premiered in November, 2008. The third instalment, Home Safe Hamilton, is currently in research phase and will focus on the Aboriginal community, newcomers to Canada, and steelworkers and their families.
Community Spotlight: Circus Arts Provide Unique Opportunity for Montreal Youth
Three winners were announced in April for Eva’s Initiatives Award for Innovation for their outstanding work with homeless youth. The Eva’s Initiatives Award for Innovation is generously sponsored by CIBC. The winning organizations, which have been profiled in previous issues of Housing Again, received a prize of $5,000.
One of this year’s short-listed entries was Cactus Montréal, an organization working with addicts and others who are at risk of infectious diseases, in particular AIDS and Hepatitis C. The community-based organization focuses on unique activities and services aimed at prevention, education, engagement, support, advocacy and safeguarding rights. Its mission relates to both the individual and the community. Services include: needle exchange, outreach workers, a place for social interaction, and arts workshops. Cactus has fiduciary and partner responsibility for the Collective Engagement by Peers project, the newspaper L’Injecteur and the project Circus of the World Montreal.
The goal of the circus workshops is to provide youth in difficulty from downtown Montreal and Mount Royal with an opportunity to experience something positive on a personal level, which is a catalyst for increasing self esteem and self identity. Most participants are between 17 and 30 and live with complex issues such as homelessness, addictions and/or mental health problems.
Offered since 1995, the workshops allow youth to create new relationships from the starting point of their marginality in a society that often rejects them. The project was initiated by Cirque du Soleil and Jeunesse du Monde, a Quebec NGO.
“Circus arts require solidarity, complementary efforts and talents of each person and thus are a way for youth to develop a sense of belonging to a group,” said coordinator Karine Lavoie. “Because circus arts leave room for creativity and freedom while demanding tenacity, perseverance, and discipline they are a means for vulnerable youth to blossom and express themselves while daring to surpass themselves physically and socially.”
As part of their National Initiative Program, Eva’s Initiatives has launched the fifth season of the Award for Innovation with continued support from CIBC. The Award for Innovation 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.
Deadline for applications: November 12, 2009 at 9 pm EST. Applications are now available online.
News Briefs: Homeless Living with Legacy of Trauma
On October 7, the City of Toronto is hosting a workshop, Trauma and Homelessness, designed for front-line workers who have clients who are homeless and living the legacy of trauma. They will learn about the techniques, tools and resources that can help homeless clients cope with and contain their trauma reactions as they move towards recovery.
Website Offers Place for Homeless to Connect
Homeless Nation is a website by and for the homeless to set up profiles, blog about their lives or about issues, upload video and audio and share advice, tips and news. Nearly 4,500 people have signed up so far on the site which has won numerous awards including the prestigious 2009 World Summit Award for “e-inclusion and participation” from the United Nations.
Homeless at Higher Risk of H1N1
Advocates in Manitoba are saying that the homeless need to be safeguarded against a potential outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus this flu season. Toronto Public Health (City of Toronto) has a pandemic influenza planning guide for homeless and housing service providers.
Annual Vital Signs Reports Coming
Community foundations in 16 Canadian communities across the country are releasing their annual Vital Signs report cards, aimed at measuring the vitality of their communities, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009. The reports will be posted online.