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, 2010
Feature: US to Deliver a Federal Plan to End Homelessness in May
Raising the Roof, along with other national groups, has been working very hard to encourage the federal government to develop a national housing strategy that includes a unique approach to ending youth homelessness. In the meantime, the Washington-based United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) is in the middle of cross country hearings to develop a Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which will be submitted to Congress and President Barack Obama. The plan, an “urgent” priority of the President, is due May 20, 2010.
The Federal Strategic Plan will serve as a “roadmap for joint action by Council agencies to guide the development of programs and budget proposals towards a set of measurable targets,” said new Executive Director Barbara Poppe, of ICH. “The Federal Strategic Plan will reflect interagency agreement on a set of priorities and strategies the agencies will pursue over a five-year period.”
Shortly after Obama took office, Congress enacted the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, legislation which significantly increased funding and made changes to housing programs. The legislation also requires ICH to develop a federal plan to end homelessness.
A number of national groups focused on ending youth homelessness have already issued recommendations to ICH, including these groups:
The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States, recently released recommendations for the federal plan. Included are three recommendations directed specifically at combating youth homelessness:
• Expand federal investment in youth housing services and infrastructure to serve an additional 50,000 homeless and street-dependent youth annually;
• Offer Congress clear data on the incidence of youth homelessness, research on the extent of long-term homelessness among homeless youth populations, and identification of interventions targeted to specific typologies of homeless youth; and
• Reconfigure the federal homeless youth services system to achieve outcomes related to permanency in family settings, connection to caring adults, and housing stability for unaccompanied homeless youth.
A diverse group of leading national experts in the areas of child welfare and affordable housing joined together to form the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW). NCHCW has issued comments that are focused on best practices and recommendations for preventing homelessness among youth leaving foster care.
The National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness (NPACH) would also like to see efforts focused on building support for funding key interventions that they know are successful at ending homelessness. But since ICH is preparing a plan, NPACH submitted these comments. They urge ICH to move away from “rigid one size fits all typologies of homelessness” that require fixed and unchanging interventions, and instead move towards recognizing that everyone experiencing homelessness, including youth, needs a flexible and customizable package of housing and supportive services.
To let the Canadian government know you support Raising the Roof’s nine recommendation on what can be done to bring about long-term solutions to youth homelessness across Canada and to request that the federal government proclaim an annual National Youth Homelessness Awareness Day as of November 2010, click here.
Community Spotlight: First Nations Youth Need Adequate, Affordable Housing
Bernard Richard, New Brunswick Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, recently released a report, Hand-in-Hand: A Review of First Nations Child Welfare in New Brunswick, which highlighted the desperate need for adequate shelter for First Nations young people. Richard, in his report, also delves into the deep-seated issues affecting First Nations communities, such as poverty, drug addictions, domestic violence, and the erosion of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet cultures and languages.
He recommended that First Nations Chiefs, in collaboration with the New Brunswick Housing Authority and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, fund and develop a provincial action plan regarding the housing stock in First Nations communities, with a particular emphasis on ensuring adequate housing for young families and children.
There was more positive news for First Nations in New Brunswick. The Government of Canada announced an investment of $3.2 million to improve housing conditions in First Nation communities across New Brunswick. The federal government committed $400 million over the next two years to help First Nation communities build needed new housing, repair and remediate existing non-profit housing for their members, and complement housing programs offered by CMHC. This investment will also provide an economic stimulus for many First Nations and surrounding areas by creating jobs.
CMHC will also allocate $2.2 million to retrofit 222 social housing units on-reserve in New Brunswick as well as $991,000 for subsidy associated with nine new housing units. First Nation communities across the province receiving funding include: Burnt Church, Eel Ground, Eel River Bar, Elsipogtog, Fort Folly, Indian Island, Kingsclear, Madawaska Maliseet, Metepenagiag, St. Mary’s, Tobique and Woodstock.
“It is with great pride and excitement that the federal initiative stimulus package along with CMHC, are working with the Elsipogtog First Nation. By strengthening this working relationship with the current government, all parties are listening to the overwhelming basic needs of Elsipogtog people: adequate housing & shelter,” said Chief Jesse J Simon, Elsipogtog First Nation.
“For far too long, my people have suffered when we work in isolation. Now comes the time to show the province of New Brunswick, other First Nations, and the rest of the country that great things can be accomplished when we set aside our political differences in the best interest of humanity. I hope that this is a first step towards overcoming immense challenges for all First Nation communities. Hand in hand, side by side, back to back; we are all much stronger now!”
New Briefs: Webinar Focuses on Mental Health Needs of Street-Involved Youth
Join Dr Elizabeth (Beth) McKay online at 1 pm EST on Tuesday, March 9 as she explores the mental health needs of street-involved youth, based on the results of her study: Seeing the Possibilities: The Need for a Mental Health Focus Amongst Street-Involved Youth. The webinar will focus on:
• The multi-determined nature of mental health challenges in homeless youth (stress of homelessness and pre-existing mental health challenges)
• The complexity of youths’ experience pertinent to mental health need (overwhelming distress, resilience and coping strategies)
• The urgent need for increased access to mental health services for street-involved youth
• Skilful intervention to help youth move away from negative coping strategies (such as self-harm or addiction) toward more adaptive strategies (such as building positive relationships).
Underserved Youth Forum
YOUCAN is hosting the upcoming Canadian Underserved Youth Forum, to be held April 7-10, 2010 in Edmonton, Alberta.
The goals of the Forum are to:
• Exchange information and knowledge on how current health and social policies and programs affect underserved youth;
• Exchange information and knowledge on best practices and lessons learned in policy and programming;
• Identify priorities for action in addressing the needs of underserved youth; and
• Identify potential collaborative projects and partnerships to promote action.
Youth Caucus at CHRA Congress 2010
CHRA is creating a Youth Caucus at CHRA Congress 2010 in Quebec City, June 2-5, 2010. Their goal is to attract a diverse group of 50 youth (29 and under) to attend this year’s event and a further 50 webcast seats for youth who cannot attend in person. Registration is now open.
United Church Celebrates Commitment to Social Justice
The 2nd Annual Heart and Vision Awards event will be held on Monday, April 12, 2010 to recognize the work of two tireless anti-poverty activists: Cathy Crowe and Rev. David MacDonald. The event will be held at the Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto. For more about the Celebrating the United Church of Canada’s Commitment to Social Justice event contact firstname.lastname@example.org.