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, 2010
Feature: October Days of Action in Support of Affordable Housing
October is expected to draw a great deal of much needed attention to the worldwide crisis of homelessness. On October 10, 2010 (10-10-10), millions of people will mark the first World Homeless Day to draw attention to local needs and provide opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness.
Later in the month, the Canada Day of Action in support of a National Housing Strategy is set for October 19th – one day before Bill C-304, the Private members’ bill drafted by Vancouver- East NDP MP Libby Davies, is slated for a third (and final) reading debate in Parliament.
Simultaneous actions are set to take place across the country on the 19th and during the week leading up to the Canada Day of Action. Events in Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria will feature the well known red tents, seen during the Olympics to draw attention to homelessness.
Organizers of the Red Tent Campaign are calling on Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs to make, by supporting Bill C-304, a “commitment to ensuring everyone in Canada has access to safe and affordable housing.” Red Tent is a joint campaign effort of more than 20 housing and homelessness organizations, including: Pivot Legal Society, CWP Advocacy Network, ACORN Canada, Impact on Communities Coalition, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, et le Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU).
In Ottawa, organizers will kick off the Day of Action at 9:30am Eastern with a press conference on Parliament Hill and then a gathering on the Hill where 100 red tents will stand as symbols of Canada’s homelessness crisis and the growing support for a federal housing strategy. They will end the day with a procession down Sussex Drive to a second rally outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, with red tents in hand.
“A solution is within our reach. But it is going to take all levels of government, Aboriginal communities, and civil society coming together to develop a comprehensive housing strategy to address homelessness and ensure decent housing for all,” one organizer said. “With Bill C-304, an Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians…we have an opportunity for a federal housing strategy that could meet the diverse needs of communities across Canada. The NDP and the Liberals are supporting this Private Member’s Bill, but they don’t have enough votes to pass it alone.”
If an organization would like to become a part of the Red Tent campaign, sign on to the Basis of Unity and let them know what actions you’d like to take.
Community Spotlight: Second Base Youth Shelter Runner Up for Eva’s Innovation Award Applications Available for 2011
Applications are now available for the sixth year of Eva’s Initiatives’ Award for Innovation. New for 2011 is the opportunity for organizations working with homeless or at-risk youth to apply for an award for a project that is in the development stages. (See more about this year’s application below). Housing Again has already profiled the three winners and two runners up for the 2010 Eva's Initiatives Award for Innovation, recognized for their exceptional work with youth experiencing homelessness. Another nominee chosen for this month’s community spotlight is Second Base Youth Shelter in Scarborough, which provides emergency food, clothing and shelter for homeless youth and provides opportunities for youth in need to become self-reliant within their community.
Second Base has 56 beds for youth between the ages of 16-21, says Paul Taylor, Executive Director. Their day drop-in resource centre provides access to a variety of supports that include an in-house GED Preparation Program, on-site health clinic, resume development, housing help, free haircuts, a hot lunch and other relevant workshops. In their application for the award, Taylor highlighted Second Base’s food services program, Second Helping. This program is supported by paid staff as well as youth from the shelter who have participated in a food services training program and youth-led catering.
The purpose of this initiative is to provide employment training and income for street-involved youth, as well as to establish a new stream of funding for the shelter and its programming. The kitchen program prepares more than 43,000 meals on an annual basis. It was a natural next step to expand on this valuable training opportunity to launch a catering business, and Second Helping was born in 2008.
Through hard work and word of mouth the business has earned a great reputation and now caters high profile events. Second Helping is now funded by the income it generates.
“As a youth shelter not only do we understand many of the barriers street-involved youth encounter trying to access employment training and meaningful work, we are able to offer services and resources,” said Taylor.
Deadline for 2011 Applications is November 12
Also new this year to the Award of Innovation is a change in the criteria of the awards, intended to reflect the shifting needs of homeless youth and the rapidly evolving sector.
“The staff and Board at Eva’s Initiatives know that awards and citations draw attention to innovative programs and can assist greatly in building partnerships and securing funding”, says Rachel Gray, Eva’s Director of National Initiatives. “Each community has different needs and different approaches to meeting those needs, but one common fact remains - virtually all communities across Canada, large and small, are struggling to prevent and end youth homelessness.”
Winners will be community organizations demonstrating innovation in one or more of the following ways:
• Delivering services that help homeless and at-risk youth achieve greater self-sufficiency
• Demonstrating ways to help prevent or end youth homelessness
• Including green or environmental strategies in their programs
• Engaging youth in ways that foster leadership development
• Entering into research collaborations and demonstration projects
Deadline for applications is November 12, 2010 at 9 pm EST. Applications are now available online. For more information or to receive an application by email, contact: email@example.com
Newsbriefs: Federal Housing Funds Confirmed Until 2014
In June, Raising the Roof President Sean Gadon sent a letter to Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Diane Finley, requesting details for expiring housing and homelessness programs beyond March 31, 2011. In August the Minister confirmed that the Government “...will maintain annual funding for housing and homelessness until March 31, 2014.” “More specifically, the Government extended funding for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, the Affordable Housing Initiative and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program at current funding levels for two years, and will maintain annual funding for housing and homelessness until March 31, 2014, as part of its 1.9-billion, five-year commitment,” Minister Finley wrote. She also said they are considering the feedback they received in the 2009 fall consultations to “identify the best option for future federal investments in homelessness” and they will share more information with us when it becomes available. While it is good news to hear that the funding is secure, it is important at this time that individuals and groups across the country press the Government for the specific renewal of the Affordable Housing Initiative, the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program through to 2014 and beyond.
Street-Involved Youth Vulnerable to Criminal Victimization
A new report by Professors Stephen Gaetz, Bill O’Grady and PhD candidate Kristy Buccieri found that contrary to popular belief, street-involved youth are disproportionately the victims of crime rather than perpetrators.
Commissioned by the non-profit legal clinic Justice for Children and Youth, the report found that a whopping 76% of Toronto-based participants had been a victim of a crime in the past 12 months. Gender, race, sexual orientation, age and longer durations of homelessness were factors found to increase the likelihood that a youth would experience criminal victimization.
The report states that “If the levels of violence and other forms of crime found in this study were being experienced by any other group of youth in Canada there would be immediate public outrage and considerable pressure for government to take action”. Instead, not only are street-involved youth vulnerable to victimization, they are also less likely to report the crime to a social worker or the police, leaving them with little to no protection.
The report offers several recommendations that require the cooperation of all three levels of government in Canada as well as a better understanding of the nature of youth homelessness and criminal victimization, so that street youth may experience the same level of protection as any other Canadian citizen.