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The Housing Again Bulletin, sponsored by Raising the Roof as a partner in Housing Again.

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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 September, 2003

Web Resources and Films to Check Out

British Columbia and Yukon

If you are surfing the Web, check out the Homelessness Virtual Resource Library at . The site collects past and current research from British Columbia and the Yukon and you can access the full-text reports in PDF format online.

Another interesting site to check out is Homeless, an online documentary that portrays six people, who are homeless, from around the world. The documentary was featured at this year’s Hot Docs documentary film festival and you can view it at\homeless . To view the documentary you’ll need to download Quicktime software. Instructions for the download are at the site.

Also featured at Hot Docs this year was ‘Street Nurse,’ documentarian Shelley Saywell’s portrayal of Cathy Crowe, co-founder of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee and her struggles to bring public attention to homeless and poverty issues. ‘Street Nurse’ along with Michael Connolly’s ‘Shelter from the Storm,’ a chronicling of Toronto’s Tent City, are now being sold by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. You can ask the TDRC about the availability of former Tent City residents and/or TDRC activists to speak at your presentation of ‘Shelter from the Storm.’ For more information, visit the ‘Resources’ section at .

Past and current research from British Columbia and the Yukon

New Ontario Network Focuses on Smart Growth


Housing and homelessness groups can now hook up with allies in the environmental movement to push for more sustainable communities through a new Ontario Smart Growth Network. The network is taking aim at urban sprawl as not only a phenomenon that damages the environment, but as a mode of city planning that excludes low- and moderate-income households.

“This network will allow us to define the progressive smart growth agenda more clearly and to work in practical ways with willing municipalities, and perhaps, provincial officials,” said the Housing and Homelessness Network’s Michael Shapcott, who was involved in forming the new network’s founding principles.

The network is being formed at a time when the Ontario government is conducting province-wide Smart Growth consultations. The province is holding off on its five-year review of the policy statement that provides development guidelines to municipalities until it has had some input from the Smart Growth consultation.

Chris Winter, co-ordinator of the Smart Growth Network and executive director of the Conservation Council of Ontario, says the general idea behind the network is to push provincial and municipal governments to stop urban sprawl and to advocate for greater citizen involvement in planning. “The network will be helping groups to develop projects and partnerships, so, the real energy and tension will come from network members and the activities they organize to promote smart growth,” he said.

For more information visit Green Ontario Web site

Ontario Ombudsman slaps wrist of Tenant Protection Act


The Ontario Ombudsman Clare Lewis has “expressed his concern” about a rent-increase policy that is unfair to tenants. Lewis notes in a recent report that landlords may apply for rent increases based on extraordinary utility costs but tenants do not have a corresponding right to apply for rent reduction when such costs no longer exist.

The report comes after the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) filed a complaint with the ombudsman’s office that raised a number of issues with regard to the Tenant Protection Act. These include: the lack of a fair opportunity for tenants to have a hearing before an eviction; the lack of a clear process for tenants to get back into their housing after a landlord has unlawfully locked them out; and, the above-guideline rent increases.

In his report, Lewis wrote that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing was in the process of meeting with groups of people affected by the above-guideline rent increase policy and is considering a number of options -- including legislative amendment. Lewis is still investigating the other parts of ACTO’s complaint.

For more information visit . Go to ‘Publications, News and Events’ for a copy of the annual report or visit the ‘Press Releases’ section for a summary of the report. (release is dated June 19, 2003).

Activists gear up for Ontario Election


A provincial election has now been called in Ontario for October 2. Housing activists across the province have developed some excellent resources to help people mobilize to get poverty and housing issues onto the public agenda.

The Housing and Homelessness Network in Ontario has prepared an extensive toolkit that includes information on how to start a campaign, lobby and handle the media. The network has also developed a list of questions for candidates. Both the kit and the candidate questions are posted in PDF form on the Web at Click on the “Make Your Vote Count’ item on the home page and go to “More on the Ontario Provincial Election:”

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee has also developed a toolkit aimed at helping homeless people to register to vote, as reported in previous Bulletins. The kit consists of a flier for service organizations to give out to homeless clients and a two-pager for staff. Check for a new ‘Elections’ Web resource section that is underway. If it isn’t yet posted, you can e-mail to request a copy.

Elections Ontario is getting in on the act with an extensive Web site on the voting process at .

Politicians can also expect to hear a lot from a new Toronto-based coalition called Housing Ontario Means Everyone (HOME) that will be launched at a press conference on September 4th. . The coalition is made up of community groups, tenant organizations, and organizations that work with homeless people and people with housing problems. It came together specifically to raise awareness during the election. The coalition is currently planning a mock tribunal to draw attention to the large number of evictions happening to low income people at Ontario’s Rental Housing Tribunal. The event is scheduled for September 24th. For more information, contact HOME at 416-604-6784 or e-mail .

Nova Scotia election provides little housing debate

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia held a lively election this summer that delivered a minority government -- the best outcome in the minds of many who value democracy. But activists concerned with affordable housing and poverty were disappointed with the lack of attention their issues received.
In an attempt to spark debate, Angela Bishop, community liaison for Halifax’s Community Action on Homelessness group, wrote an opinion piece in the Halifax Chronicle Herald that said while candidates were building a vision of Nova Scotia by publicly talking about spending commitments, these commitments lacked a most basic building block: housing.

This is surprising as the NDP, the party with the strongest housing platform nationally, was a force during the debates and came in a close second to the ruling Conservatives. “The NDP focused on the hot button issues -- health care, auto insurance and education,” said Bishop. “No one seemed to publicly make the links between housing and the health of our communities.”

The national NDP along with the Nova Scotia branch of the party did, however, attend an election event held by a coalition of community groups to put housing on the agenda. The Conservatives and the Liberals were no-shows. Upon declining, the Conservatives told coalition members that “as you know there is an election going on.”

Bishop said that coalition members will be following up with meetings to let the party caucuses know their disappointment over the lack of election discussion on housing and poverty and continue to encourage the Conservative government to move quickly on implementing the bi-lateral housing agreement signed with the federal government September 2002. When that contract was announced, the provincial and federal governments said that “up to 1,500 affordable housing units will be created or renovated in Nova Scotia over the next five years.”

The group is also working on raising awareness in the private sector and is gearing up to do community outreach during an upcoming visit by the Housing and Homelessness Network’s Michael Shapcott, who will be giving a presentation at one of the universities this fall.

Newfoundland finally signs on to National Housing Strategy


True to its roots as the last province to enter Canada, Newfoundland finally signed on with the feds to complete the National Housing Program. “We are a tough crowd out here,” joked Gerry Kennedy, executive director of programs for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation.

What held the negotiation up was the province’s effort to get money to improve housing stock. It didn’t get what it was asking for, but signed the agreement anyway. The province will step forward with $11 million in new money and take a $4 million credit for houses it built in northern Labrador as well as extensive housing repairs done during the period when the national contract was being discussed. In all, there will be $26 million in new money on the table for affordable housing development in Newfoundland and Labrador. Kennedy says the housing corporation is hoping to see 600 new units -- at 150 per year.

So far, 50 groups have expressed interest in participating in the deal. Kennedy said that of these groups, generally half are from the private sector while the other half are co-operatives or non-profit groups. A couple of health boards have also stepped forward. Kennedy said he would like to see some projects start building this year. New housing will be particularly welcome in St. John’s, where the housing market has tightened up because of the in-migration caused by the success of the off-shore oil industry.

The program is a challenge for the provincial housing corporation because it stopped building new housing when the federal government cut housing funds in 1993. “We have to renew a skill set that we once had,” said Kennedy. “We’ve become out-of-touch with the market so it takes time to ramp up again.”


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