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, 2004
Settlement House Project Opens in Halifax for Single Immigrant Men
In the fall of 2002, Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) received funding from the Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative SCPI (through Human Resource and Skills Development Canada’s Homelessness Initiative) for a project aimed at creating additional housing options for single immigrant men in Halifax. The journey over the past two years was taxing, organizers say, and sometimes unpredictable.
“We met with both challenges and successes throughout our journey,” MISA executive director Claudette Legault told Housing Again. “But, we wanted people to learn from our efforts so we documented the journey, even all the warts and wrinkles.”
The two-year process of opening the affordable housing project in Halifax seemed almost impossible, Legault said. But, on September 12, 2004, MISA officially opened a small four-unit building with eleven bedrooms dedicated to responding to the housing needs of single immigrant men.
Thanks to a partnership with the Maritime School of Social Work and the particular efforts of Jonathan Ball, Home Made: A Snapshot of the MISA Settlement House Project is a report, which captures some of the pains and joys and most importantly, many of the educational moments over the past two years.
“We hope others will be able to avoid the pitfalls and learn from the process we went through so they can respond to poverty and homelessness in their communities,” Legault said. “And we don’t want any marginalized populations pitted against each other for funding.”
Organizers in Halifax hope others will find the report as interesting, informative and as helpful as it is to MISA as they continue to build on the successes to date and strive to achieve their goals.
Settlement house co-coordinator, Vesna Mirosavljevic can be reached at 902-423-3607.
Click here to see the report
Affordable home ownership one answer to housing crisis
Innovative community partnerships popping up
For most low-income tenants, purchasing their own home is the last thing on their mind as a solution to their struggles to keep a roof over their heads. But, new innovative programs are popping up throughout the country that help families buy their own home.
In Hamilton, Ontario, the recently launched Home Ownership Affordability Partnership (HOAP) is helping tenants get out of city-owned public housing and into home ownership. HOAP is a partnership between the City of Hamilton, the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association and the Threshold School of Building. Its goals are to promote affordable homeownership, enhance the quality of existing housing stock, and build technology skills for youth at risk.
Families are selected based on need and ability to secure a zero percent mortgage. With help from volunteers, families select and purchase a run-down or neglected home, which is inexpensive because it is in need of repair.
The family contributes to the redesign and renovation plan. As homeowners, they are eligible for a Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program grant from CMHC and the house is used to train youth in building trades. Costs are kept low, Keith Extance, Hamilton’s program manager told Housing Again, by donations of cash and building materials.
“In some cases, tenants pay rents that are higher than what they would pay if they bought an affordable house in certain areas of Hamilton,” said Extance. “In fact, this type of program is perfect in the Hamilton context. There are still areas in the city, even though we are only 45 minutes from downtown Toronto, where you can get a house for $65,000 to $75,000.”
But, a house at that price, he said, would certainly be in need of serious repair and upgrading, which works perfectly for this program. The not-for-profit building school teaches construction skills for clientele that includes youths-at-risk so the program offers real life renovation opportunities.
“HOAP provides classic win-win results,” Extance said. “Tenants have the opportunity to buy affordable housing, social housing units are freed up, youths at risk get job training, the city’s housing stock is upgraded and neighbourhoods revitalized.”
A similar program exists in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Affordable New Home Development Foundation is a non-profit organization with a board of directors drawn from the community, the Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association and the municipality. The purpose of the foundation is to identify and assist people, who want to become homeowners, but are not able to access the traditional housing marketplace.
The foundation works with builders, land developers and governments to reduce the cost of new homes and help secure down payments and mortgage approvals. They aim to help 100 families each year.
And there are other housing programs, such as Aboriginal homeownership programs and home renovation funds, as well as provincial programs that help low-income people buy or renovate homes.
Unofficial partners in the Hamilton program are Scotiabank and CMHC, both of whom provide financing to the homebuyers for purchases and renovations. Scotiabank manager Frank Passaro said the bank qualifies prospective homebuyers under its zero down payment mortgage plan and makes no special allowances for HOAP applicants.
“We work within people’s capacities,” he said. “We look at their incomes, their financial obligations and credit histories to see if they can carry the mortgage or not.”
Home ownership may not be the magic solution to the ever-expanding homelessness crisis, but it is certainly one answer.
Somewhere to Live or Something to Eat
Housing Issues of Food Bank Clients in the Greater Toronto Area, August 2004
By Michael Oliphant & Jean-Philippe Thompson, Daily Bread Food Bank.
This 22-page paper looks at the key housing issues affecting food bank clients. Set against the context of the welfare rate cut in 1995 and the Tenant Protection Act (Ontario) in 1998, this paper focuses on rent and income problems many food bank clients are facing now.
CMHC releases report on the state of Canada’s housing
Over the past year, housing continued to be one of the faster growing sectors of the economy, supported by high levels of new construction, renovation and sales of existing homes according to the 2004 edition of the Canadian Housing Observer. While broad improvements in housing affordability have been recorded since the mid-1990s, the report says, 1.7 million households continue to face challenges, especially the elderly, lone parents, immigrants and Aboriginal people.
Research on Homelessness
2004 Count of homelessness in Calgary, July 2004
A count of homeless persons is conducted every two years by the City of Calgary. This initiative provides information that is used for the city's ongoing research and planning activities, and is also published as a public report.
Where’s home, July 2004
Report released July 21, 2004 by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and Co-op Housing Federation (Ontario Region) finds that despite a recent rise in rental vacancy rates in several of the 21 Ontario municipalities profiled, more than one-half million Ontarians are without affordable housing.
Home Truths: New Book
Jointly Published by CCPA and CHRA
82 pgs / ISBN 0-88627-404-4 / $12.00
Home Truths: Why the Housing System Matters to all Canadians, by Andrew Jackson, Senior Economist, Canadian Labour Congress.
Canada's housing system is falling short on many fronts. Housing assets are very unequally distributed, and contribute to a disturbingly high level of overall wealth inequality. We face serious and growing affordability problems. Home Truths provides an over-arching economic and social policy framework, which shows how centrally important housing is to the well being of all Canadians. It makes a compelling case for public policy interventions to keep affordable home ownership a continuing option for Canadians at all income levels.