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 December, 2004
"All Calgarians will have access to housing where they feel safe and
This was the dream for the founders of the Calgary Homeless Foundation
when it was conceived in 1998 by a well known and successful Calgary
businessmen Art Smith, who still remains involved on its board of
directors. With the support of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, Mayor Al Duerr
and city CEO Paul Dawson, together they were determined to do
something about homelessness. And with the help of the Calgary Chamber
of Commerce and the United Way of Calgary and Area as sponsors, the
foundation was born.
Its mandate, the foundation's public affairs director Rion Sillito told
Housing Again, is to "look after the capital funding for affordable
housing projects." But, they also created a "Funders Table," which is a
unique partnership between all three levels of government, United Way,
private organizations and individuals to play a collaborative role in
prioritizing and co-ordinating community housing projects.
The foundation implemented the Collaborative Granting Process to ensure
that the desires and priorities of the community were expressed as part
of any decision-making about funding new initiatives.
The Funders Table resulted from the need to better coordinate funding
for homeless initiatives among all levels of government. Once the
Funders Table was established, it became apparent that other potential
funders in the community could be approached, including private sector
donors, foundations and government departments with discretionary funds,
but no history of funding initiatives to help the homeless. (For more
information about the Funders Table, go to sharedlearnings.org,
click on community initiatives and do a keyword search for 'Funders'.)
New housing needs land, so the Calgary Homeless Foundation "incubated"
the beginnings of an organization to make that happen.
The Calgary Community Land Trust is now a not-for-profit society
dedicated to ensuring "perpetually affordable housing" in Calgary. The
Trust enables affordable housing initiatives by finding and managing
donations of land, land and buildings, or funds to purchase land.
Another mandate, Sillito said, is research and education.
Every two years, the foundation releases Housing our Homeless, an
outline of the state of homelessness in Calgary and a guide to its plans
to respond to the community's needs. This year's report includes
"realistic, but ambitious plans" to add 200 units per year of
transitional housing in the Calgary market over the next five years.
Building on faith - Spiritual community find solutions to homelessness
On November 22, National Housing Day, Anglican Bishop Colin Johnson
spoke on the steps of Queen's Park as six people from the Toronto
Disaster Relief Committee were being charged by police for putting up a
few tents. "I say to the government. Power is in your hands. I ask you
on behalf of the diocese and the people of Ontario to do the right
thing," said Johnson, who urged his congregation - and the rest of us
too - to work to make our political representatives keep their promises
on affordable housing.
Why is it that spiritual leaders of all faiths and beliefs are fighting
for a common goal like building social housing?
Last month, Housing Again featured St. Clare's Multi-faith Housing
Society in Toronto, which highlighted faith-based solutions to
homelessness. But, St. Clare's isn't the first spiritual group to use
its commitment to community outreach to put roofs over people's heads.
"The new world is inclusive," said Sandy Cook from Covenant House in
Vancouver. "Faith is about building community - a bridge to a better
life. So we set aside differences, embrace our differences really, and
get to work."
Examples of faith-based organizations getting down to the business of
affordable housing are evident all over the country - letter writing
campaigns, fund-raising, political advocacy, community outreach, feeding
the hungry and marginalized - they do it all.
Cook's group www.covenanthousebc.org, which helps high-risk,
marginalized youths, is part of an international organization that was
incorporated in 1972 in New York City. Its founder Father Bruce Ritter
opened its doors after he found six youths sleeping in his doorway. Now
there are sister centres all over North America. When a study by
Covenant House in Toronto www.covenanthouse.on.ca revealed thousands of
young runaways on the streets of B.C., the service opened in Vancouver
"One thing we in the faith groups have going for us is the theological
basis (or gospel mandate, if you like) that challenges us and demands of
us that we care for the neighbour," said United Minister Karen MacKay
Llewellyn from the Homelessness Action Group. The program is organized
and funded by seven congregations including, Traditional Egalitarian
Jews, Quakers, Unitarians, United Church members, and community
volunteers with no religious affiliation. www.homelessness.on.ca
Twenty-one churches and synagogues in Toronto - and many more across the
country - run Out of the Cold programs, which provide meals and
emergency shelter for the homeless.
"Out of the Cold isn't a solution to Toronto's housing crisis - it's a
band-aid," said housing activist Judy Vellend. "But until more
affordable rental housing is built, we will work to keep people warm and
fed, and to offer some hope to those who are marginalized in our
Habitat for Humanity, which is also connected to an international
organization, is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry inclusive of
all faiths and ethnicities. Its members believe in the conviction "that
every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent, affordable
place to live in dignity and safety regardless of their religious
preference or background." www.habitat.org
Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, which describes itself as a "life-changing
ministry," works with many Aboriginal men and women in need of housing.
www.siloammission.com Provincial-wide organizations like Ontario
Multifaith Council address homelessness and housing issues in their
services. www.omc.ca Community Action on Homelessness in Halifax lists
a number of faith-based organizations. www.cahhalifax.org
Helen Iacovino says the Caring Alliance is a coalition of faith groups
in Scarborough that assists families housed in motels, and is also
involved in advocacy. www.caringalliance.ca Interfaith Social Assistance
Reform Coalition (ISARC) is a coalition of faith groups working on
issues of poverty, hunger and homelessness in Ontario. www.isarc.ca
Kehilla Residential Programme identifies and champions affordable
housing initiatives responsive to the needs of the Jewish community in
North York. It recently held an affordable housing forum, Bagels to
Walter Cavalieri, from the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, and Mark
Kinzly and Kevin Irwin from Yale University organized a three-hour
interactive, action-oriented workshop on crack cocaine at the 5th
National Harm Reduction Conference in New Orleans, in November.
Rent Supplements Work
The report: From Tent City to Housing - An Evaluation of the City of
Toronto's Emergency Homelessness Pilot Project is now posted on the City
of Toronto's website. It's an excellent resource offering proof that
homeless people want housing, can manage their own housing and that rent
supplements are an immediate means to that end.
Toronto recently got a signal
from the province that they may be open to rent supplements again when a
pilot project for 400 low-income families was started that will see them
receive up to $300 per month for a "housing allowance." Ontario housing
minister John Gerretsen told Housing Again that both he and federal
housing minister Joe Fontana are "open to getting back in the business
of rent supplements." But, even he admitted that 400 units was a "small
step" towards the 35,000 housing allowance spaces promised during the
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released the next report in
its Quality of Life Reporting System series, which focuses on incomes,
shelter and necessities in 20 urban communities in Canada. A separate
report, "Moving Forward: Refining the FCM Recommendations for a National
Affordable Housing Strategy," was also released.
First National Research Conference on Homelessness
On May 17 - 20, 2005, the Canadian Conference on Homelessness: Stories,
Research, Solutions will be held at York University in Toronto - the
first national, cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary forum for sharing
and collaboration in order to explore the links between research and
action, and to continue to move towards effective long-term solutions in
homelessness issues. The university has issued a call for papers and
presenters. The deadline is December 10.
Special Offer for Housing Again Bulletin Subscribers
Save 1/3 off the cover price of Finding Room: Options for a Canadian Rental Housing Strategy (Eds. David Hulchanski and Michael Shapcott) when you use the coupon attached to this bulletin (pdf). Act now, offer ends December 20, 2004.