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 February, 2005
B.C. creates new supportive housing developments
Last December, more than 100 new supportive and affordable housing units opened to house seniors and people with disabilities in Surrey, British Columbia. Sometimes, it’s not just about finding an affordable home, which is a huge hurdle in and of itself. Many people require support to live safely and with dignity.
Kiwanis Park Place is managed by Crescent Housing Society, which also provided the land, valued at over $4.8 million. CMHC provided mortgage insurance and the provincial government, through BC Housing, contributed a $600,000 grant. The Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia also provided a grant of $75,000.
“Kiwanis Park Place is an innovative partnership between the federal and provincial governments, and Crescent Housing Society to provide supportive housing to seniors in their own community," said Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon.
All apartments in the new development are one-bedroom and wheelchair accessible. Residents have access to onsite crafts, exercise facilities, meeting rooms and lounges. Services offered include an evening meal program twice a week, home deliveries from the library, and 24-hour emergency response.
"Crescent Housing Society has been working on the expansion of Kiwanis Park Place for several years," said society president Victor Curtis. "Our goal was to build housing that was cost-effective; providing features that would assist seniors to stay active and independent.”
Last year, the B.C. government increased funding for housing programs to more than $154.4 million, the largest level ever in B.C.
The society is managing just one of a number of new developments in B.C.
A groundbreaking ceremony was also held early this year for Evergreen Heights, a new affordable assisted living housing development in White Rock. The new development will provide 84 assisted-living apartments for seniors under the ILBC program.
The development, which is expected to open in early 2006, is the first publicly funded assisted living apartments in the South Surrey-White Rock community. The Evergreen Heights Baptist Housing Society, which provides housing for independent seniors and residential care for people with complex needs, will own and operate the development.
The B.C. government has committed to providing 3,500 affordable apartments with support services across the province by 2006. To date, 2,458 ILBC units have been allocated or over 70 per cent of the program in communities across the province.
Toronto considers banning camping in public spaces
Over the past decade, many U.S. cities have enacted municipal by-laws that move to criminalize the homeless in response to concerns about “public space.” But, Canadian housing advocates worry the trend may be moving north after Toronto released a plan that would make it illegal to camp overnight in public spaces.
After nine hours of emotional deputations this month, a council committee voted to approve Mayor David Miller’s “Streets into Homes” plan, which includes a new by-law to “nudge” overnight sleepers away from city hall property by making “camping” illegal.
“I am absolutely opposed to the mayor’s plan to criminalize the homeless, which is a violation of human rights,” said councillor Michael Walker. “This is all just shameful and it won’t make the homeless go away.”
“This plan does not criminalize the homeless,” said Patchen Barss from the mayor’s office. “No one will be arrested and we are absolutely committed to finding solutions to homelessness.”
The mayor has defended the strategy as just one aspect of the strategy that will only be used as a last resort.
“The situation in Toronto for the homeless is getting worse by the day,” said Sarah Ayers of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. “We proposed amendments to the plan, but the councillors wouldn’t listen.”
“Toronto’s plan starts off on a high note,” said Michael Shapcott, co-chair of the National Housing and Homelessness Network. “It puts housing first as a solution to homelessness. But, it allocates no new money to housing and significantly lowers the targets for building new affordable housing.”
Shapcott said the trend doesn’t seem to be widespread in Canada – at least not as yet. But, given that anti-panhandling laws have been successfully challenged in court as unconstitutional, this type of strategy should be expected.
“Politicians don’t enforce by-laws,” Shapcott said. “It will be up to the police. Unfortunately, too many people think that forcibly removing people from the streets is a solution to homelessness.”
Hats off...It's Toque Time!
Raising the Roof's annual “Toque Tuesday Campaign” kicks off on Tuesday, February 8th. The national campaign, in partnership with The Home Depot, gives people from all walks of life the chance to raise funds, raise fun and raise awareness in the fight against homelessness in Canada.
“We encourage everyone to purchase and, most importantly, wear a toque to raise awareness and funds for Canada’s homeless,” said Executive Director Jennifer Parnell.
Warm your head and your heart! Buy your special Raising The Roof toque at any of the 109 The Home Depot stores across the country in exchange for a minimum $10 donation to support programs and initiatives. You will be helping to make a difference in the lives of thousands of men, women and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Check out the website to find the store closest to home; to order on-line.
Housing Consultations well received
Respected Toronto Star editor Carol Goar says she approached the housing consultations organized by Ottawa's National Homelessness Secretariat recently in Toronto with “minimal expectations.” But, she left impressed both by the expertise and insightful ideas presented by the community presenters and the rapt attention and intelligent questions posed by the government representatives.
Neighbourhood gentrification five-year study
David Hulchanski, Director of the Centre for Urban and Community Studies at the University of Toronto, and St. Christopher House were recently awarded $1 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Community-University Research Alliance program for a five-year research project. Community Gentrification & Building Inclusive Communities from Within: A case study of Toronto's west-central neighbourhoods will focus on the lived experiences of low-income people in neighbourhoods in transition.