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 July, 2005
Saskatchewan Indian Women Work to Reduce Violence against Women and Girls
With financial assistance from the Government of Canada, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Women’s Commission will work to build community capacity to reduce violence against aboriginal women and girls. The Commission has been awarded $98,418 for a project called “Kikawimaw askiy: Bringing Back to Where We Once Were.”.
The federal government hopes the small grant will help respond to the needs of Aboriginal women and the joint effort means more support for groups and organizations, who work at the community level, to address local needs. Of the total funding amount, $50,450 is being provided through the National Crime Prevention Strategy and $47,968 under the Urban Aboriginal Homelessness, a component of the Government of Canada’s National Homelessness Initiative.
The FSIN Women’s Commission will work with local communities to explore the factors that lead to the sexual exploitation, transience and disappearance of Aboriginal women and girls. These factors include homelessness, addictions, and family violence. Issues of poverty, discrimination and race-based violence targeting Aboriginal women will also be addressed.
The project goal is to help communities work together with a view to increasing the number of strategies to prevent abuse, assisting women in recovering their well-being and increasing community safety for women.
In October 2004, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution forwarded by the Prince Albert Grand Council Women’s Commission and the FSIN Saskatchewan First Nations Women’s Commission designating 2005 as the Year of the First Nations Woman. The Proclamation provides a vehicle to both raise awareness to the substandard living conditions faced by many First Nations and Métis women and to work towards change.
At the same time, Amnesty International’s report, Stolen Sisters – A human rights response to discrimination and violence against Indigenous women in Canada was released to raise public awareness of tragic loss of nine Aboriginal women victimized by violence, social and economic marginalization, racism and discrimination. Four of these women were from Saskatchewan. www.amnesty.ca/stolensisters/index.php
“All women have the right to live in safety and dignity but overt cultural prejudice and official indifference have put the Indigenous women of Canada in harm’s way,” said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “As a priority, the governments at all levels in Canada must work with Indigenous women in the country to ensure that no more ‘sisters’ are ‘stolen’ from their communities as the result of discrimination and violence.”
Protecting Canada's Non-Profit and Co-op Houisng Assets
Housing co-ops are in every neighbourhood in cities across the country providing an affordable home for many people. People who live in co-ops come from diverse backgrounds, varied incomes and may have special needs creating vibrant communities. Some people living in co-ops, however, worry about the future of their beloved communities.
Over the next decade in Canada, operating agreements for devolved units are scheduled to expire for about 6 per cent of the total portfolio, primarily in federally subsidized public housing, warns David Peters from Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. In the second decade (2014 – 2023), the remaining public housing agreements will expire as will agreements under the Section 95 housing program signed prior to 1986. In the third decade, agreements signed between 1973 and 1978 for Section 26, 27 and 61 programs, and those signed post 1985, will also expire. For a copy of a report on the issue, go to http://www.onpha.org/ or http://www.chfc.ca/
The potential scale of this issue is significant, Peters told Housing Again. In Ontario, the operating agreements for close to 250,000 devolved units will expire over the next three decades (including those whose operating obligations are now a part of the SHRA). The first projects to be affected will be so-called ‘public housing’ and those programs designed to house low-income people, including supportive housing and Aboriginal housing programs.
While the instances are rare, there have been attempts by non-profit and co-op housing groups to sell their assets for the benefit of current members or directors. The recent Bridlewood Co-op case is a matter of public record. The board prepaid their mortgage and tried to sell the individual units to the members. Eventually, the court upheld the objection of CHF Canada, the one opposing member and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, ruling the sale violated the Co-op Corporations Act.
Unfortunately, other provinces do not have as strong protection within similar corporation legislation.
Although the vast majority of co-op boards are fully committed to providing affordable housing in a not-for-profit context, ONPHA, Canadian Housing Renewal Association and Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada, as well as others, are working hard to find solutions before any agreements expire. Service managers, the Province, CMHC, CHF Ontario and ONPHA have set up a committee to address the pressing issues. “There may be some jousting over how to solve the problem,” Peters said. “But, the overall outcome everyone is looking at seems to be the same.”
“This is clearly an interest in which all governments who represent the one taxpayer have in common,” he said. “It is also an interest fully shared by the co-op and non-profit leadership.”
Here’s another way you can help find solutions for Canada's homeless. Join HOMES Publishing Group for their Golf Tournament on Tuesday August 23 in Newmarket, Ontario with proceeds to benefit Raising the Roof.
UN-HABITAT and the Canadian government have begun preparations for the 3rd World Urban Forum, a meeting that will bring together public and private institutions, experts and decision-makers from around the world to discuss the key urban challenges, including homelessness, facing the world today. The 3rd World Urban Forum will take place in Vancouver from June 19 to June 23 2006. Vancouver is the site of the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, which led to the establishment of a UN agency dedicated to human settlements development two years later.
CMHC Releases New Report
In May 2005, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a new report entitled Homeless Applicants' Access to Social Housing. The study of waiting list and application processes for social housing and the issues facing homeless applicants took place between April 2004 and February 2005. The research included a literature review, interviews with key informants, and data collection using survey tools and focus groups. A total of 20 housing providers from four provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Ontario) were interviewed.