Skip the navigation
Français About Shared LearningsRaising the Roof Main Site
This site's visual design can only be viewed in graphical browser that supports web standards, but its content is accessible to any browser or Internet device. We suggest you upgrade your browser. Two popular standards-compliant web browsers, which are free to download, are Internet Explorer 6 and Netscape 7.


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

Receive this bulletin by email

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, 2005

Addressing the Unique Needs of Urban Aboriginals

Sault Ste. Marie

Outreach Worker Betty Lou Kidder believes in capacity building and partnerships rather than confrontation and focusing on the negatives of a situation. She doesn’t want to “re-invent the wheel” either so has helped set up the Urban Aboriginal Homelessness Program in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with those philosophies in mind.

“Many of our clients have recently moved from reserves and face very unique needs integrating into the community,” Kidder told Housing Again. “The change is like a culture shock to them—they can lose so many benefits when they move off the reserve and face many barriers to getting employment and housing.”

The centre’s clients may be facing racism and discrimination, homelessness or at-risk of being homelessness, low or fixed incomes, substance abuse issues, mental illness, chronic illness, history of violence, or struggling with other issues. They may also be ex-offenders, seniors or new to the area.

The Indian Friendship Centres is the host agency for the program that opened on December 15, 2004 and had its official opening ceremony just this past February. Sault Ste. Marie is a community of 80,000 people located at the heart of the Great Lakes on the border of Michigan.

The program, which has been very busy since it opened, Kidder said, works very closely with other organizations building partnerships. They rent space out of Vincent Place (operated by St. Vincent de Paul), providing co-ordinated services and support to alleviate urban aboriginal homelessness or near homelessness. The program maintains and enhances community involvement through partnerships and linkages.

It offers a drop-in centre, free lunch and programming three afternoons per week. The programs offered include basic living skills, budgeting, credit counselling, holistic health, nutrition, spiritual teachings, addiction services, housing issues, as well as client advocacy and liaison, community agency referrals and development.

“Aboriginal people, whether second generation reserve or recently moved off their reservation, do not feel comfortable accessing mainstream services,” said Kidder. “Our programs are teaching tools that help to address those individual needs, and we will assist further with advocating and liaison when needed.”

They hope to have a website set up in the future, but in the meantime, Betty Lou Kidder can be contacted at for more information.

Youth and Homelessness


According to Covenant House, on any given night, approximately 33,000 Canadians are homeless, of which about 8,000 to 11,000—nearly one third—are youth. Most studies show that over 50 per cent of homeless people are under the age of 25.

Homeless youth are vulnerable to physical violence, mental health problems, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual abuse and conflicts with the law. They are isolated with few resources often suffering from poor physical health. Although all young people are vulnerable to being homeless, it is a significant problem for Aboriginal youth, as well as gay and lesbian youths. And most fear discrimination in adult shelters.
No doubt this information comes as no surprise to most social justice advocates, who are acutely aware of the importance of reaching out to young people. Many youth-specific programs are being developed across the country tailored to meet the needs of homeless youth. And more programs are involving young people—the younger the better—in outreach and education services geared to preventing and supporting homeless youth.
Earlier this year, the Mayor’s Youth Task Force, a group of proactive young people from Markham, Ontario, and Street Kids International, a Canadian-based non-profit organization, invited more than 100 high school students to a community forum to examine youth poverty and homelessness.

“We hope to motivate Markham students to learn about the challenges of homeless youth and actively contribute to the quality of life for all in our community,” said Markham Mayor Don Cousens during the conference.

As a result of the work of the task force, the young people in Markham have become more acutely aware of their vulnerability; feel more ownership for creating change in their community; and are more sensitive to people living on the street and the conditions that lead to homelessness.

Street Kids is working with many schools providing youth with the opportunity to learn about, and to take local action on homelessness and other global issues.

There is a unique project in St. John’s, Newfoundland, that assists youth who face significant barriers to education and employment. The “Youth at Promise Challenge” is an initiative of Choices for Youth, a non-profit, community-based agency which provides housing and lifestyle development support to youth.

Ayala Reshef, a teacher at Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute in London, Ontario, has a group of twenty elementary children, who have knit winter scarves and hats for people who are homeless. She hopes their efforts will teach the children about “service to mankind.”

In Prince George, British Columbia, the program Prevention in Motion: Using Education to Address the Root Causes of Homelessness, takes a multi-faceted approach designed to contribute to a reduction in homelessness by addressing underlying root causes and effects that make youth vulnerable to homelessness.

The John Howard Society of PEI has created a support team in Charlottetown to help young people develop a sense of empowerment and self-reliance. Youth who are homeless—or at risk of becoming homeless—are assisted in various ways to explore their individual needs. They are informed about the community resources available to them and given assistance in developing a long-term support network.

The National Anti-Poverty Organization launched a Youth Poverty Initiative to engage youth in doing research, telling their stories through theatre, video and interactive web sites, developing popular education and campaign resources and taking action on youth poverty.

These are just a few examples of ways advocates are reaching out to youth, not only to provide assistance once they have become homeless, but to involve them in creating change.

Other resources:

Aboriginal Youth Network

Canadian Children’s Rights Council

National Research on Youth and Homelessness

Toronto Youth Cabinet

Canadian Housing Renewal Association

Campaign 2000

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Raising the Roof

Housing Report Card Delivers Failing Grade

The National Housing and Homelessness Network released its latest national housing report card during the federal, provincial, territorial housing ministers’ meeting in Halifax last month. The report concludes that there has been “too much political spin and not enough truly affordable housing.”

Ontario to Help Lead Team Finalizing Housing Framework
Nova Scotia

At the conclusion of the annual meeting of the federal/provincial/territorial ministers responsible for housing in Nova Scotia, federal Housing Minister Joe Fontana announced that Ontario would co-chair with the federal government a working team to develop and finalize a housing framework for the country. He also said the ministers had identified a “wide range of priorities in their communities, and the need for a flexible, sustainable and long-term approach to housing.”

World Habitat Day
New York

Monday October 3, 2005 is World Habitat Day. In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly designated the first Monday in October each year as “World Habitat Day” as a time to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter and to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. This year’s theme is the “Millennium Development Goals and the City” as a reminder that in 2000 world leaders committed to launch a concerted attack on poverty, illiteracy, hunger, unsafe water, disease and urban and environmental degradation.

Housing in Niagara


Niagara Regional Housing is hosting an affordable housing development forum in St. Catherines on Friday, October 21 in partnership with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Organizers hope to inspire partnerships across various sectors to increase the development of affordable housing. The agenda includes an overview of existing building incentives and successful approaches adopted in other regions. The keynote speaker is the Honourable John Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Call 1-800-704-6488 to register. Call 905-682-9201 ext. 317 for more information about the forum or visit


Accessibility  |  Contact Us
© 2003 Raising the Roof / Chez Toit