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, 2006
WUFIII Sheds Spotlight on Impact of Rapid Urbanization
Vancouver, British Columbia
WUFIII Sheds Spotlight on Impact of Rapid Urbanization
The Third Session of the World Urban Forum closed on June 23 in the City of Vancouver. During the conference, a picture emerged that more than half the world’s urban population lives in slums. If the trend continues, that number will increase to two-thirds by 2050. And in the next 50 years, urban populations are expected to reach two-thirds of the global population.
“The event was an amazing opportunity to network with people from around the world,” said Raising the Roof Past President Jocelyn Greene, who traveled from Newfoundland to attend the conference. “The statistics were staggering and very illuminating. The growing urbanization has caused real challenges for cities - the need is urgent for them to get it right.”
The event also challenged delegates to find ways to make cities environmentally friendly and create a sense of place. It drew attention to unique ways to develop urban agriculture such as green roofs and the importance of green space especially as people move out of rural areas, Greene told Housing Again.
More than 10,000 people from around the world attended the free forum, which is held every two years by the United Nations to examine rapid urbanization. In his opening address, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke about the federal government’s commitment to making cities sustainable while building safe neighbourhoods. “Another key to a safe and successful urban environment is affordable housing,” he said.
Most of this urban growth is taking place in developing countries where the major challenge is to combat poverty and provide better access to basic shelter and services, like clean water and sanitation. Cities in wealthier nations, however, also face problems of urbanization—like crumbling infrastructure, smog and social exclusion. All municipal leaders share the challenge of finding solutions to alleviate poverty in cities, reduce pollution and facilitate sustainable urban growth and development.
Greene used the opportunity while in Vancouver to tour various housing developments and saw first hand the real challenges cities are facing.
“The difference between the haves and the have nots was particularly disturbing—a wake up call for sure,” she said. “I certainly came away with lots to think about.”
At the conference, long-time housing advocate Michael Shapcott co-chaired a roundtable on affordable housing, as well as an on-line discussion prior to the conference. Representatives from cities across B.C. also presented their innovative approaches to homelessness. For more information: www.bcnpha.bc.ca/pages/SCPI.htm.
For more information about UNHABITAT: http://www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/default.asp
Reaching Disenfranchised Youth in Calgary
Housing Again, in partnership with Raising the Roof’s Youthworks initiative, is presenting a series of profiles of youth-serving agencies. The profile that follows is the fifth in a series of articles about agencies that are doing important work to help homeless and at-risk youth. What began as an orphanage has grown into a thriving, multi-service serving the most “disenfranchised” young people in Calgary, Alberta. Formed in 1914, Wood's Homes never turns anyone away and doesn’t depend on “quick fixes.” They help more than 400 people every day, the majority being troubled, hard to reach youth between the ages of 11 and 17. Services offered include crisis care, family centred support/care, and mental health services - one of the few children’s mental health treatment services in Alberta. “Wood’s is known for responsive and innovative services . . . a trusted place where all young people in trouble, regardless of how difficult, can turn to for help,” said Kathryn Osterberg, Communications Manager. Currently operating 22 programs of care, treatment and education, Wood’s partners with many other agencies and community resources to ensure the best treatment possible for the youth and their families. Core residential programs are located at two centres: the original Bowness Campus where George Wood Learning Centre is located, and the administrative and program cottages in the Parkdale Community. They also operate regional and rural programs in Lethbridge, the Bow Valley Corridor and Wheatland County. Other key programs include EXIT Community Outreach for street youth in downtown Calgary; a youth shelter also in the inner city; and the Eastside and Westside Family Centres offering free, walk-in counselling for all Calgarians. After 17 years in operation serving Calgary's homeless youth, EXIT Community Outreach will finally get a long-term and stable base for its operations. Central United Church recognized the need and offered a building, creating a partnership with Wood’s Homes to address the issue of youth homelessness in the city. Renovation construction is scheduled to be completed in October 2006. The Research Department of Wood’s Homes assists the agency’s programs and services to keep track of the work they are doing; determine what treatment interventions with youth, families and communities are having some success; collect and make good use of feedback from customers and stakeholders; discover promising practices being developed by other youth-oriented services in Canada and around the world; and communicate successes by helping with presentations and with the preparation of articles for publication. The department also assists with tracking agency-wide issues of concern that may arise, such as clients’ self-harming behaviour, staff turnover, and program peer ratings. www.woodshomes.ca
Have a Safe and Happy Summer!
A reminder from the editorial team - Housing Again does not publish in the month of August. Look for your next news bulletin in September. As an added bonus, Housing Again subscribers will be sent the Youthworks newsletter, about Raising the Roof’s new initiative to help end youth homelessness.
Committee Recommends Place-based Approach to Policy-making
The Prime Minister’s External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities has submitted its final report. Created in 2004 by the former Liberal government, the Committee was tasked with providing advice to the Prime Minister on developing a long-term vision for the role that cities and communities can play in sustaining Canada’s quality of life. All governments in Canada, chair Michael Harcourt said, should adopt a place-based approach to policy-making, which will allow them to foster better capacities to understand, develop and manage Canada’s places for the future
B.C. Signs Agreement to Transfer Housing Administration
On June 19, Federal Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Diane Finley and B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman signed an agreement to transfer the administration of social housing resources from the federal government to the B.C. government. The provinces of Quebec and Alberta are now the only two provinces that have not signed an agreement. For more information: www.bchousing.org
Ontario Passes New Tenant Law
The Ontario Government quietly gave third and final reading to Bill 109, the Residential Tenancies Act recently. Tenant advocates were happy to see some of the more “draconian aspects” of the old Tenant Protection Act eliminated and the end of evictions without a hearing. However, “improvements are undercut by the Liberals’ failure to eliminate vacancy decontrol,” said Kathy Laird, Director of Legal Services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. For more information: www.acto.ca