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

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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, 2006

A Call to Action on Homeless Youth Agenda

St. John's, NL

On September 26 – 29, St. John’s, NL was the site of a very exciting event—Beyond the Street: Youth & Communities Taking Action on Homelessness, which drew the attention of the national media. Nearly 250 delegates from across the country came together for the first national conference dedicated to profiling initiatives to address youth homelessness—a group that is so frequently rendered invisible. But most importantly, the event heard directly from young people and developed a co-ordinated strategy to bring back to their communities.

“St. John’s got it right,” said Sean Gadon, President of Raising the Roof. “We heard the voices of young people prominently throughout the conference. Their voices, their expertise guided the development of the strategies.”

“As a result, the action plan was unanimously supported,” Gadon told Housing Again after he returned to Toronto.

Beyond the Street, which was hosted by the St. John’s Community Advisory Committee on Homelessness in partnership with Raising the Roof, and the Urban Core Support Network, harnessed the creative energy and ideas of youth, homelessness organizations, and other organizations interested in creating a better community, including faith-based organizations and business leaders, said committee member and conference co-chair Bruce Pearce, along with co-chair Jocelyn Green, Past President of Raising the Roof.

The conference profiled existing challenges and emerging trends in youth homelessness and showcased successful Canadian efforts to address them. The agenda was designed to maximize shared learning, networking, and collaboration among delegates.

By the end of day three, the conference participants had agreed to six steps to take back to their communities:

· Fully Recognize Homeless Persons – that Canadians and governments fully recognize homeless persons, including homeless youth, and respect their rights as citizens;

· Make Action on Youth Homelessness a Top Priority – that all groups and individuals, including our governments, immediately make comprehensive and supportive action on youth homelessness a top priority in Canada;

· Action for Governments – that governments maintain and enhance all programs on homelessness, including the National Homeless Initiative, affordable housing and youth support programs;

· Reverse Federal Cuts to Youth Programs – that the federal government be urged to reverse the recent $55.4-million in cuts to youth employment and support programs;

· Follow-up National Youth Conference and Advocacy – that a National Steering Committee be formed to plan a follow-up National Youth Conference, organize future advocacy, facilitate information sharing and promote access to youth resources, with the initial support of $12,000 from Urban Core Support Network;

· Action for Conference Participants – that conference participants take back and share what they have learned and experienced in St. John’s with their local communities and support the “Homeless Youth Action Agenda.”

“We want people to makes sure youth homelessness is a top priority in their communities and with the government,” said Pearce. “The issues are so compelling—we need to keep the network and discussion alive.”

Saskatoon Youth Lead the Way

Saskatoon, SK

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 seventh in a series of articles about agencies that are doing important work to help homeless and at-risk youth.The Saskatoon Downtown Youth Center Inc. (EGADZ) is a community based inter-agency organization that provides resources and actively supports services that empower youth at risk to help them reach their full potential. EGADZ recognizes the potential in young people, including their right to be heard and to self determination. And they use a holistic approach to seeking “harmony and balance” in their lives and provide youths at risk with a safe place to link with their families and communities. But what makes the organization unique, Executive Director Bill Thibodeau told Housing Again, is that from the very beginning, they took their direction from the experts—the youth they serve. “In the beginning, youth from all walks of life came together and told us what a home needs to look like,” said Thibodeau. “In doing this it sets the footprints for all our homes.” “We have mentors not parents assisting with the homes.”EGADZ programs are all voluntary and the participants must agree to a case plan of things that they are willing to work on. Its mission is to encourage youth at risk in the City of Saskatoon to make choices that improve their quality of life through the provision of direct services and an inter-agency approach.EGADZ offers a wide variety of formal and informal programs including a drop-in component, teen parenting, day and school support programs, street outreach, “Joe’s Garage” and a home project. “Our homes are totally strength-based and we create a sense of family and kinship that allows our stronger youth to mentor and assist those youth that are struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Thibodeau said. “We are also very committed to community partnerships.” Some youth have stayed at EGADZ for over 4 years; however, the average length of stay is about 18 months. As the needs expanded, the organization created an in-house program as well for younger youth, age 16 and 17.“It is extremely challenging but rewarding to create a family of youth that supports each other and have enough supports in place to help pick these kids up when they fall,” said Thibodeau.

Ottawa Roundtable to Develop Affordable Housing Strategy


The books are finally closed for the fiscal year 05-06 and given the $13.2 billion surplus, the federal government released the promised $1.4 billion dollars for affordable housing, which were first detailed in Bill C-48—the Liberal-NDP brokered deal last year. Although details are still unclear, it appears that the money is now spread over three years instead of two as expected. Although the money will be deposited in trusts in each province or territory, it appears the money cannot be used to support the existing housing stock or rent supplements. The federal government also announced $2 billion in program cuts, including $45 million in CMHC’s budget linked to “efficiencies” and a $3 million cut to Canadian Policy Research Network’s budget.
In response to the cuts and looming expiry of funding commitments, London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen, NDP Critic for Housing and Status of Women, is inviting all stakeholders to a roundtable in Ottawa to discuss these issues and to develop a strategy to ensure that affordable housing and programs are not forgotten. The roundtable will be on Wednesday October 25, 2006 between 3:30 and 5:30 pm. For information call 613-995-2902 or .


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