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News items for Thursday February 23, 2017

Posted February 23rd, 2017

News items for Thursday February 23, 2017:

  1. Free tax clinic helps Calgary’s poor, homeless file their returns
  2. Calgarians participate in National Day of Action on overdose crisis
  3. Calgarians gear up for ‘Coldest Night of the Year
  4. Trudeau asked about Housing plan for the North
  5. City of Ottawa hopes for ‘year of housing’ in upcoming federal budget
  6. Medicine Hat unveils proposal to assist residents dealing with poverty
  7. ‘Hard-to-house’ weak link in effort to end homelessness in Edmonton, report says
  8. No fixed address: How I became a 32-year-old couch surfer
  9. Local 107.3 hosts long-running indie radio marathon on homelessness
  10. Homeless clothing line takes heat for ‘making it look like it’s sexy to sleep outside’
  11. Canadian Definition of ‘Ending Homelessness’ Released Today. National organizations ask: “What does ‘ending homelessness’ mean and how do we know when we’ve reached that goal?”
  12. Government of Canada announces close to $3 million to support participation of designated communities to participate in Everyone Counts: the 2018 Coordinated Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness in Canadian Communities
  13. Organizations Call for Budget 2017 to be the “Housing Budget”

Free tax clinic helps Calgary’s poor, homeless file their returns
CBC News, February 22, 2017
By: Stephanie Wiebe

Calgary’s most vulnerable people are getting a helping hand when it comes to filing their taxes. H&R Block has set up a free tax clinic at the Mustard Seed — a non-profit organization and homeless shelter in downtown Calgary. Richard Sutcliffe, one of their clients, saw a sign about the free clinic, and thought it was an added bonus that he wouldn’t have to pay fees to file. He says his work as a home renovations and auto shop labourer has been inconsistent. “It should help me a lot because I haven’t got my GST for the last few years,” he said. “They just sort of not send you GST if you don’t file your tax.” Donna Ryder, an advocate and community health nurse with the Mustard Seed, says having tax preparation done on site has been a huge help to the clients. “It happens all year long. Guests come in and say, ‘I need to get my taxes done,’ and often it’s five years, 10 years, they haven’t had them done. So it’s a big deal,” she said. The Calgary based tax preparation service has direct access to forms with the Canada Revenue Agency, which streamlines the process for people who don’t have an address or identification. “If they don’t file they are missing out on some potential credits so there could be money coming to them like GST credit or the carbon tax rebate, so if they don’t file they are missing out on that.” Valorie Elgar, a senior tax preparer with H&R Block. The clinic is open Feb. 21 to Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Mustard Seed is at 102 11th Avenue S.E.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/free-tax-clinic-calgary-s-poor-homeless-file-returns-1.3993525


Calgarians participate in National Day of Action on overdose crisis

CTV Calgary, February 21, 2017

About 40 Calgarians participated in a National Day of Action on the overdose crisis. This was one of several rallies held across Canada on Tuesday that called on all levels of government to do more to reduce the number of overdose deaths. The group was calling on the government for more funding, safer injection sites and more availability of Naloxone which is the antidote for Fentanyl. Hillary Chapple was among those participating because she lost a great-niece to a Fentanyl overdose. She died while on a Greyhound bus to B.C. Chapple says she carries a Naloxone kit with her in case she encounters someone who needs it. “I think safe injection sites are the key when they are monitored, we need more support out there for mental health, homelessness, we need a ton of support,” she says. “I work with the homeless, I was homeless myself, we need to cut the stigma, not be judgmental, because I guarantee you, everything is based on trauma.” Alberta doesn’t have any safe injection sites now but the province is researching the issue. John Tabler, a former Fentanyl addict, agrees it’s time for safe injection sites. “In Alberta, a lot of the cities are throwing people in jail, look them up. There’s no treatment. I believe a safe injection site in this city would be amazing.” In 2016, 343 Albertans died of overdoses related to Fentanyl that compares to 257 deaths in 2015. Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin supports setting up a safe injection site in our city and Mayor Naheed Nenshi has offered Calgary up to Ottawa as a “test bed” for new treatments.

http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgarians-participate-in-national-day-of-action-on-overdose-crisis-1.3295794


Calgarians gear up for ‘Coldest Night of the Year
660 News, Feb 22, 2017
By: Audrey Whelan

About 400 people are expected to participate in the Coldest Night of the Year walk in Calgary this weekend. The goal is to raise $100,000 for homelessness projects in the city. “Here in Calgary we are raising funds for Feed the Hungry, The Mustard Seed and to pay down the mortgage on Bankview apartments,” Location Director Samantha Jones said. The Calgary East walk starts at Eau Claire Market Saturday night

http://www.660news.com/2017/02/22/calgarians-gear-coldest-night-year/


Trudeau asked about Housing plan for the North
CKLB101.9 FM, Feb 13, 2017

KLB’s news team was at the Town hall gathering with Prime Minister Trudeau on Friday. Questions for Trudeau ranged from education, electoral reform, self-government negotiations, legislation, and this one on from Harvey Field of Ndilo on housing. “I’m looking after my grand-kids and have a two bedroom house, I’ve been trying to get a house, no one will listen to me. I’ve been trying with the band and housing corporation, lots of people need a place to stay. Can you help me out or do something about it,” Field asked. Harvey Field of Ndilo asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau what he’s doing about housing on Friday. Trudeau accepted a letter from Field, and sympathized saying that Canada has not been active on the housing file for the last decade. “A huge part of our approach is going to be a National Housing Strategy, that will be announced in the coming months with be investing historic amounts in housing, billions and billions right across the country,” replied Trudeau. According to the Calgary Homeless Foundation, As of 2011, 19% of all Indigenous households were considered to be in core housing need. For now Field and many Northerners hope it’s part of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 2017-18 Budget, which could be coming by the end of February or early March.

http://cklbradio.com/trudeau-asked-housing-plan-north/


City of Ottawa hopes for ‘year of housing’ in upcoming federal budget

CBC News, February 17, 2017
By: Kate Porter

City of Ottawa officials will make their pitch for a big funding boost in the upcoming federal budget to allow hundreds of new affordable or social housing units to be built locally. At a committee meeting on Thursday, city staff described how 40,000 households in Ottawa live in poverty — but there are only 25,000 units available in social housing or at affordable rates.”We want to be able to make a big dent,” said Coun. Diane Deans, referring to the long waiting list for social housing. “We want to be able to build new units, and that takes money.”Deans, who chairs the city’s community and protective services committee, and Janice Burelle, the city’s general manager of community and social services, plan to write a letter to federal housing minister Jean-Yves Duclos ahead of the tabling of the federal budget, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Tripling construction funding
The municipality received $68 million between 2014 and 2020 under the Investing in Affordable Housing program, said Shelley VanBuskirk, manager of the city’s housing branch. Officials will ask the federal government to nearly triple that funding to $200 million, allowing the city to build 1,300 new units, she said.  The city also hopes for more money to repair existing social housing units, as it falls short $22 million every year. The city’s housing branch would also like more stability in its long-term social housing agreements with the federal government, and is asking that those agreements be maintained so that the city doesn’t have to worry about their upcoming expiry dates.

Time is right, says Deans
Deans said she believes the time is right to ask for an influx of cash for affordable housing. The federal government is preparing a national housing strategy, she said, and housing has been an important topic at recent meetings of Canada’s big city mayors. “Municipalities across Canada are very hopeful that this is going to be the year of housing and that we’re going to see giant steps forward in housing funding federally,” said Deans. “For a number of years, the federal government hasn’t been very present on this issue,” she added. “So this is an opportunity.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/year-of-housing-federal-budget-city-ottawa-1.3986668


Medicine Hat unveils proposal to assist residents dealing with poverty
The Globe and Mail, February 17, 2017
By: Allan Maki

The race to eradicate poverty has moved to the forefront of issues confronting Alberta’s cities, large and small. The provincial capital has End Poverty Edmonton, a 10-year plan to address the more than 100,000 people living in poverty. In Calgary, Enough For All: The Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative is working to help the more than 114,000 people who live below the poverty line. Now, Medicine Hat has joined the fight. On Wednesday, its Poverty Reduction Leadership Group unveiled Thrive, its own proposal to assist the one in 10 residents dealing with poverty – defined as someone who earns “less than what they need to meet the necessities of life.” But what makes Medicine Hat so uniquely qualified to end poverty is its reputation as a place where things get done. Two years ago, it became the first Canadian city to solve homelessness. It succeeded by taking 1,072 people, including 312 children, off the streets and providing them with a place to live, be it a house, an apartment, basement suite, trailer, townhouse or condo. The rent was set at 30 per cent of a person’s income, and pride of ownership has helped keep homelessness from making a significant comeback. Medicine Hat has been so vigilant at monitoring homelessness, it has attracted the interest of city officials from Victoria, B.C. to St. John’s, Nfld., to Texas, Washington State and the United Kingdom. The program was so successful it became the springboard for ridding an even bigger problem. “When we announced a functional end to homelessness, the next step was logically poverty reduction,” said Medicine Hat Councillor Celina Symmonds, who was involved in the homelessness project as a member of the Community Housing Society. “It is a very co-ordinated effort [taking on poverty], but this community does pull together. I like to call it the little community that can.” Emanuel Akech, 44, can attest to that. He arrived alone in Medicine Hat in 2008, after leaving his war-torn homeland of Sudan and spending 14 years in Cuba, before eventually becoming a Canadian citizen. When he reached Medicine Hat, he had only a backpack with him. Community Housing put him in a place for the night, got him into the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Housing First program, which ultimately placed him in a fourplex. He pays his rent from the income support he receives from the federal government. He is aware of how fortunate he is. “I see some suffering the same way. I’ve been there,” he said of his early days in Alberta. “To not suffer like that, I like that way.” Medicine Hat’s approach is to streamline a one-stop system where all services and social needs can be met. Assistance will come from a myriad of sources – including the city, Medicine Hat College, the school board and the food bank, all of them committed to making things work and work well. “They’re all on the inside and they’re pushing the agenda through their different networks,” said Jaime Rogers, manager of the Homeless and Housing Development Department. “That’s why this is working, because you have all these background players who have connections and legitimacy in the community.” Measuring poverty in Canada is not an exact exercise. The federal government has defined the low-income measuring point as having “half the median income of an equivalent household.” In Statistics Canada’s most recent survey, nearly five million Canadians were considered impoverished. End Poverty Edmonton was unveiled in September of 2015 as united task force involving the city, the province’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and the United Way’s Capital Region. Its members are business people, academia and health-care and social-service workers. Their research told them one in eight Edmontonians earn less than $16,968 per year. In Calgary, the Poverty Reduction Initiative first surveyed the public to understand what poverty meant and how it impacted people. Enough For All is a collaborative effort between the city and the United Way of Calgary designed to assist the one in 10 Calgarians living below the poverty line. The goal is to be poverty free “in a generation.” “I think it’s a worthy initiative,” said John Kolkman, research and policy analysis co-ordinator for the Edmonton Social Planning Council. “Is it overly ambitious? Some have argued that there’s so much attention on the overarching developments that we miss what it really is – a series of small steps.” Mr. Kolkman pointed to Medicine Hat as proof that social ills can be cured. “Medicine Hat has largely eliminated chronic homelessness – that’s when people can’t hold a place to stay no matter what is done. Medicine Hat has the gold standard for eliminating that,” he said. “I’ve been to Medicine Hat and I’ve been impressed with how cohesive it is there between the city, the non-profit organizations, businesses, the labour unions. It’s helped by having the population it has [being the right size to see positive results].” Medicine Hat’s approach to poverty has 17 milestones to gauge how it’s performing. Yearly suicide rates will be monitored. So will the waiting lists for social housing. It will be, its administrators believe, very much a made-in-Medicine-Hat success story. “I think communities now are starting to take a look at themselves and saying, ‘What can we do to be part of the solution?’ ” Ms. Symmonds said. “Yes, provincial and federal governments are going to have to be a part of this. There has to be changes in systems across the board. That said, we have a lot to offer here.” A House of Commons committee on human resources, skills and social development will be in Medicine Hat Thursday for a public hearing. The committee is gathering information on how to reduce poverty.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/medicine-hat-unveils-proposal-to-assist-residents-dealing-with-poverty/article34083855/


‘Hard-to-house’ weak link in effort to end homelessness in Edmonton, report says
CBC News, February 21, 2017
By: Natasha Riebe

Edmonton is nearing the end of its 10-year plan to end homelessness, but a solution to the problem remains a distant reality. A new report called “Addressing Hard-to-House Homeless Population” shows Edmonton has built less than a third of the supportive housing units the plan called for in 2007. Now nine years into the initiative, 213 housing units have been built of an estimated 1,000 needed to fill the demand. In October, a city-wide “point in time” count uncovered about 1,750 homeless people living on Edmonton streets. “The dark side of all this is the fact that we have not looked after these people,” Coun. Scott McKeen told CBC News Monday. “Why haven’t we done it? It’s a really good question.” The report shows that the chronic or “hard-to-house” population is the toughest to help. City council is scheduled to review the report at a meeting Tuesday, which includes a recommendation that the mayor write provincial ministers and express the need for both levels of government to work together. But a solution will take effort from three levels of government, said Gary St. Amand, CEO of Edmonton’s Bissell Centre. St. Amand is hopeful the federal government will come through for Edmonton and its need for supportive housing. “Not only in terms of numbers of investment, but also the alignment between the three orders of government so they’re not approaching the conversation from different perspectives and trying to accomplish different things,” St. Amand said.But supportive housing is expensive, he said, adding that many of the hard-to-house or chronic homeless wouldn’t be able to live on their own without support for mental and physical illness.

No more NIMBY. It will also take social and political will, McKeen suggested. The multi-layered issue is perpetuated in part by societal values, he said. “I think governments haven’t done it in part because there’s no huge outcry,” he suggested. “If there was a huge outcry, if there were rallies at the legislature, in front of the city hall, I don’t think we could ignore it anymore.” McKeen said communities need to accept some role and responsibility to have these extended-care housing facilities in their neighbourhoods. He said he hopes the city will not continue to get the “not in my backyard” reaction like when affordable and supportive housing initiatives were proposed in the past. “Frankly, I think this is where politicians are going to have to develop a spine and say, ‘Well no, this is what we do. What we do as a community is look after people who need to be looked after and we’re going to do that.'” One example of a success story is Ambrose Place, a supportive housing facility for Indigenous people in the McCauley neighbourhood. McKeen said a previous community league had originally opposed it, delaying the project by three years. “I do believe that if you or I were treated like a stray dog every time we stepped out on the street, ‘No, you can’t be here, get out of here,’ that we’d have actually start to turn on culture as well.” he said. “These people change. They get healthier, they get happier.” The city report also calls for an updated version of the 10-year plan to end homelessness to be presented to community partners and the province by March 13.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/homeless-edmonton-bissell-centre-scott-mckeen-1.3991563

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-falls-behind-on-housing-the-chronically-homeless


No fixed address: How I became a 32-year-old couch surfer

CBC News, February 21, 2017
By: Shannon Martin

I’m 32 years old, work at my dream job and have an amazing circle of family and friends who love me. Life is pretty great. There’s just one thing — and I can’t believe I’m about to admit this to you, but here goes. Right now, I live nowhere in particular. I’m a couch surfer. For the record, I did have a nice place. But then my rent went up nearly $1,000 per month. Let’s backtrack for a moment. I arrived in Toronto in 2011 from the prairies; bright eyed, ambitious and totally naive. Chasing a childhood dream to live, work, and build a life in what I believe is the best city in the world. Almost everyone back home peppered me with questions: isn’t Toronto too big, too loud, and most of all, too expensive? “I’ll make it work,” I said, having no idea what that actually meant. I managed to, for the first few years. Living with my then-boyfriend, we split the rent and bills. When we broke up, I was suddenly alone in the big city. No problem, I told myself. ‘I’ll make it work’ Downtown is full of young professionals, just like me. We work hard, play harder. It’s what we do. Hustle. I moved into my teeny tiny 454-square-foot apartment in January 2016. Small but cute — just like me, I joked to anyone who’d listen. At $1,650 a month, plus hydro, things were tight. But, swapping stories over $1-an-ounce red wine at Gusto with my girlfriends, I quickly realized I was far from alone. Whether we work in media, pharmacy or public relations, most of us are forking well over 50 per cent of our paycheque to put a roof over our heads. Then my lease renewal arrived in late September. I anticipated a bump in rent and was already making a mental list of expenses I could axe (who needs Wi-Fi when I could “borrow” from the restaurant next door?). I opened the email from my property manager and there it was in black and white. My rent was soaring $950 a month to an astronomical $2,600. At first I laughed. It had to be a typo. A misprint. But as I scrolled through the PDF and saw the amount repeated, any laughter died, as Drake would say, into a dry cry (’cause I’m hopeless.)

‘You’re screwed’ I called the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board and the guy who answered my call broke it down for me in two words: You’re screwed. Real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder confirmed the worst of it. “You’re at the whim of your landlord,” he told me. “It can be a real painful surprise for tenants.” The painful surprise is that if you live in a building that is 25 years old or less, you have no rent-control protection. Rent increases at renewal time, 20 to 30 per cent or in my case much much more, is something many Torontonians are now dealing with, especially in the downtown core, where so many of us want to live. Geordie Dent, with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, says his organization gets a “steady stream” of annual rent increases that exceed the guidelines set by the province. And that’s not all.  There are bidding wars for basement apartments, open houses with line-ups around the block.  “Toronto’s rental market is bananas,” Dent tells me, shrugging his shoulders. Average GTA condo rent: $2K per month And, unfortunately, it only gets more grim.

We’re paying more than ever, too. According to Urbanation Inc, which tracks everything condo related in the GTA, the average condo rent for a one-bedroom is now about $2,000 a month. That’s up 12 per cent from the year before. How much did your salary increase last year? That’s what I thought.

For me, I had no choice but to move. I packed everything into storage, and now I’m floating around until I figure out the future. But here’s what keeps me up at night: I have a good job, I’ve saved some cash. I’m fortunate I have family and friends who’ll put me up for a couple weeks at a time. What about students? Single moms? People who work two or three jobs just to make ends meet? How are you getting by? Share your stories about trying to find housing in this city. I’ll look for solutions and examine what the future may hold.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/no-fixed-address-how-i-became-a-32-year-old-couch-surfer-1.3985771


Local 107.3 hosts long-running indie radio marathon on homelessness
CBC News –New Brunswick, February 22, 2017
By: Julia Wright

Saint John’s community radio station, Local 107.3, takes over hosting duties Wednesday for the Homelessness Marathon, an annual radiothon that began in 1988 in Geneva, N.Y. Topics include in-depth portraits of individuals who have experienced homelessness, profiles of activist organizations and docs on social issues affecting homeless populations. Local 107.3 program director Mike Specht was excited to gear up for a 12-plus-hour day at work. “I’ve got this great nervous energy and excitement,” said Specht. “The Homelessness Marathon is a a great day to be a part of.”

Linking communities across Canada
The goal is “to raise awareness and create linkages between homeless populations across Canada and stand in solidarity with those in the streets,” Specht said. Local 107.3 started airing the Homelessness Marathon in 2010 — but 2017 will be the first year the Saint John community radio station has produced original content. Local 107.3’s Femcore Feminist Collective created an hour-long segment on the role of gender in homelessness, in which women’s co-ordinator Abigail Smith spoke with Jenn Megeney from the Coverdale Women’s Centre, and Diane Kerns and Julie Dingwell from AIDS Saint John. 17 broadcasters in six provinces will air the marathon.

Fuelled by caffeine, social responsibility
The all-night broadcast is a way for largely volunteer-run community radio stations to showcase less-heard perspectives on homelessness. “People across the country do a really great job of interviewing either people who are experiencing homelessness, or people who have experienced homelessness in the past,” said Specht, “and share that with communities across the country.” The 2017 Homelessness Marathon starts its 11-hour broadcast on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. and runs until Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 a.m. on Local 107.3.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/2017-homelessness-marathon-1.3993894


Homeless clothing line takes heat for ‘making it look like it’s sexy to sleep outside’

CBC News, February 23, 2017
By: Laura Fraser

Standing outside the Good Shepherd shelter, Jason Smith pulls on a cigarette and scrolls through photos of $50 sweatshirts and $135 hoodies branded with the word Homeless. He pauses at an image of a woman reclining against a mattress that’s propped up against a garage, then shakes his head. “They’re making it look like it’s sexy to sleep outside,” he says. “And it’s not sexy at all.” Smith, 30, is currently homeless himself. He says he’s a drug addict. And he also says he was disgusted by a new Toronto clothing brand dubbed Homeless that’s come under fire on social media for what’s been seen as exploiting those who actually live in shelters and on the street. “They’re glorifying homelessness, they’re making it look like it’s a cool way to live,” he says. “You’re sitting out here and you’re cold and you’re hungry and there’s nothing to do so you do drugs or you start drinking.” If the clothing and images were solely to raise awareness or funds for homeless organizations, Smith says he might feel a little more comfortable. But then he looks at them again and shakes his head a second time.

Charitable intentions.
The clothing line, however, brands itself as being built on the idea of giving back.  Its website says that it plans to donate 40 per cent of its proceeds to youth homeless organizations in Toronto. It noted, too, that those involved with the brand launched it because several of the employees have experienced homelessness themselves. Co-founder Trevor Nicholls says the company had good intentions. He’s 27, says he doesn’t have a “permanent place of residence now” and also spent some time living out of his car after he lost everything on a business deal. “Based on my own experience, recognizing how difficult it is sometimes to get by, I know how much of a difference even a little bit of help can make,” he said.   The clothing line officially launched about two weeks ago. After its first sale, he said that he and other staff bought supplies and then handed out care packages to homeless youth that included water bottles, toothbrushes and hand sanitizer. But neither he nor anyone on his staff contacted Eva’s Place — the homeless support organization the website lists as the likely recipient of 40 per cent of the company’s proceeds.

No firm partnership
Alanna Scott is in charge of fundraising at Eva’s Place and told CBC Toronto that she only heard about Homeless and its intentions when she was contacted by the media. She spoke with Nicholls on Wednesday afternoon. While Scott says she told him she’s happy to talk about future ideas, they don’t plan to be partners with Homeless. “It really is making light of a very serious situation,” she says. “There are 2,000 youth who are experiencing homelessness on any given night [and] we would want not to exploit them, but support them.” Others in the support community shared similar views on Instagram and Twitter, including advocate and street nurse Cathy Crowe.

A different perspective
Lloyd Daley, however, feels differently. He thinks Eva’s Place should have considered that the campaign would bring in critical funding, he told CBC Toronto. Daley described himself as currently homeless. But he says he wouldn’t be offended to see someone who clearly wasn’t in his situation wearing a hoodie that proclaimed they were. “I say, if it can sell, if it can make money, if it can help the homeless, then I’m all for it.” If the brand were solely trying to profit off of someone’s poverty, Daley says he’d feel differently. Nicholls says he accepts that the clothing line has created controversy on social media — and he says it’s fine that Eva’s Place doesn’t want to partner with them. “If you don’t like what we’re doing and you don’t like our clothes, I mean we highly encourage anybody else to go give to Eva’s or to any of the other organizations directly,” he says. “I think that’s the important thing here.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-homeless-clothing-line-1.3995307

http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2017/02/22/toronto-homeless-branded-merch-sparks-controversy-.html


Canadian Definition of ‘Ending Homelessness’ Released Today. National organizations ask: “What does ‘ending homelessness’ mean and how do we know when we’ve reached that goal?”
Canada News Wire, February 23, 2017

TORONTO -In Canada, there has been no single, agreed-upon definition of what it means to end homelessness. The Government of Canada, in preparation for Canada’s first National Housing Strategy, has encouragingly identified ending homelessness as a priority. Communities, policy makers and advocates across the country have done the same. However, until today, there has not been a cohesive vision of what an end to homelessness in Canada really looks like. In a major step forward, The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) of York University, The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) have released Canada’s first definition of ending homelessness. The definition is based on consultations conducted across the country. “A national definition can help us address concerns and skepticism about what it really means to end homelessness and help drive our efforts by providing clear goals,” said Alina Turner, lead author and Fellow with The School of Public Policy. “There was so much variation internationally in the definitions and the measures different communities used, that it was difficult to see what progress was being made. This makes it difficult to determine the benchmarks for success.” The definition comes at an opportune time: “As the Government of Canada takes steps towards launching a National Housing Strategy, we need to have agreement on what ending homelessness means. Then, we can all hold ourselves accountable to achieving that goal,” said York U Professor Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (Homeless Hub). The national definition takes into account factors such as poverty, access to affordable housing, mental health and life cycle stage. These factors interact in complex ways to impact homelessness. It also takes into account the perspectives of people who have experienced homelessness. For many, an end to homelessness means more than housing. It means safety, security and affordability. “We need to be able to spell out exactly what we mean when we say we’re ending homelessness; this needs to be backed up by evidence and it has to resonate with those experiencing homelessness,” said Dr. Turner. Future work will include how to implement the definition in communities across Canada. Adaptations of the definition for key groups, including youth and Indigenous peoples, will be explored as well.

Some of the indicators in the new definition include:

  • Participants in a homeless-serving system must report high satisfaction and have been included in the decision-making to develop and deliver services.
  • All unsheltered persons should be engaged with services and have been offered low-barrier shelter and housing at least every two weeks.
  • The total number of unsheltered persons and emergency-sheltered persons is consistently decreasing year over year towards zero; the community has reduced its initial baseline total unsheltered and emergency-sheltered count by 90 per cent.
  • The length of stay in emergency shelters and length of being unsheltered is consistently decreasing year-over-year towards zero. The community has reduced the initial baseline length of stay in homelessness (unsheltered and emergency sheltered) by 90 per cent. No more than 10 per cent of those who exit programs return to homelessness within 12 months.

About:

The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute at York University that is committed to conducting and mobilizing research so as to contribute to solutions to homelessness. The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness leads a national movement of individuals, organizations and communities working together to end homelessness in Canada. The School of Public Policy is Canada’s leading policy school. The School was founded in 2008 by renowned economist Jack Mintz with a vision to drive policy discourse with relevant research, outreach, and teaching. Its faculty is composed of scholars with exceptional credentials, and experienced practitioners, working together to bridge the gap between government, business, and academia.

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/canadian-definition-of-ending-homelessness-released-today-614583403.html


Government of Canada announces close to $3 million to support participation of designated communities to participate in Everyone Counts: the 2018 Coordinated Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness in Canadian Communities
Canada News Wire, February 23, 2017

GATINEAU, QC, – Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced nearly $3 million to support Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) designated communities that wish to participate in Everyone Counts: the 2018 Coordinated Point-in-Time (PiT) count of Homelessness in Canadian Communities. The 2018 Coordinated Point-in-Time (PiT) count will help communities measure their progress in reducing homelessness and will contribute to the understanding of homelessness throughout Canada. The results of this initiative will also contribute to the Government of Canada’s efforts to reduce poverty in Canada. Communities can also choose to implement a joint PiT count and Registry Week, which helps the community to create a by-name list of individuals experiencing homelessness. This list can be used to link individuals to housing supports as part of the 20,000 Homes Campaign of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. Findings from the 2018 Coordinated PiT count, when coupled with results from the 2016 Coordinated PiT count, will provide important insight into changes in the homeless population over time. In 2016, a total of 32 communities participated in the first nationally coordinated PiT count. Key findings from this PiT count, which ended on April 30, 2016, were published in Highlights – 2016 Coordinated Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness in Canadian Communities.

Quick Facts

  • The call will be open until May 31, 2017. Following this call, PiT counts will be conducted in designated communities from March 1 to April 30, 2018. In addition to the Guide to Point-in-Time Counts in Canada, participating communities will receive support through an implementation toolkit and training.
  • From Budget 2016, the Government of Canada invested an additional $111.8 million over two years in the HPS to provide communities the support they need to help prevent and reduce homelessness, including Housing First activities, better emergency response services, and supports for youth, women fleeing violence and veterans. This builds on the program’s existing investment of nearly $600 million over five years.
  • To support community efforts to understand homelessness, the Government of Canada is investing nearly $3 million in this initiative.
  • Since the launch of the HPS, nearly 35,000 Canadians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless have benefitted from education and training opportunities; assistance has been provided to support over 34,000 job placements; more than 6,000 new shelter beds have been created; and the program has helped place over 82,000 people in more stable housing.

Backgrounder

Point-in-Time Count
A Point-inTime (PiT) count is a method used to measure sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. It aims to enumerate individuals in a community who are, at a given time, staying in shelters or “sleeping rough” (e.g., on the street, in parks), providing a “snapshot” of homelessness in a community. PiT counts include a survey that can provide communities with information on the characteristics of their homeless population (e.g., age, gender, veteran status, Indigenous identity). This information can be used by communities to direct resources to areas of greatest need, and to connect individuals with specific backgrounds to targeted supports to help them achieve stable housing. When completed in subsequent years, it can also be used to track changes in the homeless population over time and measure progress in reducing it. The coordinated PiT count of homelessness uses a common methodology and is coordinated with communities across Canada through the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). In Quebec, the HPS is administered through a formal agreement that respects the jurisdiction and priorities of both governments in addressing homelessness. Discussions with Quebec are ongoing with respect to the 2018 Coordinated PiT Count.

Registry Week
In 2015, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) launched the 20,000 Homes Campaign to house 20,000 people experiencing homelessness by July 1, 2018. Communities that participate create a registry, or By-Name List, of people experiencing homelessness and determine the severity of their needs in order to prioritize people for housing interventions. The creation of this list typically begins with a Registry Week, when surveys are conducted with people experiencing homelessness to begin to evaluate the severity of their needs. Data collected from a Registry Week will allow communities to target supports and services that meet the needs of the individual, but also the community. Since its introduction, 37 communities have participated in the Registry Week.

Homelessness Partnering Strategy
The HPS is a unique community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelesness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities in all provinces and territories, as well as to Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada, to help them address homelessness.

Funding for Homelessness projects
Through the HPS, qualified organizations may receive funding for projects to help prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada. These projects are funded through regional and/or national funding streams.

Regional projects
Funding delivered regionally focuses on the needs of homeless and at-risk individuals at the local level, and aims to help individuals gain and maintain a stable living arrangement. The three regional streams are:

  • Designated Communities:
  • 61 communities across Canada that have a significant problem with homelessness have been selected to receive ongoing support to address this issue. These communities—mostly urban centres—are given funding that must be matched with contributions from other sources. Funded homelessness projects must support priorities identified through a community planning process.
  • Rural and Remote Homelessness (non-designated communities):
  • The Rural and Remote Homelessness funding stream targets smaller, non-designated communities located in rural and outlying areas. This funding is not available to the 61 designated communities.
  • Aboriginal Homelessness:
  • The Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream addresses the specific needs of the off-reserve homeless Aboriginal population by supporting an integrated service delivery system that is culturally appropriate and community-driven.
  • The HPS partners with Aboriginal groups to ensure that services meet the unique needs of off-reserve homeless Aboriginal people in cities and rural areas. The unique needs of all First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and non-status Indians peoples are also considered.
  • Off-reserve Aboriginal people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are also served under the Designated Communities and Rural and Remote Homelessness funding streams.

National projects
The national funding streams help to develop a better understanding of homelessness based on local data collection, and make surplus federal real properties available to organizations that plan to use the facilities to address homelessness.

  • Innovative Solutions to Homelessness:
    • The Innovative Solutions to Homelessness funding stream is delivered nationally and supports the development of the best innovative approaches to reducing homelessness. Funding can be used to support activities in three key areas: supporting community-based innovative projects to reduce homelessness and/or the cost of homelessness; building strategic partnerships with key stakeholders; and testing and/or sharing tools, social metrics, and research findings geared towards homelessness.
  • National Homelessness Information System:
    • The National Homelessness Information System is a federal data development initiative designed to collect and analyze baseline data related primarily to the use of emergency shelters in Canada.
  • This funding stream supports the implementation and deployment of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) software, HIFIS training at the community level, and projects related to community shelter data coordination.
    • Data collected through HIFIS and other sources, such as provincial or municipal governments, feed into the National Homelessness Information System to help develop a national portrait of homelessness.
  • Surplus Federal Real Property Initiative:
    • The Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative is a funding stream of the HPS. It makes surplus federal real properties available to eligible recipients for projects to help prevent and reduce homelessness.

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/government-of-canada-announces-close-to-3-million-to-support-participation-of-designated-communities-to-participate-in-everyone-counts-the-2018-coordinated-point-in-time-count-of-homelessness-in-canadian-communities-614484083.html


Organizations Call for Budget 2017 to be the “Housing Budget”
Canada News Wire, February 23, 2017

OTTAWA, – Three leading national housing and homelessness organizations today jointly called on the federal government to commit to long-term investment on the scale needed to tackle the housing crisis in Budget 2017. The three organizations – the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association – are united in their call for a solution that will ensure all Canadians have a safe and affordable place to call home.

In an end-of-year interview last month, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that affordable housing is “a fundamental building block that leads towards people being able to succeed,” and suggested significant investment in housing would be forthcoming in the 2017 Budget. Furthermore, the federal government committed to unveiling a National Housing Strategy that prioritizes the needs of Canada’s most vulnerable populations. The three organizations applaud the Prime Minister and his government for their commitment to housing, but caution that promises must turn to action in the 2017 budget.

There is no question that housing needs are great, especially when considering:

  • 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year.
  • 1 in 5 renters spend more than half their income on housing.
  • 5 million households can’t find decent housing they can afford.
  • The affordability of housing for low-income families living in social and co-operative housing is uncertain, as federal funding agreements will expire. In the absence of a new federal commitment, by 2020, 175,000 fewer low-income households will be assisted compared to 2010.
  • Indigenous households living in cities and communities experience higher rates of homelessness and are more likely to be living in precarious housing than non-Indigenous Canadians.
  • A November 2016 report prepared by Morrison Park Advisors estimates total capital needs of the social housing sector to be in the range of $8.4 billion to $13.6 billion per year.

“The 2017 Budget and the subsequent National Housing Strategy marks an unparalleled opportunity to  address the many pressing housing needs facing the most vulnerable members of our society,” stated Jeff Morrison, Executive Director of CHRA. “Today, our organizations are saying that the 2017 Budget needs to be the “housing budget” so that we can make meaningful progress in tackling the myriad of problems experienced daily by vulnerable households.” “We agree with the Prime Minister when he calls affordable housing a building block to success,” said Nicholas Gazzard, Executive Director of CHF Canada. “Over the past fifty years we’ve developed a successful foundation of social and co-operative housing in Canada. Now let’s leverage this shared commitment to affordability and inclusion in order to tackle Canada’s housing crisis once and for all.” “If Budget 2017 is the ‘Housing Budget’ we’ve been calling for, Canada could see the beginning of the end of homelessness,” said Tim Richter, President & CEO, of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. “A Housing Budget would save lives, reduce the incredible cost of homelessness, and would mean tens of thousands of low income Indigenous peoples, women, seniors, veterans, children and young people have a shot at a better life.”

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/organizations-call-for-budget-2017-to-be-the-housing-budget-611954215.html


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