PTF Housing Action Group Minutes_3 Dec 2014

Housing Action Group of the Poverty Task Force met on December 3rd, 2014. Bob Hart, Public Health shared a logic model for the Housing Action Groups’ Above Standard Housing Project.  There is buy-in from the municipalities and they recognize the relationship between health and housing.

There is consideration to provide a workshop for this group and suggestion for potential topics from this group would be appreciated. One suggestion was to focus on a concrete topic such as mould and the relationship to health. Mould is a tough and huge issue because it could be a tenant or landlord issue. Possibilities at a workshop could be:

  • To provide a Mould case example and a toolkit, with a technical perspective. (Air quality testing as a tool). There are no standards when testing for mould. It was suggested that a toolkit for landlords could be a good idea for the workshop.
  • Another suggestion came from the Nov 14, 2014 Grey County Housing event, guest speaker who mentioned that some areas have tried an accredited apartment system for landlords.
  • Housing says more landlords and apartments are needed so it is important to present a positive message.
  • A potential issue for some landlords is a lack of resources. Some landlords cannot afford to fix things up. Age of Grey and Bruce housing units are much older than the provincial average so will have more problems.
  • Home inspection program with recommendations for inexpensive repairs.
  • OS bylaw staff provide suggestions for housing repairs. Some of the outlying municipalities are not involved with this.
  • Fire alarms and CO2 are not enforced in municipalities where there is no fire department. The workshop could also include fire safety, CO2, heat, and other topics which would help to build relationships with the bylaw staff.
  • Bylaw staff work only part time. CBO or clerk may be responsible for some of the responsibilities of housing inspection, therefore it would be advantageous to broaden the workshop invitation to those who are involved in these roles.  Workshop should also focus on : what can be done,  understanding each other’s role, and how to work together, gaps analysis.
  • Funding for a series have workshops is being sought with some initial support from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association ($2,000).
  • Regional Project on mental health and addiction issues – Colleen Purdon did a focus group on the topic of mental health and addictions.  Recommendations from meeting on Friday. Housing considerations from a Housing First Model.  A Pilot project in Grey County has been recommended, with an outreach worker and chronic homelessness and another partner.   Impact of early trauma for substance abuse is evidence.  Colleen will share.
  • Glenda Devlin- Right to Housing rally – 500 people met at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto to march. A Forum was provided after the march. Coalition is about the charter challenge, a group is going to Supreme Court of Canada for charter rights, The Right to Argue the Charter for Housing and Homelessness Strategy.  Canada is the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy.   More than 35 organizations were represented.
  • Women’s Shelter funding – Patty mentioned that a research grant for $15,000 for women and girls was submitted last year. The Women’s Shelter partnered with HU last year but the grant did not get accepted for funding. This year the funding is available again with a deadline of Feb 1.  Patty will send information of this grant.
  • See full minutes at: Housing Committee Dec 3, 2014 minutes

Housing Action Group Minutes_27 February 2014

The Housing Action Group met on 27 February 2014 and focused on developing a plan to address substandard rental housing units throughout the Counties – how to define the type, magnitude and distribution of housing conditions in Grey and Bruce Counties.  The goals of the project will be to 1) improve communication between CBO and landords, 2) education of tenants and landlords, 3) improve wording in official plans as to maintenance of units, etc.   See the full minutes: Poverty Network Housing Sub Committee Meeting Minutes February 27, 2014 (1)

Housing First, Women Second? Gendering Housing First

Homes for Women, a campaign to prevent, reduce, and ultimately end the homelessness of women and girls in Canada is concerned that the existing gender gap in research examining Housing First models will influence the allocation of almost $600 million – $119 million over 5 years – committed by the federal government in Budget 2013 to programs on the Housing First model. Homes for Women recommends adoption of the following measures to help ensure implementation of Housing First funding reduces the homelessness of women and girls.

Gender Considerations In Housing First Models for Those Experiencing Chronic Homelessness

Violence plays a central role in shaping the pathways into homelessness for women and girls and once homeless, it is an ever-present reality of life on the street.2 Attempting to avoid the violence of the male-dominated streets, many women and girls cycle in and out of abusive relationships, trade sex for temporary accommodation, and stay in unsafe and overcrowded housing. Their homelessness is less visible than that of men. To ensure their success for women, the ubiquity of violence in the lives of homeless women and girls and the reduced visibility of their homelessness must inform all of our strategies and models for ending homelessness. This holds particular implications for Housing First models.

For the full Brief from the Homes for Women Campaign see: Housing First, Women Second FINAL

District of Muskoka scraps development charge waivers for affordable housing

Huntsville Forester

ByAlison Brownlee,  June 26th

HUNTSVILLE – The District of Muskoka has scrapped development charge waivers for affordable housing and has replaced them with a new program.

“The development charge waivers were the best plan we had in the early stages,” said Huntsville Coun. Fran Coleman. “I didn’t want to do away with those waivers until we came up with a better plan. And I think this is it.”

Coleman made her comments at a district council meeting on June 17.

The new program involves two bylaws.

“One bylaw would create a framework for program initiatives that will flexibly respond to the wide range of housing needs,” stated a media release. “A second bylaw redirects current district expenditures into the program in a phased manner over the next five years.”

The district will fund the new affordable housing initiative by redirecting about $325,000 in annual expenditures on waivers for development charges as well as about $215,000 in savings from social assistance expenditures beginning in 2014, according to the release.

Stephen Cairns, commissioner of finance and corporate services, stated in the release that the previous development charge waiver has assisted development of modest single-family homes since 2009. “We have invested over $1 million in reimbursements and we could use these funds much better and more strategically to fund multi-residential and other housing programs.

Rick Williams, commissioner of community services, noted that there are housing shortages for low-income seniors, low-income single adults, adults with disabilities and single-parent families with children under age 18.

“Each of these groups is growing across Muskoka and we are not seeing the development of quality rental accommodation to meet these needs,” stated Williams in the release. “Our wait list for rental accommodation continues to grow at a rate of 75 units per year on top of the 650 already waiting. We need to change that.”