Giiwe: Reducing Indigenous Homelessness

Members of the Poverty Task Force’s Community Voices and Housing Action Group partners participated in a Giiwe Circle with author Jesse Thistle.  Jesse presented his work on the development of a Indigenous Definition of Homelessness with The Homeless Hub. Jesse also shared his personal story, his new book From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way. and joined us in our Giiwe Circle.  Jesse Thistle – who has traveled all across Canada – commented that Giiwe was a unique project and its Circles a unique experience that he had not seen in any other communities across Canada.

Giiwe is an exciting Indigenous led, inter-agency collaboration brought to us by the staff at M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre. The project aims at reducing off-reserve Indigenous homelessness. Giiwe is centred on fostering a coordinated housing-related response to Indigenous specific housing needs and preferences in Grey Bruce.

Giiwe has successfully established and sustained an Indigenous led, inter-agency collaboration with 11 organizations while strengthening relationships and promoting trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners. It has also facilitated a referral process and established inter-agency agreements to better serve Indigenous peoples living off-reserve. A recent Evaluation Report highlights the work being done.

Giiwe Circles incorporate cultural safety training, collaborative case management and relationship building to increase Indigenous leadership with improved collaboration and understanding of Indigenous practices, which ultimately lead to the prevention of Indigenous homelessness.

 

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