Interfaith Housing Plenary – 11/28/17

We need your input and commitment to continue and grow the initiative. Working together, everyone achieves more. Let’s put our faith into action.

Join us to learn more about CRIHI and get updated on the Ten Year plan to prevent and end homelessness in Edmonton.

Let Us Continue To Be Part of the Solution!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Time: from 9 AM – 12:30 PM

Our Host:  Beulah Alliance Church (17504 98A Ave, Edmonton)

Lunch will be provided.

Registration begins at 9:00am with program starting at 9:30am


Where’s Beulah Alliance?

Beulah map

 

Advertisements

November Action Highlight: Host a Workshop

One key way we at the Interfaith Housing Initiative engage is by hosting workshops.  What we do at these workshops will depend on what kinds of questions or needs are coming forward.

Here are a few sample questions that our workshops could help explore answers to:
  1. What is being done across the city to help low-income neighbours afford a safe and quality home?
  2. What role can our community play in the work of addressing homelessness?
  3. What can we do to better respond to needs in our local community?
  4. What are other faith communities doing?
  5. How can we participate in local conversations on housing in our neighbourhoods?

Types of Workshops we can help plan:


Regional Workshops –  we could help you engage with other faith communities, community leagues, neighbours and other local partners in your corner of the city.

  1. Providing solid information on the current need for Housing help and supports, and hosting a conversation between diverse voices around a healthy community response to new neighbours and new units of affordable housing.  Example:  What’s Your Wisdom on Affordable Housing?
  2. We could develop a workshop to encourage collective action by local faith communities, and/or invite local partners to speak to community needs.

Local Neighbourhood Workshops enabling healthy housing conversation between faith communities, the local community league(s), and local businesses.

  1. Equipping and supporting people of faith for constructive engagement in upcoming conversations on affordable housing in their community.
  2. Connecting directly as a support to healthy process in a local housing conversation.

Multi-faith community workshops engaging numerous faith groups in your area.

  1. Providing Education on needs and challenges, as well as identifying opportunities for volunteering, collaboration and connection.
  2. Story-telling, and capacity-building to get your community thinking about what is possible.

Workshops for Individual Faith Communities

  1. Helping the local congregation consider what meaningful engagement looks like in their local context.  We could invite local social workers or community leaders to speak to issues and opportunities nearby.
  2. Highlighting opportunities, providing education, volunteering and ongoing connection/participation.

Call to Action:
Put the coffee on, and invite CRIHI’s Mike Van Boom to stop by to see what might work best to fit your questions and your community.  Email: mike@interfaithhousing.ca

Interfaith Work an Act of Peacemaking

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.”
~ Jesus ~

As you know, the Interfaith Housing Initiative is a gathering of faith communities from around Edmonton working together to address homelessness in our city.  We work together, knowing that we may believe very different things about the nature of God, the world, ourselves, and our purpose…  but we all believe in the need to love our neighbour, and to care for our neighbour.  On this common ground, people of many faiths here in Edmonton are gathered to confront the need for quality decent and affordable homes for our neighbours.
In 2004, I was ordained as a Pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.  That makes me a Calvinist who values God’s sovereignty over creation and human history.  I see the fingerprints of the Holy Spirit on many interactions and movements around our city: at City Council, on building sites, in committee work, and in conversations in the local neighbourhood; and I follow the call of Jesus as King, Savior and Redeemer of our world.  And yes, I actually enjoy preaching on the Canons of Dort!

I continue to be profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve as Housing Ambassador for the Interfaith community gathered here in common cause.   In my almost two years serving here, I have come to realize the power of what we are about:  that in a time of rising fear and suspicion between peoples and faiths, our continuing decision to work together on this common ground is a profound act of peacemaking.

Serving with each other builds understanding and relationship.  It creates a sense of community and helps us place our fears and questions in a healthier frame.  At the end of it all, there will continue to be many things we disagree on; but our shared role in shaping a just and compassionate society will not be one of them.

What we are about here truly is the work of God!

~ Pastor Mike Van Boom, Christian Reformed Church

Befriending Dustin; a Welcome Home Story

Elizabeth and Richard’s [Welcome Home] participant, Dustin has struggled for many years with depression and an addiction to alcohol. When they first started meeting together, he struggled to keep their appointments, wondering if his volunteers were going to judge him because of his addiction. It was hard for him to believe that they really enjoyed his company, and he was often very quiet and withdrawn.

After many months, Dustin began to attend some of the program functions with Elizabeth and Richard, and found that he really enjoyed meeting others from Welcome Home. He felt accepted for who he was, which helped him to develop more self-confidence.

Recently, Dustin took a big step, and went into detox. As is often the case for those with a serious addiction, he had a relapse soon after getting home. However, instead of feeling ashamed and spiraling into depression, he called Elizabeth, and let her know. His willingness to share this part of his journey with his volunteers demonstrates the amazing level of trust that they have built together. Elizabeth and Richard reassured Dustin that they were still there for him, and encouraged him to try again when he felt ready.

Since that relapse, Dustin has applied to a longer-term treatment program, which will help him to address both his addiction and his mental illness. He continues to look forward to the next Welcome Home social, and knows that he has found true friends to journey with him through the many ups and downs of his recovery.


Volunteer with Welcome Home!Welcome home logo
One of the biggest reasons people struggle or fail as they come out of homelessness into housing is loneliness.  Welcome Home assembles and trains a small team of volunteers to walk with someone as a friend.  This is a one-year commitment to go for coffee, go bowling, take long walks, to encourage and pray for a fellow human being on a tough stretch of the road.  ​To find out more information about volunteering contact the Welcome Home Coordinator at 780-378-2544.
https://www.cssalberta.ca/Our-Ministries/Volunteer-Mentoring-Support


 

The Plan to End Homelessness: Unpacking the Third goal of the new update

Working together with a diverse group of people tends to be tricky under the best of circumstances.  After all, we each come with our different expectations, ways of being, backstories, ideas and passions.  But imagine how tricky it can be working across diverse organizations!  Even if we’re all working in the same general direction, a lack of good communication and coordination of efforts can sink the work; or at very least cause significant frustration and a waste of precious time and resources.


A Place to Call Home: Edmonton’s Updated Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness:
Update Feature:  Part 3 of 3

Stronger collaboration between organizations responding to homelessness and extreme poverty has been a front-line emphasis for some time now, and an amazing amount of ground has been covered.  The chart below illustrates the gradual shift in movement the last years have seen toward better communication and coordination.

history of coordinated access

Jarrod Bayne, the Chief Strategy officer from Homeward Trust Edmonton (HTE) makes the following observations about how this work has progressed:

  • Before the Ten-year Plan, waitlists to get into housing were the norm.  With the implementation of the Plan and of Housing First, prioritization based on need (and standardized assessment tools) became the approach for HF programs.
  • Housing First agencies adopted a “No Wrong Door” approach, whereby a person presenting at any agency could expect to be screened and prioritized for service – they didn’t have to be referred elsewhere and repeat their story in other words.
  • No Wrong Door as an approach had a lot of strengths and consistency, but weaknesses as well.  Agencies were prioritizing largely individually, and it was more challenging to optimize as a sector.  A person could also have a service relationship with multiple agencies, complicating matters.
  • Homeward Trust established some central capacity for “Coordinated Access” to services funded under the Plan.  Given that Homeward Trust administered the shared database and provided other capacity for the sector as a whole (such as landlord relations, rental assistance, and training), it made most sense to locate this function within HTE.
  • Several opportunities locally served as “proof of concept” for Coordinated Access as a shared practice.  One example is our efforts through Housing First to address crisis levels of families in hotels.
  • Through our participation in the 20,000 Homes Campaign, the homeless-serving sector took the opportunity not only to increase our reach in identifying people experiencing homelessness, but also to combine and consolidate prioritization lists into a single shared list.
  • Building on international leading practice, HTE and our partners in Edmonton are now active participants in the “Built for Zero” initiative. This initiative emphasizes a real-time, shared “By Name List” as the cornerstone of community-wide efforts to end homelessness. This approach not only builds on the Coordinated Access capacity we have established locally, but also broadens the potential to directly involve multiple partners and providers in “working the list”.  A shared community-wide list in real time gives us tremendous ability to react to trends, to learn more about how people move in and out of homelessness, and to show the impact of our collective efforts.

How does the new Plan update talk about the next stage of the journey?  Here’s the basics:


Unpacking the Third Goal:
Develop an Integrated Services Response

update goal three
Engaging people with lived experience.  

If you want to do a good job on anything, you want to be able to see what you’re doing from many angles.  Frontline staff, along with participants in a program provide critical input to ensure providers are getting it right; with quality shelter, and in delivering housing and support services.  The plan says “the need for specific engagement with key subpopulations, including youth and indigenous people will continue to be assessed and expanded to other groups where needed.”

Continued partnership on access and information-sharing.
Building on the work done already, specific goals are set to bridge the significant gaps that remain.  The ‘no wrong door’ policy has helped to reduce the run-around and frustration people experience when trying to find help and support with housing.  But there is still work to do on making sure people are able to be assessed and referred to the most appropriate kinds of help, and of course trying to ensure the right help will be available to meet the needs.

The System Planner Organization
With so many organizations and partners engaged together in the work across Edmonton, it can be difficult to gauge the health and needs of the larger picture.  Homeward Trust Edmonton is currently positioned and resourced to be the system planner.  Much of the work they do is targeted to streamlining the communication and information gathered from the many partner organizations in order to understand and research the larger trends.  This helps inform where there are shortfalls and gaps in the work being done, and provides critical evidence to inform decisions as to where scarce resources are best spent.

update system planner

The Accountability Framework
How will we ensure the work stays on track?  Who will help resolve issues, sort out conflicts, and discuss the tough questions?  An accountability framework will be developed by 2018 that will “identify resource and funding coordination processes, roles and accountabilities to support plan strategies.”  This framework will (most likely) involve setting a table, gathering appropriate partners, and together formulating tools and structures so the group is able to understand and respond effectively to issues and challenges that emerge.

Areas of possible engagement for faith communities:
1. Engage with Local Service Providers in your community.  Here’s a list of different resources and the different kinds of basic needs they work to respond to:
http://mapsab.ca/downloads/SocialAtlas/Resource/2017/NoData/Basic%20NeedsList_0217.pdf
2. Understand the best points of contact.  Visit our website for emergency contact numbers and service providers:  https://wp.me/P20ewB-o6
3. If you know someone in search of a place, call the Coordinated Access Hotline:  780.496.1300

End Poverty’s Indigenous Circle talks: Reconciliation work in the local neighbourhood


“When I talk to my indigenous neighbours, they express their concern that everybody seems to be watching their house.” 

Fear and suspicion over concerns related to race, class or culture often show up in our communities, even if they are consciously unwanted and rejected in hearts and minds.  What can be done to overcome this unwelcome undercurrent at play in our communities?  How can we find our way to healthy relationships with local neighbours, especially when there are barriers between us?

CRIHI recently had the opportunity to visit End Poverty Edmonton’s Indigenous Circle to seek their wisdom and ideas on how people can pursue practices of reconciliation in their local neighbourhoods.

Here were some of their insights and observations:
“It takes work…  give and take from both.”  As with all relationships, it can be complicated.  Efforts to connect may not always go smoothly.  It may require some commitment on both sides to say this is important and to give it the time and attention it needs.

There are some communities that are thriving already on this front!  One member of the circle shared her experience of a great relationship with her neighbours.  They talk over the fence; shovel each other’s walks (even racing to see who gets there first); weed each other’s gardens and share vegetables; and keep an eye on each other’s places when someone goes away.  People know and support each other.

But others had a very different experience… of local neighbours being cold and unkind.  Another shared the experience of being followed around in a store.

What can people do to build relationship with local neighbours?

  • When you are going into a new community, “look for kind people!”
  • “Become Colour-brave!  Start a conversation and hear my story.  See me as a Cree man, who has been through a lot and struggled…  And let me hear your story of your life and your struggle.”
  • “Say Sorry!”  Share your regrets at what has happened in the past and what another has faced.  Sharing tears can be very healing.
  • Keep extending the welcome!  Continue to reach out with an open hand.  Treat people with kindness and respect.
  • Walk with each other and work together as Allies!  Do things together.  Go with each other to talk to a neighbour or to help someone.  If just one person goes, it will be heard differently than if we go together.
  • And of course, respect each other as equals.  Share food.  Go for Coffee.
Reconciliation won’t always happen the same way or to the same degree between people, but even small steps in the right direction move us forward.
By Mike Van Boom, CRIHI Housing Ambassador

What’s Your Wisdom on affordable Housing? – West Edmonton

The City of Edmonton is considering a guideline/target of 10% affordable housing in neighbourhoods all across our city.  What might that look like in your neighbourhood? What questions or concerns do you have? What ideas do you have? What do you think is a healthy response to new neighbours and new units of affordable housing? What’s your wisdom on affordable housing?

This workshop gives communities in Edmonton’s West End a chance to start the conversation early; before new projects or proposals come to the table.  In this workshop we will hear:
1. A presentation on the types of Affordable Housing needed.
2. A non-profit developer who consults, builds and manages units of affordable housing.
3. A story from a person who has needed help affording a home.
…and then we will have a chance to talk about it with each other as neighbours.

Neighbourhoods invited for this are those west of 170th over the Henday, South of Stony Plain, and North of the River.  Direct invitations have been extended to all local community leagues, faith communities, and home owner associations.  But this workshop is open to any interested neighbour.

Here’s the details!


west ed workshop logistics

Refreshments and Childcare are provided.  This is a workshop, not a drop-in information event, so please plan to join us starting at 1:00 and stay for the conversation.

 

Faith-Based Collaboration Highlight: Jasper Place Wellness Centre

Here’s how this story started:  Recognizing growing needs and struggles experienced by their neighbours in West Edmonton, several Christian churches (large and small) met together with the City of Edmonton to consider what they might collectively do to help out.

From that first meeting, West Edmonton Interfaith coalition formed, starting in 2005; gearing up to address social issues locally.

The coalition met with Murray Soroka, who was working with a few others doing some street work in the community.  Together, they agreed that a drop-in/resource centre was needed.  So they went and did it!  A society was formed, a lease was signed, volunteers donated time, money and expertise in renovating and preparing the space (including Plumbing, drywall, finishing carpentry, painting…), and they opened in June of 2006 on Stony Plain road.  Their starting goal was simple:  “Building community through relationships.”  They made a place where vulnerable community members could come and build relationships with the faith community.

At the beginning, Soroka says, “we were heavy on relationships, but light on everything else.”  But they provided laundry, showers, shopping cart storage (a safe place to put your stuff during meetings or appointments), and lots of meals.

A year in, they started helping people experiencing homelessness find housing.  In 2007, they helped house 100 people across West Edmonton.  They helped provide a damage deposit, and a utility deposit and helped people get settled.  Some of these people needed just that little bit of help, and are still housed today from that initial work!

In 2008, they ran two pilot projects exploring Housing First, a new strategy to start by housing and then providing supports to people.  Then in 2009, Housing First took off, and they have been involved ever since.  Through their own efforts and housing first, have housed over 1100 people.

In 2010, they secured funding to build Canora place; an affordable housing complex with 24-7 on-site support.  For help with more difficult issues like mental health and addictions, residents are connected with outside agencies and services.  Ongoing donations help keep Canora a safe and affordable home.

In 2011, they started a social enterprise, employing vulnerable populations paying a living wage, providing job training and experience; part of their employment program.  Today, they operate five for-profit businesses that pay a living wage (around $17/hr).  The hope is that these businesses may some day provide wealth for the organization to help sustain the work they do.  Through these businesses, they provide for forty full-time jobs and put 1.5 million in wages back into the community!

CBC News featured a story on one of these businesses at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/mattress-recycling-edmonton-homeless-1.4120502

Food security is also one of their five pillars.  They are a founding member of Food4Good, that helped start over forty community gardens.  They host Collective kitchens, with opportunity for food education and awareness.  Food4Good supports pop-up markets, selling groceries up to seventy percent below market.

In 2016, JPWC made inroads into Wellness Education with the goal to ‘build resiliency into the lives of community members through education.’  The Edmonton Public Library provides basic computer training.  An Art teacher produces art therapy.  Financial institutions come in to provide financial literacy.  They also have a mental health worker, an addictions counselor, grief counseling, and assistance with tax returns (right until the end of October); which is a critical way to lift people out of poverty.

In September 21, 2017, they officially opened the Jasper Place Wellness Centre (celebration picture below), a Medical Centre where they provide primary care to vulnerable populations.  Currently, they have two doctors on staff, and they hope to eventually be a full-time clinic with hours from 9am-9pm, six days a week with five to seven doctors.
JPWC opening

Today, JPWC serves around 800 people every year in West Edmonton.   Murray Soroka says it matters that “we are outside of the core.  Vulnerable people can reside in all parts of our great city.  We need to have supports where the people are.”

Starting with a coalition of caring communities that saw the need and wanted to respond; JPWC has become an incredible hub for help.  They see themselves as a community development organization, and a wellness centre; a place where people can find help with the basic things, get over some big hurtles, and become contributing members in their local community!

Who are the faith communities supporting Jasper Place with time, money, volunteers, hospitality and genuine care?  They are many!  Beulah Alliance, West Edmonton Christian Assembly, Hosanna Lutheran, Trinity United, West End Christian Reformed, Covenant Christian Reformed, Annunciation Catholic, West Meadows Baptist, Jasper Place Baptist, Gospel Centre, and many more.

Other partners:  Edmonton Public Library, City of Edmonton, Edmonton West Primary Care Network, Parent Link, Bissell Centre, and Homeward Trust

Look what’s possible when we work together!

To further explore Jasper Place Wellness Centre, please visit: http://www.jpwc.ca 

The Plan to End Homelessness: Unpacking the Second Goal of the New Update

They called it the ‘Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.’  At the beginning, leaders in the city of Edmonton knew this was an unachievable goal, but they stuck with the title.  Why?  Because they believed it was better to aim for success than to begin by measuring our failure.

Eight years in, much good work has been accomplished, and ‘no, we are not on target to succeed in ten years.‘  The work has always been long-term, but to do it well, it is good for us to continue to aim for success; to continually evaluate what we are doing and why; making our efforts better, stronger and more effective.  It is also critical to stay focused on the larger picture, which must include prevention.

The report, A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention describes it well with the following infographic:
thistothis
Access the report at the following link: http:// www.homelesshub.ca/anewdirection

Last month we reflected on the first goal to End Chronic Homelessness; most of the solutions there focused on providing Accommodation and Supports.  In October and November, we examine the second and third goals.  The second goal targets the work of prevention.

Unpacking the Second Goal: Prevent Future Homelessness

The new update sets the following targets:

In 2019, people will be diverted from entering the homeless-serving system with an immediate link to community-based prevention supports within five days wherever possible and appropriate
By 2018, corrections, health, and child intervention will report on the number of people discharged into homelessness from public systems on a biennial basis at minimum.  Based on figures reported, annual targets will be introduced to achieve zero discharge into homelessness by 2023.

Update second goal
Enhancing homelessness prevention and diversion.
A key to prevention is catching people before they either lose their housing, or slide into homelessness for any length of time.  The plan update aims to fill that need by strengthening the ability of Coordinated Access to stabilize people’s housing situations, prevent evictions, and enhance crisis supports so people don’t end up at shelters or in Emergency rooms.

They aim to provide supported referrals that will make flexible housing funds available to agencies that are already providing support services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.  the report says, “a total of 750 individuals will receive supports from these two programs annually when fully implemented.”

Additional proposed measures to prevent homelessness include working with the Government of Alberta, City of Edmonton, and EndPoverty Edmonton to encourage increases to affordable housing stock and portable rent supplements.

Stronger supports and resources for Indigenous communities.
The report highlights: “In 2015, 54% of clients in Housing First programs were Indigenous. Indigenous-led and delivered services that provide access to Elders, and healing and wellness practitioners as part of supports, will continue to be a priority across the homeless-serving system. Morning Fire Protector has a cultural support worker to connect residents with cultural and ceremonial teachings, as well as engaging with Elders. Bent Arrow’s Indigenous Housing First team ensures that cultural supports are available to the participants they serve, and they coordinate and provide access to supports for other teams in the community.”

These are very needed resources in the indigenous communities, and certainly these resources are critical to the community at large as well, so the plan update calls for increased access to increased support resources in mental health, addiction, trauma and wellness services.

Public Education and Awareness
The Plan update recognizes the need for a social marketing campaign, as a way for people and communities to understand the impacts of poverty and unstable housing on people and families, so that they are better prepared to participate in solutions even on a local level.

The report states: “Edmontonians consider ending homelessness an important priority; many are engaged as volunteers, advocates, and donors. While this has been critical to our success, we know that ongoing public education and awareness about homelessness will help challenge myths and opposition to proposed Plan efforts, particularly in the location of new affordable and permanent supportive housing. We will continue to develop targeted and ongoing public marketing campaigns working with the media, business sector, faith community, volunteers, and Indigenous leaders to enhance public understanding about homelessness and challenge reactive approaches to this complex social issue.”

Staff and steering committee members from CRIHI have been in conversation with the City of Edmonton and other partners about the need for this for some time now, and are eager to assist in this important effort.  CRIHI’s efforts at public education via our regional workshops are mentioned in the report.

Homelessness numbers

Areas of possible engagement for faith communities:
1. Connect with local social workers or service providers, and offer to provide a fund to help them intervene before individuals or families are evicted.  Have a conversation.  Build trust and understanding, and find opportunities together.
2. Make room for supportive relationships to grow.  Consider hosting mental health, or grief and trauma workshops, or Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous circles.  Host parenting or marriage support groups.
3. November is Housing Month.  Watch for news and educational efforts on housing by CRIHI and other partners.  Read.  Share.  Talk about it.  Invite CRIHI to visit your faith community to learn about the need and how we can respond.  Website still being updated for 2017: housingmonth.ca
4. Creating more affordable housing will help prevent people and families from falling into crisis. If you or your faith community has access to land, consider working with non-profit developers to build or incorporate affordable housing.
5.  If you are a landlord, consider connecting with housing providers.  Talk with them about possible ways you could make room for to someone who needs help affording a home.

Access the full plan update report at the following link:

https://interfaithhousinginitiative.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/edmonton-update-plan-july-2017-full-booklet-web.pdf

 

 

Religious and spiritual communities working to end homelessness in Edmonton and area

%d bloggers like this: