Category Archives: Events and workshops

Understanding Harm Reduction and Abstinence – Learnings from our public conversation

On November 19, 2019 Edmonton’s Interfaith Housing Initiative hosted a public conversation on harm reduction and abstinence at Beth Israel Synagogue on Edmonton’s west side.

Our shared goal was to come to a shared understanding of how harm reduction and abstinence approaches work to support a person with an addiction on their road to recovery.

We heard from people with lived experience of addictions at various stages in their recovery; speaking to their story and what was helpful or unhelpful to them along the way.

We heard from professionals in the field overseeing addictions work in a supportive housing facility or in abstinence-based treatment programs, and those working as peer support workers with both experience and a positive view of both harm reduction and abstinence-based approaches.

And we heard from each other as participants, together seeking wisdom on how to walk with, support and encourage loved ones on a painful and difficult journey.

The bottom line in our learning together:

Treating harm reduction and abstinence approaches as polarized extremes is unhelpful.  Both approaches are important and necessary to support a person with an addiction; even helping someone at different stages of their journey, and both work toward the same goal: the healing and restoration of the person.


Please note: This discussion focused less on harm reduction and abstinence practices in Emergency Response (such as safe injection sites and shelters) and more on Accommodation and Supports (such as affordable and supportive housing) as illustrated below; seeking to learn what best helps people recover from addictions and related concerns.

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The stories we heard showed why both approaches were necessary and helpful in some circumstances.

In the abstinence stream, we heard examples from the drug court, where a person might be unable to visit or regain custody of their child until they were able to stabilize and stay clean of their addiction.  Prison provided some with a wake-up call and set them on a path of abstinence that they were able to maintain on the outside.  We heard about sober-living facilities that provided on-site controls that were both wanted and needed by their residents.  Some supportive housing facilities even had a harm reduction focus but took an abstinence approach on drugs and alcohol.  And too, we heard the need for more such places; housing with supports for people with complex needs that maintained a substance-free environment.

In the harm reduction stream, we heard about a managed alcohol program where participants are given measured amounts of alcohol every few hours to help with their cravings.  Peer support workers talked about building relationships and trust with people to help them succeed one step at a time, in attending dentist appointments and court dates, learning budgeting and self-care, and as they are ready in challenging their addictions.   Permanent Supportive Housing facilities served as another example as their approach helps people who are pretty fragile.  People with a lack of physical or mental health, and facing these in combination with poverty, homelessness and trauma have little strength to tackle something as significant as an addiction.  But provided with safe and stable housing, healthy food, medical care and support workers these folks gradually get stronger.  Many can find the strength to challenge their addictions and become abstinent.


Our keynote speaker, Karen Bruno stressed the need to break from an ‘either this or that’ mentality.  She noted that both philosophies emphasize reducing harm in what someone is experiencing.  She then talked about recovery and medical models.

The recovery model places the individual at the centre of the journey in setting goals and making decisions.  They are encouraged to make goals, supported in reaching them, and constantly challenged to reach higher and pursue the next goal.

The medical model involves experts telling someone what they have to do.  A level of outside control is in place to protect the person and push change.

Karen observed that the goals are the same, but how they approach the work is different.  Some people need the medical model and some people need the recovery model.  She stressed the need for a fluid practice that responds to people with the different helps that will work best for them.

Watch Karen’s full keynote address in the video below.

Here are five points of clarity that emerged in our conversations:

  1. Abstinence and harm reduction approaches both work toward the same goal: the restoring, strengthening, and healing of a person. Both approaches emphasize reducing harm and achieving abstinence or greater self-control.
  2. No one succeeds alone. Human connection and encouragement is necessary.  “Who helped me along the way? – people who were stable and sober and never gave up on me.”
  3. One size does not fit all. Harm reduction approaches work well for some and others need abstinence.  Most of the time, a person will need and respond to a combination of both.
  4. A flexible and fluid practice that incorporates both approaches is needed to meet people where they are, with the kinds and combinations of treatment that will best help them.
  5. Both models are powerful, but both take time. Relapses are part of the journey and the accompanying emotional journey is very difficult.  “It takes years for trauma to take form, it can take years for it to be resolved.”

Our panelists helped draw out some of these insights.  Watch their conversation in the video below.

How do we best help people on a path to recovery from an addiction?


In Pursuit of a fluid approach:

We need to be ready to accompany people on a very complex journey.  There are challenges that surge forward when someone finds themselves suddenly sober.  Rob Gurney, a peer support worker with Alberta Health Services noted that “Stabilization is wonderful, but then emotions come out and they fail.”  He stressed that if we’re not there to help with the emotional challenges that come out after someone stabilizes in their addiction, then we are only setting them up for failure.

Every approach should be trauma Informed.  An experience of trauma is often at the root of addiction, with substance use an attempt to drown or bury the pain experienced.  Trauma from sexual abuse, isolation or abandonment, violence, growing up with addicted parents in an unstable home, spending time in homelessness, being forcibly separated from family, negative experiences in the foster care system or residential schools…  people’s pain comes from many places.

Resist Warehousing.  People are used to being put in a docking pen and being treated all the same.  We need to strengthen efforts to see and respond to someone at a personal level.

Create a recovery culture.  One of our table groups, reflecting on our learnings together, made the following list that perhaps describes some of the ingredients for such a recovery culture:  “Community; support; acceptance; purpose; healing; choice; love; compassion”

Provide for closer and longer-lasting connections.  This can/should include more formal supports like peer support workers, trained staff (including some whose experience and learning is off the street), access to professional counselors, as well as supportive natural connections like friends, family and faith community relationships.

Creating places and spaces.  Long waiting lists for affordable and supportive housing are known to be a significant enemy of a person’s recovery.  Addressing that shortage is critical.  But we also discussed the need to think creatively in how we design these spaces, so they meet formal safety requirements, but feel more home-like, supporting a person’s sense of worth and dignity.  Even the look of a place, with white walls and locked doors can trigger trauma for those who may have spend a lot of time in hospitals or jails.  Getting residents involved in painting or redesigning  elements of the space is one strategy that has been helpful.

Strengthening a rapid response system.  Current efforts are hampered by various agencies and ministries working in silos.  This slows the work and makes the needed help difficult to access.  Waiting lists for help are also a significant concern, and people in addictions may take serious damage while on a long list.

Beware of stigmas that can get in the way.  If a person has to go to the Hospital because they are unwell, they may face the discrimination that they are drug-seeking, with medical staff reluctant to give them the needed medication.

Give people time to heal for lasting change.  Intergenerational poverty and trauma both have strong roots in a person’s character.  They formed over the course of many years, and it may take many years for healing and change and for new roots to be set down.  If housing and supports are taken away prematurely a person can fall all the way back down.  And the work really does take time.  Pamela Spurvey, a peer support worker with Alberta Health Services, described how it took her eight months to get someone to the dentist, and when her friend got there she curled up in a ball on the floor), but with that one step (and one victory) at a time approach her friend was improving.

Flexibility and Fit.  The managed alcohol program at the Grand Manor (Excel Society) was discussed as an example of a strong program in a supportive housing environment, but Becky Elkew, the director of care acknowledges it is not for everyone.  People who want to binge drink are not likely to succeed.  Intake staff really try to ensure the program fits with someone’s goals (including asking whether the bright liquor store sign across the street will be a problem).  Grand Manor has some flexibility built in to help people one on one if they need that, accommodating either abstinence or harm reduction approaches in different parts of the facility.

Providing for Hope.  We acknowledged that so many on the streets were really very strong; living in tents but coming three times a day to get their medication.  Supporting and encouraging these folks involves recognizing that strength and refusing to give up on them.  A spiritual care reinforcement is often an enormous help for people trying find hope and strength to heal from wounds in their past.


The panel took questions from our participants that generated a few more insights.  Watch the following video to see that exchange:

How do I or someone I love find access to existing resources in Edmonton.  Call Continuing care access – 780.496.1300; *211 for more information


A Closing Reflection from one of our participants:

“There is a stigma around mental health and addiction that keeps people in the shadows, without community, without support and it needs to be brought to light for things to change. Challenges that remain hurdles include facing stigma, negative messaging, judgment, living in silos, complex systems with complex paperwork, stains on records, work histories, trauma, waiting lists, transportation costs, intergenerational poverty, lack of support resources and more.”  – Jesse Edgington, Participating on behalf of the Northern Alberta Deaconal Conference.


Recognizing this stigma and the barriers to understanding so many of our brothers and sisters with addictions face, musician Roylin Picou chose to close our gathering with the song, Tear that curtain down; a reflection on Martin Luther King’s reaction to the curtain that used to separate people of colour from the caucasian population on public transit.  You can hear Roylin perform this song in another setting via the following video.


This summary of learnings is provided by Interfaith Housing Initiative with gratitude to Karen Bruno, our panelists, to the people with lived experience who shared their story, and to the many participants who joined us for a rich evening of learning.  Special gratitude to the Beth Israel Synagogue for their hospitality and to Paula Kirman for providing video footage for our event.

Pathways to Recovery; Understanding Harm Reduction and Abstinence – November 19, 2019

Opioid and alcohol abuse impact every community, with people losing years of their lives to powerful addictions; or losing loved ones to dark places and even to death.  Finding effective help and healing for those we love also matters to every community.

CRIHI recognizes that access to a safe and stable place to live is a key pillar of that help. But what kind of helps and supports do we need to provide on top of that, and what is truly helpful from the perspective of the person most trying to heal?

Come join the conversation as we consider these big questions together. Our journey to a shared understanding will be led by people with lived experiences, and those working to help them from using both harm reduction and abstinence approaches.

Pathways to Recovery; Understanding Harm Reduction and Abstinence


Tuesday, November 19, 2019 from 6-9 pm at Beth Israel Synagogue (131 Wolf Willow Rd. Edmonton)   To register, please visit our eventbrite at the following link:  Pathways to Recovery


Our keynote address will be provided by Karen Bruno.
Karen is a Cree women from Treaty 6 Territory. As a lived experience and professional experience person, she is known for her advocacy and networking skills. She has had over 27 years to help influence, communicate on community and social issues. Also known for her creative thinking and problem solving ability.
Karen currently works as a site manager in transitional housing that focuses on a Harm reduction and Trauma informed practice with a hard to house population.


In this public conversation we seek to build a shared understanding of:

  1. The workings of MAPs and MOPS (Managed Alcohol and Managed Opioid programs)
  2. What’s working to support people on their roads to recovery.
  3. The pillar of Housing First and the need for Permanent supportive housing.
  4. The need for wrap around community supports and care.

Program

  • 5:45 Doors open and guest sign-in
  • 6:15 Buffet dinner served (Kosher and with Gluten free and vegetarian options provided)
  • 6:40 Opening reflection and prayer
  • 6:45 Keynote address by Karen Bruno
  • 7:05 Table conversations hearing from people with lived experience of homelessness and addictions and reflecting on their respective journeys to recovery.
  • 7:40 Panel conversation hearing the voices of those working to support a person’s recovery using both abstinence and recovery approaches.
  • 8:05 Questions for the panel
  • 8:15 Table conversations to process learnings and key insights.
  • 8:40 Sharing of table learnings with the larger group.
  • 8:50 Closing reflection and adjournment

Dinner and childcare are provided free of charge for all participants.

Understanding and Responding to Nimbyism (Not in My Back Yard)

As cities all over North America work to provide low-income households a safe and affordable home, they face numerous persistent barriers.  These include the high cost of land, the search for funding for development, policy and zoning, and a very human challenge: Nimbyism in the local community.

Here’s a story to illustrate the challenge of Nimbyism:
A few years ago, I ran into an old friend at a consultation for a new affordable housing complex proposed for her neighbourhood, and asked her what she thought.  She said, “Look, I get it that everyone needs a place to live, and that we need more places like this, but here?  On the corner of my park?  My kids have to walk past there all the time on their way to school.”

Now I know my friend to be a caring and compassionate person, and a great mom.  But faced with this change, she had a strong reaction; one sometimes referred to in shorthand as a NIMBY reaction:  “Not In My Back Yard.”

On May 14, 2019, the Interfaith Housing Initiative hosted a workshop at Queen Alexandra Community League called “Understanding and Responding to Nimbyism.”  This was the third of four workshops in a series called, “Getting Consultation Right!”  This event featured two panels of speakers, including three housing providers and two community leaders all willing to share their experience and insight in how to both understand and respond to Nimbyism.    You can watch the full panel discussion at the link below, or keep reading for a summary of key points:

Here is some of what we learned together:

How can we understand Nimbyism?
Here is a working definition we are using:  Nimbyism (Not in My Back Yard)  is a (sometimes) strong reaction or response to more significant changes in a local area; especially those perceived as possibly negative.

So how should we understand why people react as they do?
In our second panel discussion, Fraser Porter, the current president of the Edmonton Federation of Community leagues observed that “Love and attachment are the root causes. We love our neighbourhoods and we resist change because we worry something we love is being lost.”

That natural fear of change was also noted by Carola Cunningham, who serves as CEO of Niginan Developments, a provider of Permanent Supportive Housing.  Cunnningham noted that “it is only natural to object and respond with fear to the unknown (color, culture, addiction, etc) and all those things must be meaningfully addressed to have an honest dialogue.

Certainly, the love for what we have and the fear of losing it are very powerful impulses. Some of those fears may be connected to structural changes to infrastructure such as parking and traffic flow, the fit and flow of architecture, the loss of trees or open spaces.  But other fears may centre around who the new neighbours might be, and how they will integrate into the local community.

Q: How can we respond well to Nimbyism?
The answer that seemed to come forward from our panelists was to respond to fears with clear, honest and open communication; working to build both a shared understanding and a trusting relationship moving forward.  To do that, the housing provider should avoid thinking about or treating local neighbours as opponents, even if there are strong feelings or anger.  As with all relationships, how we conduct ourselves in the midst of conflict can either inflame or resolve concerns.

Sherri Shorten, a community voice from Holyrood said it was important to “Believe in the community voice. The people in our community were hurt by being called NIMBY. It broke down relationships when they were bringing truly valid concerns to the table.” 

Cam McDonald from Right at Home Housing Society noted that:  “What was important in the North Glenora context was an openness on both sides. What I learned was just how much the community was willing to give to create a shared vision and understanding.

Demonstrating openness and a will to patiently answer people’s questions makes room for trust, and for the community to also give of themselves to the health of the project and their new neighbours.

Consultation pic

Q: Is it problematic to tell the community about the health problems of residents?
At one level, even talking about who is going to live in a new housing development seems problematic.  In Canada, no one has the right to choose their neighbours, and discrimination based on age, ability, illness, race or culture, or religious belief is not permitted.  But our panelists responded in favour of answering those questions openly and honestly.

“It can be heard in comments like, “How do you screen your tenants? How do you ensure our community remains safe?  At my house I don’t get to pick who is my next-door neighbour. The zoning bylaw is very clear. It’s not about the USER, its about the USE. However, its so important that you don’t offend the people you’re talking to. You do have to address their concerns.” (Cam Macdonald, Right at Home Housing Society)

Trueman Macdonald, who oversees the work at Iris Court a supportive home for formerly homeless persons with schizophrenia shared their approach:  “We actually saw it as an opportunity to educate the community as well. It was just natural for us to talk about it. Our whole mandate is advocacy and breaking down those barriers. Our people with lived experience want to get their stories out to reduce the stigma surrounding their illness.”

Addressing people’s concerns with patience and respect is the best way to help them better understand and put their fears and concerns into context.  It also paves the way for understanding and healthy long-term relationships in the local community.

A very helpful tool in this regard are Good Neighbour Agreements.  With Iris Court, the Schizophrenia society provided a detailed “Good Neighbour Agreement” to the local community that included info regarding tenants, services, house rules, and how the organization planned to respond to community complaints.  Having a clear plan and a process available showed the community the strength of Iris Court’s commitment to being a good neighbour.  It also helped the tenants feel safe and secure in their new community.

The Nimby response is a very ordinary and human reaction to change in a local community.  Good consultation takes the time to work through people’s questions and concerns openly and honestly, without judging them or treating them as opponents.  A patient approach builds toward a trusting relationship between the local community and the developer.  In the space of that relationship, honest and constructive engagement is able to flow, supporting the long-term health and vitality of the project, the local community, and those finding a home there.


By Mike Van Boom, Network Animator for Interfaith Housing Initiative (CRIHI)

The article is presented as a summary of key learnings in this third, of four workshops in a resource design project hosted by CRIHI, involving community leaders, housing providers and people of faith in a collaborative creation of consultation resources.   The full resources we have developed together will be delivered in the fall of 2019; made possible by a grant from the Edmonton Community Foundation, with Al Rashid Mosque serving as fiscal agent for the project.

Interfaith Habitat Works – Wrap-up Party!

Habitat for Humanity Edmonton and the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative are celebrating the success of the 8th Annual Interfaith Works Project with a Wrap Up Ceremony that will include speakers and lunch!

It’s been an eventful three months with hundreds of volunteers from many different faith communities working together in a common cause: building homes for low-income families!  Come join us as we celebrate together!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at Carter Place (2216 – 24 Street NW)

Ceremony begins at 11:30 sharp, so please come a little early so you can find parking*.  And of course, please plan to join us for lunch!

Carter Place Map

*Parking is only available on side streets around the development.

To RSVP by email, contact: volunteer@hfh.org | T: (780) 451-3416 x 222

Faith Leaders Work Day with Habitat for Humanity! – May 1, 2019

Calling all Rabbis, Imams, Pastors, Priests, and Gurus!  CRIHI invites you to take up hammers and paint brushes for our first ever…

Faith Leaders Work Day!


Wednesday, May 1, 2019; From 8:30 am – 4:00 pm at Carter Place

With the help of thousands of volunteers from every skill level and background, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton has provided over 500 families with a hand-up into home ownership.

This year, we asked ourselves, what would happen if we had all kinds of different faith leaders working together at on the big Habitat build site at Carter Place?

Our answer:  Who knows?!  But it would likely be a lot of fun!
So here’s the formal call to faith leaders from every tradition to take a day on May 1st and come join us.


To sign up:
1. Please rsvp to mike@interfaithhousing.ca,
2. Register with our faith leader’s work group (group name: Interfaith Works 2019) on May 1 according to the instructions below:Here’s the link to get started, with the steps to register below:
https://www.hfh.org/volunteer/



If you have any questions about your registration, please contact:
Megan Stannard at mstannard@hfh.org or 780-451-3416 x 237


May 1, 2019 – Instructions for the day!

Affordable Housing Bus Tour!

On Thursday morning, September 20, several faith leaders and community partners went together on a tour of six different affordable housing complexes.

The tour was organized in partnership with the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homeless (ECOHH).  ECOHH is a broad gathering of service providers and stakeholders in Edmonton working together to promote strong and effective solutions in housing and homelessess.  For the last few years, ECOHH has organized tours for politicians and government administration.  This tour organized with CRIHI for faith and community leaders was the first of its kind, and was very appreciated by those who attended.  To learn more about ECOHH, please visit their website at http://ecohh.ca


First stop, Canora Place (10141 153 Street)

Canora Place is Permanent Supportive Housing, level 1, which means it has staff on site twenty four hours a day, but hosts no permanent supports.  Many of her clients are with Housing First, so they receive support from a mobile team of workers, and access many services off-site.  Canora Place is connected with the Jasper Place Wellness Centre and her network of social enterprises in West Edmonton.
Learn more at: http://www.jpwc.ca

Second Stop:  Jeannette Romaniuk residence for families.  (12304 Fort Road)
Finding an affordable home for a large family is a challenge in Edmonton.  The Romaniuk residences operated by Right at Home Housing Society are 4-unit townhouse project for large families. The townhouses offer 5-bedroom units, a rarity in Edmonton’s affordable housing market. These homes opened in July 2012, in the community of Elmwood Park. Rents currently do not exceed 60% of average market rental rates.

Third Stop:  Pregnancy Pathways
A safe place and a care centre for pregnant mothers living on the street or in crisis.  Many of these moms battle active addictions.  Pregnancy Pathways offers a safe and supportive place for mother and child in the months building up to and following childbirth.  This helps both mother and child get the best possible start.  The building (worth $3M) was donated for use by the program in March of 2018 by Architect Gene Dub.  The program is supported out of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre.  Learn more by visiting their website: http://www.bmhc.net/pregnancy-pathways.html

Fourth Stop:  Sundance Place, Cooperative Housing

Sundance formed as a cooperative housing association in 1978 in Edmonton’s Riverdale Community.  In cooperative housing, members participate in decisions and responding to needs that emerge.  Three projects are governed by Sundance: Sundance Main (59 townhouses including three wheelchair accessible units), Sundance Expansion (three duplexes and one fourplex) & Sundance Place (nine apartments for members 55 and older).  The units above provide home for many of the cooperatives senior residents.

Fifth Stop:  A Youth Housing Group Home.  (Operated by E4C)
A renovated older house in the parkdale community provides home to teens in crisis.  Young people may find themselves homeless for many reasons, often related to conflict in the home.  A team of staff people helps these young people with a bedroom, shared cooking areas, and support connecting with schooling, job training or counselling.

Sixth Stop:  Ambrose Place, Permanent Supportive Housing
Ambrose Place (below) is a level four PSH, which means it has the highest level of support on site for residents.  Food, health care, addictions support, managed alcohol, and even palliative care services (where necessary) are provided on site.  As a facility with an Indigenous focus, Ambrose Place is also able to practice spiritual care as part of a person’s journey of healing.  Facilities like Ambrose Place are proving to be very effective in helping some of Edmonton’s hardest to house, and chronically homeless citizens.

CRIHI would like to offer special thanks to Jeannette Wright (ECOHH, and City of Edmonton) for arranging the bus and lining up the tour for us.  We are also grateful to our partners at ECOHH and to each of the six locations that opened their doors, and sometimes their living rooms so we could see how this form of help is working in our community.

Edmonton Faith Communities Talk Housing – Event report

On September 6, 2018, Edmonton’s Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative (CRIHI) welcomed representatives from all three levels of government, and all political parties to discuss how we could respond together to the current shortage of affordable and supportive housing in Edmonton, and across the country.

The turnout from faith communities was strong, as was the participation of political representatives from the three levels of government.  Many participants shared their view that this was a very meaningful and informative gathering.  Here is what we did together:

We heard spokespersons from five different traditions speak to how their communities were impacted by current housing challenges.  (videos will be uploaded as they are completed)

  1. Rev. Deborah Hoekstra (United Church of Canada) – CRIHI co-chair
  2. Rev. Rick Chapman (Anglican Diocese of Edmonton) – CRIHI co-chair
  3. Imam Dr. Amin (Rahma Mosque; Muslim Association of Canada)
  4. Russell Auger (Indigenous spiritual care provider at Ambrose Place)
  5. Rev. Menghisteab Teclemariam (Pastor in the Eretrian community; Multicultural Health Brokers)

Following this, CRIHI spokesperson Mike Van Boom presented on the four critical priorities being forwarded as necessary and meaningful housing solutions.

  1. The Portable Housing Benefit
  2. Permanent Supportive Housing
  3. Mobile Support Workers
  4. A Vision for the Way Ahead

Following a brief coffee break, we spent thirty minutes hearing from people with lived experience at local tables.

CRIHI’s partners from the Mustard Seed, Welcome Home, Ambrose Place, Multicultural Health Brokers and E4C arranged for twelve people at different tables.  This was a very meaningful portion of the event, and highlighted successes, challenges and needs of people trying to find their way.

CRIHI then invited five political representatives to respond on behalf of their party or government.  Videos of their responses are below:

Michael Walters, Edmonton City Council

Randy Boissonault, Liberal Party of Canada (Federal)

Garnett Genuis, Conservative Party of Canada (Federal)

Lori Sigurdson, New Democratic Party (Provincial)

Laila Goodridge, United Conservative Party (Provincial)

A note of thanksgiving!

CRIHI would like to express enormous gratitude to the many partners who helped make this event a great success.  Special thanks to our hosts at Evangel Pentecostal Assembly, who donated their space and the time of their staff.  Our gratitude to the political representatives who joined us to learn, to share their interest and give voice to the perspective of their respective political bodies.  And our gratitude to the several faith communities who donated the food and refreshments that greatly enhanced our time together.

Evangel Front

Evangel Pentecostal Assembly…  very gracious hosts to this gathering!


For an additional writeup of this event, please look at the October 2018 Messenger (Anglican Diocese); the feature is on pages 1,6&7.  The link is here.

Edmonton Faith Communities Talk Housing – September 6, 2018

The Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative has invited representatives from all three levels of government, and all political parties to join us on September 6, 2018 as we discuss how to respond together to the current shortage of affordable and supportive housing in Edmonton, and across the country.

At this meeting, many different faith traditions (Muslim, Jewish, Evangelical, Catholic, Anglican, Sikh, Unitarian, Hindu, Lutheran, Christian Reformed, Mennonite, Quaker, Indigenous and numerous other traditions) will stand up together to express their shared concern about a growing challenge impacting friends, family members and neighbours in all our communities: affording a place to call home.

This event will take place at Evangel Pentecostal Assembly from 10am until 1:30pm.

evangel map

Space is limited.  To attend: please register at the following link:  Edmonton Faith Communities Talk Housing


At this event, CRIHI will speak to the following as critical priorities in addressing the current shortage of affordable and supportive housing in Edmonton:

  1. the Portable Housing Benefit. A direct help for the 20,000+ households paying more than 50% of monthly income to rent.
  2. Land, capital, and Long-term support funding for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). PSH has proven itself as direct and effective help for Edmonton’s most vulnerable citizens; providing those with multiple complex needs with appropriate longer-term support and care.
  3. Increased funding for Mobile Support Workers (Ie. Home Care, Housing First support teams)
  4. A vision for the way ahead: Support and encourage Canadian housing providers to shift efforts toward the Netherlands model*.

*Observation: in the Netherlands, housing providers currently house more than sixty percent of the country’s population in sustainable mixed market developments with breakdowns such as: 20% low income; 60% middle income; 20% high income. In these developments, high income housing helps pay for the low income housing to make it a sustainable model for market development. This system required some start up support, but now requires no government funding!


To volunteer for this event (to help with food, hospitality, or audio/visual), or if you are a faith leader willing to speak briefly to the need your community sees in housing, please contact mike@interfaithhousing.ca.

 

Learning from Good Consultation

Mayor Don Iveson called the Westmount development a ’10 out of 10!’ Not just for the quality of the affordable housing project, but for the work done engaging with the local community ahead of time.

Come join with other developers, community leaders, and faith representatives as we learn from one of the brightest examples of community consultation done well here in Edmonton: the process developed by both community leaders and the Right at Home Housing Society in North Glenora as part of the recent redevelopment of land owned by Westmount Presbyterian Church


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

  • ARCA Banquet Facility; 14525 127 Street Northwest; Edmonton, AB T6V 0B3
  • Doors open at 6:00pm with a light supper beginning at 6:30pm ;
  • event concludes at 8:30pm
  • We have space and food for fifty participants, so a timely rsvp is encouraged.

Agenda features the following:

Keynote address by Andrew Gregory

Andrew is the community member who chaired the committee overseeing the process used to guide the consultation with the North Glenora community.

Panel discussion with Q&A to follow

Featuring: Cam McDonald (Right at Home Housing Society), Andrew Gregory, Les Young (Westmount Presbyterian Church), and Ryan Young (Past President, North Glenora Community League)

Following the panel discussion, organizers will discuss a consultation resource development project being initialized with grant funding from the Edmonton Community Foundation.

Faith Communities interested in exploring redeveloping of their land are also encouraged to attend, both to learn and to network with others exploring a similar journey.

Please RSVP for this event at the following link: RSVP – Learning from Good Consultation


CRIHI thanks the following partners in hosting and promoting this event:  Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, Al Rashid Mosque, Right at Home Housing Society, and Edmonton Community Foundation. 

Cheering on the work underway

A second reflection; As shared by Rabbanit Batya Ivry-Friedman at the Interfaith Work and Pray gathering at City Hall on March 27, 2018.

Right now, we see a lot of good work underway, and much to celebrate.  Of course we have a ways to go.  When the ten year plan to end homelessness came forward nine years ago, it identified a strong need for permanent supportive housing.  Functioning much like seniors assisted living facilities, these places assist people with numerous complex barriers; addictions, trauma, mental health barriers, disabilities, and chronic illnesses.  The plan called for a thousand units.  We have built just over two hundred.  A lack of land and funding continue to be the major barriers holding up the work.

We see fear and frustration in local communities.  Racism and classism, a fear of change and a fear of the future are undercurrents that spark higher levels of tension in community discussions.  And of course when consultation is not done well there is a lot of frustration. But that’s the bad news, the good news is that we as a city have a short string of successes behind us recently; with healthy community consultation showing itself to be a key factor! There are some signs of warmth and a willingness to discuss the building of new affordable and supportive housing in communities around the city.  Small fires burning; speaking a message of hospitality and inclusion that can be nurtured and grown.

As people of faith, we can help nurture those small fires; by supporting a healthy and respectful conversation in the local community.  We are even receiving calls from developers looking for some wisdom on how to do this well. The Interfaith Housing Initiative has the opportunity before us now to lead in the possible development of community consultation resources with partners like Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and property developers.  Gathering a diverse group of people with different ideas together to create something beautiful together can be challenging, however with the potential to do something meaningful and powerful, there is hope, and of course prayers can only help make it more successful.

Another significant challenge is finding land to build affordable or supportive housing.  It’s going to take many compassionate and discerning eyes looking in our neighbourhoods to see the opportunities.  Thankfully, we have a growing number of faith communities coming forward to explore opportunities with their land; to do something like what Westmount Presbyterian did!  It’s an exciting new energy, but also hard work ahead.  How can we support more of our faith communities in having that conversation, and then supporting them to get there?

We are encouraged to see some of the City’s current policy work.  It’s even in their title; discussing the work of creating inclusive, diverse and complete communities.  And City Council is actively backing the creation of better affordable and supportive housing options in neighbourhoods all over the city; recognizing it is not good practice to heavily concentrate services and supports in a few neighbourhoods.  As city efforts and policies gel, we need a lot of wisdom; balancing a defense of the vulnerable with supporting a sensible and constructive path to healthy integration in the local community.

We have reason to cheer on the work taking place; but recognize an urgent need to pray as well.  That’s why we are gathered here today. To ensure that the necessary relationships are forged; that good work is done; that solid commitments are made; that wisdom prevails over fear and suspicion; and that meaningful real-life solutions will take form with as much haste as can be mustered.

Following this reflection, prayers were offered for wisdom to guide current efforts