Category Archives: Meeting Summaries

Summary of IFHI’s quarterly Plenary Meetings

What’s Your Wisdom on Affordable Housing? – Mill Woods!

CRIHI is hosting a workshop on Affordable Housing in Mill Woods on Saturday, April 29 from 1-4pm.  We have invited local community leagues and neighbours, faith communities, and local service providers.

If you call Mill Woods your home, or your faith community is rooted there, or you have friends and neighbours living in this area, please encourage them to participate.  We have much to learn from each other when we take time to listen and share ideas and perspectives.

The Muslim Community will be providing refreshments for the workshop, and we look forward to tasting their hospitality.  We hope for a strong and diverse turnout of people and voices, so we can generate some good community wisdom together!

HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

Housingworkshop flyer

 

City updating Plan to End Homelessness

In 2009, the Edmonton Committee to End Homelessness released A Place to Call Home: Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. The report calls for a transition from managing homelessness to ending it, using housing and supports.

The plan has five main goals, which are detailed below.

  1. Provide permanent housing options for all people living on the street and in public places.
  2. Ensure an adequate supply of permanent, affordable housing with appropriate supports for people who are homeless.
  3. Ensure emergency accommodation is available when needed, but transition people quickly into permanent housing.
  4. Prevent people from becoming homeless.
  5. Establish a governance structure and an implementation process for the plan.

Recently, City Council unanimously voted for a new plan to house the chronically homeless population.

      This vote came after a report showing that while the City of Edmonton has made progress on short-term housing, it has added just 213 of the 1,000 permanent housing units identified as needed in a 2009 report. According to Mayor Don Iveson, the shortfall is a result of a lack of funding from other levels of government. Iveson argues that improved access to affordable housing will help to offset other community costs such as policing, healthcare and social disorder and is a good investment into the health of Edmonton’s economy.
The City of Edmonton and Homeward Trust are holding public consultation sessions, giving the public the opportunity to provide information and input into an update of the Plan. The sessions are open to the public and have themes related to access to housing and basic needs. I hope that interest in these sessions is widespread and that all participants come with an open mind and with a focus on the best interests of the homeless population of Edmonton.
All residents of Edmonton deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, to have access to supports they need to excel in their daily lives, to have access to safe, secure and stable housing and to feel included and involved in their communities. These public consultations are a step in the right direction to ensure that all people of Edmonton have access to these experiences and that their basic housing needs are met.
By Heather Curtis: Research Coordinator at the Edmonton Social Planning Council(ESPC)
Visit ESPC at their website:  http://edmontonsocialplanning.ca/

Mark talks Housing

My name is Mark.  I am 13 years old I am in grade eight.  I feel so blessed and excited as our family will take this new chapter of our life. I am so grateful that we are now part of the community that helps many families reach their dreams.  Today is the day we’ve been waiting for.mark-13-habitat

      Having a home is having a strong foundation especially for every child. I describe home as the starting place of love, hope, and dreams. A home is a place where I feel the love of my family, relatives, and friends. This is where I learn how to become a better person every day. This is where I get my energy to get through another day. This is a place of hope where I learn how to get back on my feet, when things are not going well, and having that hope that tomorrow will be better day. This is where my dream of becoming a basketball player someday starts, because I have a place where I can spend watching my favourite sports on TV and do my research on how to enhance my skills in basketball. Having a home is everything to me.  This is where I build myself as a person to become a good citizen today and in the future.
      Moving to a new place means meeting new friends and being in a new community. I just moved to a new school nearby, and at a very short time I have gained new friends already. My family and I are looking forward to know our new neighbours and friends. I am also looking forward to have my very own room for the very first time and this is really exciting for me.

      With all the hard work and passion of all the people who work together to make this possible to us and other families, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. A decent shelter to our family is finally a dream come true. To all the volunteers and donors for your never ending and generous support of Habitat for Humanity – a big and warm thank you! Thank you, Habitat for this wonderful opportunity!

Want to help out?  This year, Habitat for Humanity is building 150 homes across Canada; 75 of these are here in Edmonton.  This year’s Interfaith Habitat Works is from February 23-April 27.  It’s not too late!  Grab a few friends from your faith communities, your workplace or neighbourhood and come work for a day.

Here’s the poster with this year’s details:

habitat-interfaith-most-recent 

 

Homeless Count 2016 brings some good news!

Over two hundred volunteers partnered with agencies and city staff to do Homeless Count 2016.

The task, as always is challenging, but teams of volunteers hit the streets and alleys, shelters, and walked the river valleys to engage with people in need. The count is an important tool for Canada’s cities, as it helps different levels of government see where needs are being met or missed, and how better to respond.

The Homeless Count is never able to capture the whole picture, as it is difficult to measure the hidden homeless, but the information helps inform decisions. This year’s numbers show that some of Edmonton’s hard work is paying off.

2016 Count: 1,752 is a 43% decrease over the previous year.

70% of these are chronically homeless.

Indigenous: 48% (Pop 5%)

Veterans: 70 veterans of military or RCMP

Unsheltered:  22% 374

Emergency Sheltered: 43% 745

Provisionally Accommodated: 36% – 633

Men 74%

Women 25%

LGBTQ 1%

Families – success! 246 housed between January 2015 to March 2016.  We saw a 51% decrease in homeless families from 2014 to 2016.

Youth – 240 counted in 2014; 129 counted in 2016

Here are a few front line stories from volunteers who participated in the count:

“I spoke with a man who had been homeless for 20 years. He is now in subsidized housing and no longer an alcoholic, and he mentioned being helped along the way by Homeward Trust. He spoke about the difficulties of getting off the streets but still having homeless friends, and being around people who still abuse. It was a nice chat, and interesting to hear his story.”

“We were humbled by how honest the participants were …so accommodating and caring. People expressed concern for us. There is a true sense of community and helping among the homeless population of Edmonton.”

“Regardless, it was an eye-opening experience learning the hardships of constantly waiting in line for food and shelter, and not feeling independent.”

“The number of homeless people my partner and I encountered, who I’d never have guessed would be homeless based on appearances, blew me away.”

“I only got through about half a dozen surveys in the time I was at the shelter. This wasn’t because it was difficult or tedious, but because the men I spoke with were just looking to have someone listen as they shared their stories – and their stories ranged so widely, especially given the economic downturn of the past year. It was incredibly humbling just to sit there, going through the survey, yes, but the questions were just a medium and excuse to start conversations about life and experiences lived.”

“Respondents helped me to understand more of who is experiencing homelessness and why. One fellow was working in Ft. Mac and lost his truck with possessions to the fire. He has spent the last year homeless in Edmonton, struggling with his insurance company. UGH!”

“A couple of the folks had just received word that they were going to get an apartment through Housing First and were so excited! Two different respondents had dealt with homelessness in the past and received assistance from Housing First. They expressed major gratitude.”

 

Interfaith Recruiters’ Meeting

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY’S INTERFAITH WORKS PROJECT 2017 IS COMING!  FEB 23 – APRIL 27, 2017

We are mobilizing Edmonton’s faith community to come out and join us on the Habitat build and in Restores. If you are part of a faith community, we invite you to join us! Habitat for Humanity Edmonton and the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative are working together to engage Edmonton’s faith communities.

Our goal is to mobilize 500 volunteers and provide 45 lunches.

The Recruiters’ Meeting will provide information on how to sign up your faith group and promote the Interfaith Works Project.  We are gathering people from across Edmonton to recruit volunteers from their faith community.

Come and join us to find out how you can be part of this!

When: Jan 23 OR Jan 24

Time: 6-7pm

Location: 14135 128 Ave NW

RSVP: Batya@interfaithhousing.ca

interfaith-works-flyer

 

 

Edmonton’s Response in 2016: Hospitality

“Anyone coming down from Ft. Mac need a place to stay?  I have a bed and a pull-out couch at my house.  Call me!”

Facebook posts like this were common in an outpouring of support for wildfire-devastated neighbours from the north.  fleeing-wildfires

The refugee crisis from Syria and other war-torn countries also prompted an opening of borders and an outpouring of care.  What was our first instinct when seeing neighbours in crisis?  Hospitality.  By opening our doors and our communities, we gave rest to people fleeing war and wildfires.  It brought people hope, and a place to heal.

In 2017, what will prompt us to open our doors and our hearts?  Will it be a crisis somewhere across the world?  Or will it be a need close to home that claims our attention?  Be it the struggle of a young family looking for a safe and affordable home, a senior on a long waiting list, or just someone trying to find their way alone in a new place, CRIHI invites you to work with us in making 2017 a year where Edmonton’s compassion and hospitality again shine fiercely for those who need hope and home so desperately.

Riverbend & Terwillegar Talk Housing

On Saturday, October 29 from 1-4pm, CRIHI invited eight neighbourhoods in Riverbend & Terwillegar to a workshop and conversation called ‘Homes4ourNeighbours’ at Riverbend United Church.

There were about 25 people in attendance, including 15 interested neighbours. This event provided good information on affordable housing, shared frontline stories and experiences, and then gave neighbours a safe place to share their worries, concerns and ideas on how neighbours can respond to new proposals and new neighbours.

riverbend-united-churchAlthough this event had a modest turnout, there was a good cross-section of people and opinions engaged, including representatives from two community leagues (the Ridge and Riverbend), members of the Terwillegar Homeowner Association, Brander Gardens ROCKS, faith leaders, and neighbours at large. It was also a respectful conversation, taking place under rules that stated: Everyone has wisdom. We need to hear everyone’s wisdom for the best result. There are no wrong answers. And everyone will both hear and be heard.

In our December issue of the Neighbourly, and in this post CRIHI summarizes three (out of seven total) key points of conversation and what the group heard from each other. The full report is available below and includes summaries of the presentations and several additional points of conversation.  CRIHI thanks our hosts at Riverbend United Church (pictured) for their provision of space and refreshments! 

Full Report:  report-on-affordable-housing-workshop-october-29-2016-in-riverbendterwillegar

Here are three points discussed by the group:

NUMBER ONE: We need quality consultation!

group-conversationsSeveral participants in the group shared their frustration at poorly done consultation. If the developer doesn’t have a good process for engaging the community, and is unable to address reasonable concerns, that will trigger much higher levels of fear, worry and concern in the local community.

The group highlighted two positive examples of consultation done well: The Right at Home Society for its planned development of the Westmount Presbyterian Church site development in North Glenora. They spent one year in dialogue with the existing local community. It was observed that it takes a strong commitment to dialogue as communities do not naturally want to be inclusive of new/different neighbours. The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta was also highlighted as a positive example in the development of a Permanent Supportive Housing project in the Bonnie Doon area.

A healthy conversation with a diverse group of voices was identified as necessary at both planning tables and in consultations. They also advise Developers to give neighbours some choices, and to take their input into account when fine-tuning a project.

NUMBER TWO: This is What a Healthy Neighbourhood Response looks like:

Assuming the development/property management agency has engaged properly with the existing community, such a response should be:

  1. Inclusive of many perspectives, recognizing that not all are in agreement (accepting that some views may be supportive, others that are opposing, and still others that are questioning)
  2. Willing to be part of the process and to dialogue – meaning there is opportunity for all to be listened to and to be heard – to give and take. Requires respect as not everything may go ‘our way,’ but it doesn’t mean we haven’t heard or been heard.
  3. Welcoming of new neighbours, even if a process or development does not unfold as it should. Positive example: The existing community in the Haddow neighbourhood has come to a broad agreement they will accept and welcome the future new residents of the Haddow First Place development, even though the poor consultation process sparked strong resistance to the project.
  4. Connected to a neighbourhood’s story – where the look and feel of a project fits the surroundingneighbourhood so that community culture is maintained and enhanced and positive outcomes and opportunities are perceived and known.” Related idea:   A neighbourhood could benefit from the development of a “charter” of what is community (a community charter of neighborliness).”
  5. Aware of the need across the city, and our community’s responsibility to help in meeting that need. Ie. “Our responsibilities include that with the inner-city expanding, we need to promote Affordable Housing in all areas of the city” (From a Terwillegar resident)

NUMBER THREE: The Need to be Good Neighbours

“Our responsibilities should be to welcome and include our new neighbours, be open-minded without prejudice – we should assume they are good people – there are a lot of ways to get to know folks”bgrocks-drum-lesson

“We need to find ways to get to know our neighbours. An offer of free topsoil has enabled my family to get to know many neighbours whom we had never met.”

“As in the “Welcome Home (Program),” we need to welcome new neighbours to our neighbourhoods.”

“The success of “Brander Gardens Rocks” results from its being based on a reciprocal relationship between the residents of that Community Housing project and the existing residents of the surrounding community. Over the years, attitudes have changed from “us and them” to just “us” and from “we can do it for them” to “we can do it with them.” “Just because a person has a lower income doesn’t mean they don’t aspire to a better life. Many of these people want to give back.”

Existing neighbours can organize community dinners and block parties to welcome newcomers.

 

 

Upcoming Regional Workshops

Affordable Housing is a charged topic for many people; especially if there is talk of building something nearby.  It prompts all kinds of questions and concerns, and even fear in us.  This is especially true if we have little or no direct experience or knowledge of what this might mean.  So what does it mean?

Here’s the crux of it:  People need homes.  And sometimes homes are difficult to afford.  Approximately one in four Edmontonians have trouble affording housing, meaning they spend more than 30% of their monthly income on rent; with more than 40,000 households paying more than 50%.

There are many different ways to help meet the need for Affordable Housing, but the reality is that there is no one solution that addresses every situation. Responding to the needs of our neighbours involves a whole range of strategies, and supports.  While there are no specific proposals for developments that include Affordable Housing units in these areas, in the next few years and subject to approved government subsidy funding, several local neighbourhoods will be asked to open their communities to new neighbours.  These projects will take different forms, but in every case a neighbourhood will have to choose how they will respond.

To help neighbourhoods consider how they can respond, CRIHI has two workshops coming up entitled Homes 4 our Neighbours. 

Saturday, October 29 1-4pm @ Riverbend United Church

Neighbourhoods invited:  Rhatigan Ridge, Falconer Heights,  Carter Crest,  Bulyea Heights, Terwillegar Town, Greenfield, Henderson Estates, and Haddow.

Saturday, Nov. 5 1-4pm @ Bethel Community Church

Neighbourhoods invited: Kernohan, Belmont, Sifton Park, Overlanders, Canon Ridge, Bannerman, Hairsine, Kirkness

If these neighbourhoods are home for you or your faith community, please help spread the word. Invite a neighbour, and come join the conversation!   Share your perspective on how communities can respond to new projects and new neighbours finding home next door.

RSVP to Mike@interfaithhousing.ca

 

Homeless Count 2016

Homeless count 2016 is on October 19-20. Volunteer this year, and you will see firsthand that homelessness happens to all kinds of people: families, singles, young people and seniors.

How many of us have been there? Couch surfing at family or friend’s; spending a night at the shelter, or being forced to spend a night in the car. Come help gather information in this year’s homeless count so that those providing help better know where and how to respond.

Volunteers will act as enumerators, recording responses to a short survey designed to gather basic demographic information from people they encounter over the course of their shift. Teams of volunteers fan out across the city to conduct the survey on predetermined routes, including areas close to drop-in centres, libraries, temporary employment agencies, bottle depots, and other places. Your volunteer contributions are part of a much larger community effort during the Homeless Count. Many service providers, outreach teams, public agencies, and community partners are also supporting this valuable work

Only volunteers over the age of 18 will be accepted for enumerating positions. There may be limited positions available for assistance with the orientation training and at base sites for individuals age 16 or 17. To volunteer, visit http://www.homelesscount.ca