Archive for the ‘Housing’ Tag

Return to “Normal” (8)

The Pandemic Presents The Chance To End Homelessness In Canada For Good

It’s hard to social-distance at home if you don’t have a home.

 

There is a story about homelessness in HuffPost.ca that is part of After The Curve. This is an ongoing HuffPost Canada series that makes sense of how the COVID-19 crisis could change our country in the months and years ahead, and what opportunities exist to make Canada better. The story can be accessed at:

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ending-homelessness-canada-covid19_ca_5ef388a3c5b615e5cd380bac

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Doug Johnson Hatlem, a worker at The Sanctuary, a respite centre in Toronto, carries tents to be distributed to members of the homeless community on April 19 2020.

Housing is a human right! Now is the time to use our resources to make truly affordable housing available to everyone in our communities. Governments are demonstrating that there is no shortage of money, just a dearth of “political will”, or what used to be called “intestinal fortitude”.

Return to “Normal” (4)

Dr. Kwame McKenzie dreads returning to “normal”. In his view, the old “normal” wasn’t working for the majority of people.

In this blog posting on the Wellesley Institute website, Dr. McKenzie writes about what the old “normal” looked like; and proposes a vision of how a new “normal” could benefit the majority of people by taking care of the common good.

A new normal

Kwame McKenzie – May 13, 2020

I am told that we are preparing to slowly get back to normal. That fills me with dread.

I remember normal.

Normal was when Ontario had its highest ever GDP per capita, but at least 350,000 people used food banks and social assistance rates were so low that those considered too sick to work were living in poverty.

Normal meant a business model where many jobs were precarious, had no pension or benefits and the provincial government thought that $15 an hour and paid sick days were an unreasonable burden for employers. It was where young adults earned less than they did 40 years ago and GTA immigrants had not had a pay increase for 35 years.

Normal was a real estate market so out of control that the average family could not afford to buy a Toronto condo. It was when the majority of long-term care homes were private, for-profit and the provincial government had scaled back inspections.

It was when Ontario was the second lowest spender on health in Canada and our health services were cut back so far that people were dying in hallways. Health service workers could not have a cost of living increase and public health was to be cut by 10% provincially and 20% in Toronto.

Normal was when we spent 30% less on mental health than recommended leaving services for people with serious mental illness underfunded. It was when the target of ending homelessness by 2025 had been shelved.

Normal was the problem.

It allowed government to put industry’s interests ahead of the people. It made it acceptable to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It was bad for our health.

It increased the rates of chronic disease and slowed our gains in life expectancy. It led to 20 years difference in life span between rich and poor in some Cities. It led to indigenous and racial disparities in health, social care and policing. It left workers with fewer protections and produced epidemics of loneliness and mental health problems.

It left us more vulnerable to COVID-19.

It left families overcrowded and unable to physically distance. It left personal support workers underpaid, undervalued and resigning in droves and our long-term care homes understaffed and vulnerable. It allowed COVID-19 to prey on our elders.

It left us with so little hospital capacity that we had to develop new, poorer quality alternatives. It may decrease COVID-19 survival rates.

It left our public health system weaker, demoralized, and with the lowest rates of COVID-19 testing in Canada.

It led to people with serious mental illness swelling the numbers of homeless, or living in shared rooms separated only by a curtain, and it led to homeless shelters resembling refugee camps with just 2.5 feet between beds. It led to COVID-19 outbreaks.

I do not want to go back to that normal. It was wrong, and it will delay our recovery and have a huge economic impact. The truth is it was not normal at all and it reversed the gains we have made over the last 40 years.

We need a new normal.

A new normal where we put people first – not say we will and then do the opposite. A new normal which aims to increase affordability, equity and inclusion. A new normal where people thrive, rather than just survive.

This means we need: good jobs, employment rights and wages which ensure that people thrive; a revitalized benefits system based on a universal basic income which ensures that we never again allow people to live in government sponsored poverty; and, a housing strategy that makes homes affordable.

We need to: right-size our health and social services sector; look at how B.C. is improving standards for long-term care homes; and, reconsider the shelter system and find homes for the homeless.

We need to do this to honour the people who have died because of COVID-19, those who will die because they do not receive proper care, and the families who have not been able to properly grieve. We need to honour the essential workers who have put themselves and their families at risk, the employers who have lost their livelihood, the people who have lost their jobs and the students who have had their education disrupted.

If we just go back to normal we are disrespecting these sacrifices, we are ignoring what COVID-19 has taught us, and we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next pandemic.

Our Choices Will Determine if We are Toronto the Good

An op-ed in the Toronto Star, written by Devika Shah, Adina Lebo and Cameron Watts, published on January 23, 2019, spoke about the choices that Torontonians are making. It argues that if Toronto truly is a “world-class city” or “Toronto the Good,” we must choose to move beyond slogans to action. Too many Torontonians are hurting.

This raises the question about how we are taking care of our neighbours, as many of our faith communities call us to do.

The opinion piece can be accessed at: https://www.socialplanningtoronto.org/toronto_the_good

 

 

Okay, Toronto. It’s up to you

There are times in life when I need a bit of inspiration.

The recent provincial election in Ontario brought me to one such time. However, the antidote arrived unexpectedly in the form of a blog posting by Joy Connelly. Chicago in April 2011Joy Connelly began with the following words:

“As I watched last Thursday’s election results, I was reminded of the motto printed on housing hero Steve Pomeroy’s letterhead: focus on what you can do, not what you cannot.”

Joy then proceeds to illustrate the powers that are available to the City of Toronto to deal with our housing crisis. Yes, there are things that can be done! To read an inspirational posting about what we can focus on doing, read Joy Connelly’s blog at:

https://openingthewindow.com/2018/06/11/okay-toronto-its-up-to-you/?

 

Posted June 13, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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Canada does Trump’s bidding with massive new defence spending.

This material is copied from www.Ceasefire.ca and it relates to the announcement on June 7, 2017 that Canada will increase its spending on the military.

Sajjan

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan released Canada’s new defence policy today and here are the highlights:

–          A 70% increase in defence spending over the next 10 years

–          A staggering 62 billion dollar increase over the next 20 years

–          An increase in the number of fighter jets to be purchased from 65 (under Harper) to 88

–          An increase in personnel in both the regular and reserve forces

The Trudeau Liberals did not campaign on, and have no mandate for, significant increases in the defence budget. There has been no change in the international security environment since their election to justify such astronomical increases. The only change has been the election of Donald Trump.

While there are positive elements of the new policy – particularly Canada’s engagement in support of UN peace operations – the new funding envelope is nothing short of a total capitulation to the American bully, President Trump.

See tomorrow’s blog (at www.ceasefire.ca )for more detailed analysis of the policy and its implications for Canada.

 

Meanwhile, in Toronto, 1,000 families will have their homes taken away from them in 2017 and 2018 because of the lack of government assistance for repairs to affordable housing; an untold number of First Nations people all across Canada will not have potable drinking water; etc, etc.

Affordable housing in Toronto

A new house in Willowdale

The following letter was submitted to The editor of The Toronto Star:

January 27, 2012

Letters to the Editor

The Toronto Star

One Yonge Street

Toronto, ON

Dear Sir;

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012 the CEO of Toronto Community Housing, Len Koroneos, wrote a column in support of the TCHC proposal to finance repairs to TCHC housing by confiscating other TCHC housing. His proposal seems to be as sensible as cutting a hole in one sleeve of my shirt in order to patch a hole in the other sleeve.

Currently the appointed Board of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) is proposing to sell off at least 675 units of TCHC housing, and use the money gained to finance repairs that are necessary in other homes that TCHC manages. This would be taking affordable housing from those who need it to provide repairs to affordable housing to a fortunate few. Some might say that it is like robbing Peter in order to pay Paul.

The argument that Mr. Koroneos advocates boils down to a justification for repairing the homes of TCHC tenants by using money from the sale of other TCHC housing. If implemented, this means that the TCHC would have fewer homes available to rent at a time when the waiting list for affordable housing is getting longer and longer. It also means that Toronto will be moving away from a healthy community model of providing a variety of housing types in communities throughout the city.

Who is responsible for this state of affairs? It is obvious that neither the City of Toronto, nor the Province of Ontario, have adequately funded the TCHC. TCHC tenants have been robbed of the money fro repairs to their homes in order to prevent tax increases for homeowners and businesses. This has resulted in a situation whereby many homes of TCHC tenants have been permitted to fall into disrepair. Some homes have been neglected to the point where they cannot be occupied without a substantial investment in repairs.

As a citizen of Toronto who wants to have affordable housing for all who require it, I am asking this question about the accountability of the TCHC Board, and the political elite who appointed this Board. Who is responsible for the decisions to under-fund the TCHC? Do these Board members live in TCHC housing? Why did the political elite not provide adequate funding for necessary repairs to TCHC housing? Do they permit their homes to fall into disrepair?

Each week I meet people in my parish who are marginally housed, and some who live on the cold concrete of Toronto’s sidewalks. There are tens of thousands of families on the waiting list for affordable housing here in Toronto. These are people who deserve a place to call home. Providing affordable housing to those who need it is a sign of a just society. We can do it.

The proposal by Mr. Koroneos would reduce the number of TCHC housing units. It does not deal with the fundamental issue of under-funding the TCHC. It also has the possibility of leading us down the road to the ghettoization of social housing in our fair city. If accepted, this would make the present Board as culpable as former TCHC Boards for an injustice perpetrated on the poor of Toronto.

Repairing the funding model is a more appropriate way for the Board of the TCHC, and their political masters, to invest their time and energy. Their current proposal seems to be as sensible as removing one door from the house to replace a broken door in another part of the house.

Yours truly;

Rev. Allan Baker, Newtonbrook United Church

cc Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Housing

cc Margarett Best, M.P.P.

Cc Mayor Ford

Cc Councillor Ainslie

The spirituality of service

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,

as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 (TNIV)

On October 27th, 2011 I participated in a Habitat for Humanity “Faith Leaders Build” here in Scarborough. There are two comments that I wish to share about this event.

First of all, the participants were men and women; Christian, Jewish and Muslim; and a rainbow of the palate of human skin colours. This testifies to the goodness in humanity, rather than the divisiveness that the media seem to portray as the human condition.

My second reflection is that everyone was dedicated to serving someone else – not their own needs. Through this giving of ones-self, a family who we may never know will have opportunities for a better life, and we will all benefit from a more abundant society. This is because safe, affordable housing is key to transforming the lives of people who live on the margins of society. It provides a foundation for the building of a new life. That’s what the congregation of Newtonbrook United Church has seen happening at Lester B. Pearson Place in Willowdale.

Serving others is a spiritual practice.

Those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25

Posted November 2, 2011 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

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