CESCR submission on the Right to Adequate Housing

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We’re going international! The Right to Housing Coalition just sent in a submission on the Right to Adequate Housing to the United Nations’ Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) for Canada’s Sixth Periodic Review. We’re sending two people to  Geneva, Switzerland from February 24th-25th to make sure they hear us.

Download the full written submission here.


Excerpt from the submission:


Recommendations for Action

Canada

  • Canada must ensure access to justice for marginalized groups. We urge Canada to allow individuals and organizations to claim social and economic rights before courts and tribunals on full evidentiary records.
  • Canada must clarify its housing commitments. In particular we urge the federal government to adopt a rights-based definition of affordable housing that defines affordability as 30% of household income, as part of a commitment to the right to adequate, affordable, and accessible housing for all, and especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.
  • Canada must articulate its commitments to producing non-profit, social, co-operative, and supportive housing, and to build on commitments in the mandate letters provided to federal Ministers in 2015 to develop a comprehensive, funded, rights-based National Housing Strategy with targets and timelines for implementation.

Ontario

  • Ontario must ensure access to justice for marginalized groups. We urge Ontario to allow individuals and organizations to claim social and economic rights before courts and tribunals on full evidentiary records.
  • Ontario must address inadequate social assistance amounts, in particular, Ontario must ensure that shelter allowances reflect average market rents. Ontario should set targets and implementation dates to increase social assistance levels and shelter allowances to reflect market basket expenses and market rents.
  • Ontario must implement planning regulations that ensure all new developments include a percentage of affordable housing units.
  • Ontario must develop, implement and fund strategies to address eviction prevention and homelessness prevention.
  • Ontario must implement a rent control system to prevent economic evictions in private rental housing.
  • Ontario must ensure access to adequate affordable housing for all low income communities.

Municipalities

  • Municipalities must develop and implement a protocol for extreme cold weather alerts that is evidence-based and includes global best practices.
  • Municipalities must implement planning regulations that ensure all new developments include a percentage of affordable housing units.
  • Municipalities must develop strategies to address eviction prevention, homelessness prevention, and access to affordable housing.

After National Housing Day: TAKE ACTION!


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Thank you to everyone who took taking part in our National Housing Day event on November 20th in Toronto!

If you attended the march and/or the People’s Assembly, we would like to get your feedback – please take 5 minutes to fill out this online survey:
National Housing Day event survey

Next Steps… Let’s continue to build and TAKE ACTION!
On November 20th, about 300+ people took part in a powerful day, speaking up and marching for the right to housing, and being “spect-actors” in a forum theatre play based on people’s real lived experiences of homelessness and housing struggles. We then joined together in a legislative theatre process to brainstorm policy solutions that will help solve the affordable housing and homelessness crisis, and these are the three that we collectively voted to pass:

      1. The Government of Canada must implement a national housing strategy
      2.  

      3. People are forced to wait many years for social housing because the waiting list is too long. The provincial government must make private market rents more affordable and raise the shelter allowance for people on social assistance to an adequate amount that meets real need.

      4.  

      5. The provincial and municipal governments must pass and implement inclusionary housing laws that require affordable housing in all new developments.

We will be following up with policymakers and legislators (including but not limited to those in attendance: MP Adam Vaughan, MPP Cheri DiNovo, and Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy). We encourage you to also contact your local politicians at all levels of government  to push for these necessary policy solutions:

Federal:
Your local MP
Amarjeet Sohi (Minister of Infrastructure and Communities)
Jean-Yves Duclos (Minister of Families, Children and Social Development)
Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada)

Provincial:
Your local MPP
Ted McMeekin (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing)
Kathleen Wynne (Premier of Ontario)

Municipal:
Your local City Councillor
Ana Bailão (City Councillor & Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee)
John Tory (Mayor of Toronto)

shelter allowance chart 2014

Graph: Current shelter allowance rates in Ontario are inadequate

Media about our National Housing Day event:
Faces of Toronto’s housing and homelessness crisis (Now Magazine)
National Housing Day Rally 2015 (Urban SimpliCity)
Housing Advocates Continue to Push for a National Housing Strategy (JustWords)

View more photos of the march here, here and here.

National Housing Day in Toronto: The People’s Assembly on the Right to Housing

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Join the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and the Right to Housing Coalition in Toronto for a march and People’s Assembly on Friday November 20th to mark National Housing Day!‎

“We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.” – Augusto Boal

If you were in charge, what would you change?

On June 25th, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that a Charter challenge holding governments responsible for the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness will never be heard in Canadian courts. The courts refuse to hear the people, but the people will be heard! We will continue to take to the streets until we have a national housing strategy. The new Liberal government campaigned with a promise to fix our affordable housing crisis and we will hold them to this. We are calling for the government to ensure that everyone has the right to housing.  Join the People’s Assembly on the Right to Housing to help imagine what a national housing strategy will look like.

To register: https://nationalhousingday2015.eventbrite.ca
(If you need assistance with registration, call 416-597-5855 or toll free 1-866-245-4182)

11:00am – March!
Location: meet outside the Superior Court of Justice, 361 University Ave. (north of Queen St. W)

12:30pm–3:30pm – People’s Assembly!
Location: Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square (behind Eaton Centre)
Rise up, speak up! Be a “spect-actor” in our legislative theatre chambers and join our collective voices for an end to the affordable housing and homelessness crisis!
Watch a short play based on local community members’ lived experiences of homelessness and housing struggles. Act onstage to offer alternative solutions to this systemic problem – on the individual, institutional and government levels. Propose policy ideas which will be heard by housing advocates, policymakers, legislators and others witnessing the process. Vote on the laws you want to see passed.
An interactive performance/community dialogue performed and facilitated by Branch Out Theatre.

Free – all welcome! Wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation provided.
A light, hot lunch will be served at Church of the Holy Trinity at 12:00pm.
This event is part of a national day of action.

Help us share the event on Facebook!: https://www.facebook.com/events/420537858147673/

Right to Housing Forum: September 30th

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We have an affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada and the government is doing little to fix it. The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and the Right to Housing Coalition are joining groups and individuals across Canada in a national week of action. Make affordable housing an election issue and vote housing for all!

Join us for our Right to Housing Forum to talk about the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in the context of housing as a right.

SPEAKERS:
Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto

COMMENTATORS:
Mike Creek, Working for Change
Cheyanne Ratnam, What’s The Map: Mobilizing Newcomer Homeless Youth

MODERATOR:
Angela Robertson, Central Toronto Community Health Centres

THIS EVENT IS FREE! ALL WELCOME!

Date: Wednesday, September 30th from 6:30pm-8:30pm
Location: Ryerson University, Library Building, 350 Victoria St., Room 72
The forum will also be broadcast live online here.

Wheelchair accessible and ASL interpretation provided.
Invite your friends and share our Facebook event page here.
Downloads: poster (pdf) / flyer (pdf)

Co-sponsored by the Unifor-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University.

As the October 2015 federal election approaches, send a strong message to all political parties: we want a national housing strategy now! This event is part of a national week of action, Sep 23rd-30th. For more information: https://righttohousing.wordpress.com/take-action.
Use the hashtag #votehousing4all

Tools & Resources: Join our collective voices across Canada to call for the right to housing!

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We have an affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada and the government is doing little to fix it. As the October 2015 federal election approaches, use and share these tools & resources in your local campaigns and advocacy efforts to send a strong message to all political parties: we want a national housing strategy now!

More information on what we are calling for:
Right to Housing – take action!
Vote Housing For All Network

Campaign logo:
Download the Vote Housing For All logo (right click and choose “save image as”) in English or French/Français

Social media hashtags:
#votehousing4all (English)
#logementundroit (Français)
#housing4all
#right2housing

Resources for the elections:
Housing For All – news & resources
Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa – federal elections tips & resources
Canadian Association of Community Health Centres – report card & petition
Federation of Canadian Municipalities – petition & policy tracker & election toolkit
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario – one page info sheet & national poll press release & report card on party platforms
Call for Housing – campaign page & petition
Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada/Vote Co-op Housing – campaign tools
College of Family Physicians of Canada – report card on each party’s stance on homelessness
Homeless Hub – election guide & party platforms on housing
The Housing Fix (The Tyee) – investigative media project on housing + party platforms summary + election candidates look-up tool
FRAPRU – bulletin de fin de campagne

Visual tools on affordable housing and homelessness in Canada:
Infographic: Homelessness in Canada by the numbers (Homeless Hub)
Infographic: Affordable housing for Ontario (a series of infographics by ONPHA)
Infographic: Did you know: Canada is only G8 country without national housing strategy (CACHC)
Infographic: Affordable Housing in Canada (CPJ)
Infographic: Urban Aboriginal homelessness in Canada (Homeless Hub)
Infographic: The real cost of homelessness (Homeless Hub)
Infographic: Housing and mental health – .pdf version / .jpg version page 1 & page 2 (CAMH)
Infographic info sheet: Housing For All (CHRA)
Infographic/statistics: The state of housing in Canada (CHRA)
Infographic/statistics: Average cost of rental housing across Canada (RentSeeker)
Infographic/statistics: Why Canada Needs a National Housing Strategy (YWCA Toronto)
Infographic/statistics: Women and shelter use in Canada (YWCA Toronto)
Infographic/statistics: Canada Needs a National Housing Strategy (Campaign 2000)
Graphic: Over half of Canadians would support a political party that makes housing a priority (ONPHA)
Video: Housing For All (CHRA)
Videos: Why Housing Matters for Families / Seniors / Youth (ECOHH)
Videos: Le logement social, pour les femmes, c’est vital! (FRAPRU)

Policy briefs and reports:
Winnipeg Right to Housing Coalition – federal brief on housing
Dignity for All – national anti-poverty plan for Canada
Registered Nurses of Ontario – Why Health Matters guide to the elections
Canadian Rental Housing Index (detailed analysis of affordability and suitability of rental housing across Canada)
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness – State of Homelessness in Canada 2014 report
Vote Housing For All Network – poll on national attitudes towards affordable housing as election issue
Wellesley Institute – Health Equity Impact Assessment on housing + analysis of party platforms

Last updated: October 15, 2015.
More resources will be added as they become available – please visit again!
Contact us if you would like your federal election & housing related tool or resource to be shared on this page.

We are part of the Vote Housing For All network. Join the campaign!

Supreme Court Slams Door Shut on Canada’s Housing Crisis

TORONTO, June 25, 2015 – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that a Charter challenge holding governments responsible for the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness will never be heard in Canadian courts.

With no evidence before them, two out of three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a controversial lower court decision that issues of homelessness do not belong in the courtroom. The Supreme Court decision affirms this ruling and brings to a close the five year wait by homeless and precariously housed applicants to have 10,000 pages of evidence detailing the impact of homelessness on hundreds of thousands of people across the country presented to the court.

“The housing and homelessness crisis is directly related to policy decisions that governments make every day,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, one of sixteen organizations that intervened in the case. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the troubling ways that those decisions impact and even violate the rights of some of the most marginalized communities in Canada remain unexamined.”

There continues to be a worsening housing crisis in Canada. Over the past five years, Ontario’s affordable housing waiting list has ballooned to 168,711 households, the Federal government has announced the revocation of 365,000 housing subsidies for low income households across the country, and the cost of keeping people homeless has continued to skyrocket. It is currently estimated at $7 billion annually.

“Housing should be a fundamental human right,” asserts Janice Arsenault, an applicant in the case. “It is shameful that disadvantaged people like me have been refused access to court on issues basic to our health, life and well-being. But if the courts think this is a political issue, it’s time for the government to sit up and do something.”

For more information on the Right to Housing Charter Challenge:
http://www.acto.ca/en/cases/right-to-housing.html

Official press release on today’s ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada:
Supreme Court Slams Door Shut on Canada’s Housing Crisis

Media coverage:
Supreme Court tosses out affordable housing case (iPolitics – Thursday, June 25, 2015)
Homeless Denied Day in Court (Toronto Star – Thursday, June 25, 2015)

Contact your MP and candidates on June 17th: Vote Housing For All!

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Join our collective voices across Canada on June 17th to call for the right to housing!

We have an affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada and the government is doing little to fix it.

On Wednesday, June 17th, groups across Canada will be holding different events and actions in their communities to say that we will vote housing for all! Send a strong message to all political parties for the upcoming federal elections that we want to see a commitment to housing as a human right.

Will you stand up and join this national day of action?
Call, visit or email your MP and election candidates on June 17th and tell them you will vote housing for all, and share with them our collective message!
Find your local MP’s contact information by entering your postal code here.
Contact political party leaders here.
Use this hashtag on social media: #VoteHousing4All

We invite you to take part and share our collective message:

  1. We want a national housing strategy now:

A national housing strategy is required to reduce and eventually end homelessness in Canada.

In Canada, we have 150,000 to 300,000 people who are visibly homeless, plus 450,000 to 900,000 people who are among the “hidden homeless.”

In 2009, Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing, called the housing and homelessness crisis in Canada a “national emergency.” Yet, Canada remains the only G8 nation in the world without a national housing strategy, and the federal government continues to cut funding to housing and homelessness programs.

We are calling for the government to ensure that everyone has adequate housing by adopting a national housing strategy, and that this strategy must be developed in consultation with groups across Canada.

  1. We want to see a re-investment in affordable housing:

We already have a housing and homelessness crisis but it may soon get even worse.

Social housing is the safety net that houses those who might otherwise risk homelessness. In Canada, 365,000 low income households are at risk of losing their homes because the Federal government refuses to renew subsidies for social housing.

Meanwhile, the waiting list for social housing continues to grow: there are over 168,000 households on the waiting list in Ontario alone. Without federal government support, many providers of social housing will have to raise rents to market levels or sell their affordable units to make ends meet. Tenants who can’t pay the higher price will face economic eviction.

We are calling for the government to re-invest in social housing by renewing the federal subsidies, and to dedicate adequate funding to building new affordable housing.