Featuring Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing; Margaret Pfoh, CEO, Aboriginal Housing Management Association; Tim Richter, CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness; and John van Nostrand, CEO, Parcel Developments
Cities in the Time of COVID-19: How Does Our Approach to Housing and Homelessness Change?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. Housing is a human right
With stay at home orders being implemented in cities of all sizes, it has become apparent that housing is the front-line of defense against COVID-19. Over the last 30 years, we have lost sight of every person’s right to adequate and safe shelter, and have instead allowed housing to become a commodity that can be traded for profit. The resulting loss of the social value of housing has laid bare the dire public health consequences, with thousands of Canadians, unable to simply “shelter in place”
2. Housing advocacy is the next profession
A holistic, 360-degree view of Canada’s housing crises and the relatively recent “explosion” of “modern, mass homelessness” is required to fix this fundamental human right. We have to look at housing and homelessness in its entirety, and not fixate on the built form as the only solution. A multi-pronged approach that incorporates a variety of social, political and architectural actions is required to address the complexities inherent in finding a long-term solution. One panelist suggested we may need to create a new professional category: housing advocate.
3. What’s the difference between ventilators and housing? Nothing!
A collaborative response that transcends jurisdictions is required to take immediate action on homelessness and housing. The federal government stepped into the provincial domain of health when it was most needed, to source and distribute ventilators. And the same heroics are needed for solving the housing crises – which is currently in the provincial domain. All (jurisdictional) hands on deck!
4. No going back
COVID-19 exposed existing deficiencies and structural inequities in urban and social infrastructure. Yes, we need an effective emergency response to address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. But we cannot risk going back to the way things were – with too many people living homeless, underhoused, home-precarious or dispossessed. The housing crises is the result of systemic policy decisions and directives, from all levels of government. And it has shaken the underpinnings of the very foundation of otherwise, resilient communities. It’s time for all jurisdictions to work together, but this time with front line workers and those with lived experience to address this gaping vulnerability, once and for all.
5. Just do it
We all know that cities are dealing with layers upon layers of human tragedy: the opioid crises, homelessness and domestic violence. And the list goes on, and sadly, continues to build. And they all tie back to housing precarity. Enough is enough. The COVID-19 crises has shown us that we can overcome extraordinary obstacles quickly, and effectively. We must be “brave and fearless” in our collective commitment to solving the housing crises that affects every city in Canada. In a reference to Tracy Chapman, one panelist suggested that we might be “talkin’ bout a revolution” — where governments are pushed, and the people and the non-profits are empowered.
Push (documentary), Fredrik Gertten, WG Films
Fragile Freedoms, Thomas R. Berger, Clarke, Irwin
Sweat Equity, C.A. Sharpe and A.J. Shawyer, ISERBooks
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:38] Hi, everybody, welcome to City Talk. It’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. We’re very pleased to have you join us once again midday here in central Canada, a little earlier in the morning on the West Coast and mid-morning for those coming in from Alberta and from the east, you’ve got a jump on us. You’re already making your afternoon tea. We are very appreciative of the audiences that we’re getting for these. These are really important conversations for us to help make sense of what’s going on during COVID and how we’re imagining what the future will be like for us together collectively. The Canadian Urban Institute’s in the connective tissue business. We’re all about how do we actually build the capacity for us to learn from one another, from urban environment to urban environment, to community to community. And as you know, since COVID, we’ve put up a number of platforms One CityWatchCanada.ca, which is showing what municipal governments are doing. CityTalkCanada.ca, which is the one you’re on now, which is how we’re trying to actually make sense of what’s going on. And then CityShareCanada.ca, which is where communities and community organizations, institutions and individuals and all sorts of a groundswell of response that we’re continuing to see in communities as we try to improvise and DIY our way out of what the solutions need to be. This is being powered by volunteers and partners across the country. And so if you’ve got bandwidth, if you’ve got a bit of time to put it into helping us watch a city share what’s going on in your city or help us try to understand how we can interpret what our next set of steps should be, please email us at Covidresponse@CANURB.org. Have we got a task for you! And if you’ve got half an hour a day, an hour a day, we’ll take it! Very, very appreciative of all the volunteers that we already have working on this. And we need to put all hands on deck, mobilize everyone we can get. So if you’ve got bandwidth, please help us. This is the I think fourth week that we’ve been doing these city talks and they’ve been extraordinarily popular. Everything gets posted afterwards, we videotape these and we share them with people and we hope you’ll share them with people. And they have a long they have a long tail. I think that’s the current vernacular that we’re to say. So lots to learn here as we track this all together. These broadcasts originate in Toronto, but we have participants from across the country. Just to acknowledge that Toronto is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinabek, the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. It’s now home to diverse, many, many diverse first nations from Inuit to native peoples from across Turtle Island and Toronto was also covered by Treaty 13, which was signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Anishinabek nations. And we are cognizant of that and we are cognizant of the rich history that Canada has and the challenges that that poses us in terms of coming to terms with truth and reconciliation. And boy, oh boy, do we ever see how COVID exposes the unevenness of how people experience urban environments. And that’s why this session today is so important. Homelessness and housing and how we’re going to navigate it during this crisis and as we emerge into whatever the heck our new normal is. And will it be a better normal? We put these conversations up very cognizant that there are thousands and thousands of Canadians still engaged on the front lines doing emergency services. And these conversations are not a substitute for that. And we are not trying in any way to distract from the efforts to save lives and try to keep people safe. So they are going in parallel and we are wanting to acknowledge all the efforts that first line workers are continuing to be consumed by. The conversation also doesn’t end here. It is a live conversation and we encourage you that are using social media to use hashtag city talk on Twitter and keep this conversation going because these are Gordian knots, right? These are not simple issues, not simple problems, no simple solution. And we just want this to start off us off. And that’s why we’re so appreciative of this gang gathering with us today to try to help us navigate that conversation. There is a chat function here on the right hand side, at least on the right hand side of my screen, and we would encourage all of folks that are signed on this session to get into that chatbox and throw in some ideas and ask some questions. And when you do so, please direct them, you’ll see the little toggle switch at the bottom where you can direct it to all panelists and attendees. What we’re finding on these is that a whole rich life starts to live over there in that chatbox and you can often answer each other’s questions much more effectively than we can over here on the broadcast. So please direct all your comments to panelists and attendees. And just remember, it’s not Vegas folks. Those of you that have been on several these talks are going to get tired of my little preamble. Just remember what goes up on the chat, stays up on the chat. So keep that in mind when you post things because it will then go online and then everybody will see exactly what it was that you thought was a brilliant idea at the time. Not that that’s to caution you, but just be aware. We’re recording these sessions that you can see. And as I suggested, it’s just the beginning of what we hope is a really rich dialog because we’re not going to solve any of these topics in a one 1-hour session ever. Just the beginning. So joining us from coast to coast, we’ve got Margaret Pfoh from the Aboriginal Housing Management Association in Vancouver. John Van Nostrand, who wears a number of hats but is here in Parcel Developments from Ontario, Tim Richter in Calgary, who runs the Alliance to End Homelessness. And Leilani Farha who we’re repatriating from her extended gig with the U.N., where she took one for the team. And now she’s, I hope, I think, three days into being back into normal life in Ottawa. So we’re very happy to have you four and to help us navigate this, because I think it’s a profoundly challenging conversation, or topic. I had written a couple of weeks ago that COVID was like a particle accelerator, that everything that was dysfunctional in urban environments before COVID was just laid bare and now you really see it and it’s a lot worse than we thought. And I think that this topic and why it’s so popular and so many people have signed up for it is that it’s very, very clear that there’s a lot of trouble here in the housing sector and in the homelessness response discourse. And we appreciate that we’ve merged these topics into one session, but it’s a whole bunch of topics and we know that we don’t want to oversimplify it. And so I’m gonna leave it in your hands to figure out how we want to prioritize what we talk about. But let’s just start, if we could, with Margaret, who’s there with a bucolic image behind her of a lovely golf course. And perhaps perhaps the golf courses have opened in Vancouver. I don’t know. They they may be on the verge of it, I know they’re talking about in other parts of the country, but I don’t think you’re on a golf course. I think that’s a Zoom background. But, Margaret, we’re very happy to have you join us. And I’m going to ask each each of you to just give me 90 seconds on. What are you seeing? What do you what what have you been observing over the last seven weeks. Over to you, Margaret. Thanks for joining us.
Margaret Pfoh [00:07:35] Thank you, Mary, for that [00:07:37]introduction. Thank you, everyone, [1.9s] for being here today. I am Margaret Pfoh. I’m Tsimshian. I am a member of the Lax Kw’alaams Band in Prince Rupert, but I am a descendant of the Eagle Clan of the Gitgaat First Nation in Hartley Bay. And I’m a Sixties Scoop child. So my perspective on a lot of these issues comes from that background. What we’re seeing over here in British Columbia is amazing resilience, amazing cooperation. We’re seeing a lot of rapid response both from our organization and from the province of B.C. But what we are seeing is exactly what you had highlighted in your preamble, and that is the disparities that existed prior to COVID-19 have only been exacerbated because of COVID-19, especially from an urban Indigenous perspective. What we’re seeing is all of those things that urban and Indigenous peoples, First Nations, Inuit, Métis and the dispossessed Indigenous people are actually exacerbated. So we tend to often rank the highest on the worst scales, highest in incarceration, highest in homelessness, highest in addiction, highest in children, in care, highest in domestic violence, highest likelihood that we as Indigenous women are likely to die from a violent death. And so what we’re seeing here in British Columbia, despite all of the amazing and wonderful efforts of our government and the partnerships across our housing sector to be as responsive as we possibly can be, we are seeing that our most vulnerable populations are at even greater risk right now, especially with the increase in domestic violence. The order to stay home has had long lasting impacts to our housing sector with regards to domestic violence, both for our women and for our children, but also for our elders and our seniors as well. And so taking a look at at what that has highlighted for us means that we have to start thinking about what are our solutions after COVID-19, has started to to decline and after we’re able to open everything up. And I’m sure we’re gonna get to that. So I don’t want to go into all of that conversation at this particular moment. But most certainly we’re looking at needing to have a more overt decision-making processes that will actually try to close the gap between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples.
Mary Rowe [00:10:15] Before I leave you. Can you just tell people a little bit about the organization you run?
Margaret Pfoh [00:10:19] Yeah. So our organization is the first in Canada, second in the world to be a for Indigenous by Indigenous housing entity. We run the Aboriginal Housing Management Association here in British Columbia. We have a arm’s-length oard of directors. Arm’s-length, meaning our entire board of directors are not receiving any of the public funds that we flow through in terms of subsidy to our housing providers. And we have forty one housing providers under our umbrella right now. We have more coming under the last provincial call for housing. They put out 1,700 units for Indigenous people and in year one, they had 1,100 already allocated. So I think we were a little underestimating the needs because that was a 10 year strategy for 1,700.
Mary Rowe [00:11:11] Wow. And it was taken up in one year.
Margaret Pfoh [00:11:12] In one year.
Mary Rowe [00:11:13] Yeah, well, that in a nutshell talks about the scale of the dilemma, eh?
Margaret Pfoh [00:11:17] Absolutely.
Mary Rowe [00:11:18] OK. Let’s go a little further east to the sunny province, although I hear you’re getting snow. So are we in Ontario, just so you know, in Alberta. Tim, are you in Calgary? Is that where you are today?
Tim Richter [00:11:28] I am in Calgary, yes.
Mary Rowe [00:11:30] Tell us about what you’ve been seeing in your purview for the last seven weeks. What are you seeing?
Tim Richter [00:11:36] For sure. Well, first of all, I just want to acknowledge that here in Calgary, we’re on the on the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Nation, which includes Siksika, Piikani and Kainai. I also want to acknowledge that the Tsuu T’ina the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, the Métis Nation, Region 3 and everybody that makes up Treaty 7 here in southern Alberta. So I lead the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. And you know, we’ve been working with cities and towns across the country. And, you know, you referred to COVID-19 as a particle accelerator. I referred to it as a guided missile and I’ve heard this from a couple of my medical colleagues who refer to it as a guided missile that’s aimed at vulnerable people. And you see that play out across the country. If you look at who if you look at the profile of those at greatest risk people that are older people at pre-existing medical conditions, people that aren’t able to self-isolate or access health care, that describes the homeless population in our country in large measure. And what I’ve observed is a homeless system becoming a public health system with little or no support from public health systems to respond quickly to an emergency that is already making the life expectancy of their clients twenty five years less right now. And so that if there hasn’t been a catastrophic loss of life among people experiencing homelessness, that is only because of a) the existing public health measures keeping people at home, but b) the heroic effort of people that are on, in working in frontline agencies that have been scrambling for the last month or so in the absence of public health support, in the absence of meaningful support from many municipal emergency management agencies that have been dealing with a lack of PPE and really struggling on staffing and a lack of donations. So it is it’s almost like crises layered upon crises for frontline organizations. You have the homeless crisis, you have the opioid crisis, and now you have a pandemic. And yet we are not yet seeing that kind of huge outbreaks that we see outbreaks in places certainly important and certainly dangerous and very worrying, but not to the scale that you might have expected. I had often likened it to what could have happened, what could have could happen. It’s a lot like what has happened in long term care. But the fact that it hasn’t, I think is a testament to frontline agencies and cities.
Mary Rowe [00:14:22] And some nimble responses. We had the mayor of Victoria at Lisa Helps on last week for a City Talk and she was describing how they had to really quickly deploy, really quickly move their safe consumption sites and their homelessness outreach services into parks. And of course, they were benefited that it was whether it was OK, they could do that. You know, it’s kind of hard to do that where there’s two, still three inches of snow on the ground. But it’s interesting, Tim. And also may be early days yet, right? We may not really know yet. OK. Thanks. Let’s keep going east. John, we’ll go to you now. John Van Nostrand and the cow. I know there’s a story about why you’re in front of a cow, but cows in the city maybe. I don’t know. Anyway, over to you, John. Tell us about, you’re a practitioner. You’ve been in this field for a long time and you’ve worked overseas, I know on this. And in fact, you came to see me in New Orleans when I was in New Orleans after Katrina. So you are very familiar with these kinds of all encompassing disaster zones. So talk to us about what you’ve been seeing. You’re muted, John, you’re muted. We’re gonna stop you again because your mic is breaking up. So let’s do this. If you could uh, we had a little problem doing the check. So we know there’s a little glitch dial out. Come on back on. And when you come on back on, I’ll pick you up. OK. So we hopefully fixed the sound. So don’t panic, everybody. John’s gonna leave temporarily and then he’ll come back. Leilani, let’s go to you. You’re in Ottawa now, but you’ve just had this extraordinary five year run. Five years, I think, right?
Leilani Farha [00:15:59] Six, six years. Six. .
Mary Rowe [00:16:01] Six years?
Leilani Farha [00:16:02] Yeah.
Mary Rowe [00:16:02] So obviously your purview is gonna be quite broad. So talk to us about what you’ve been seeing in the last seven weeks what have you been seeing?
Leilani Farha [00:16:11] Yeah. So, I mean, first and foremost, I think it’s super important to recognize that housing is actually the front line defense against COVID-19. And that’s not just in Canada. That’s global. And it comes out of the World Health Organization. And that’s because governments around the world and the World Health Organization know that you have to stay home and wash your hands and physical distance to flatten the curve and resist this virus. But that puts housing front and center. What’s been so surprising to me is that’s caught governments by surprise. So all governments everywhere are like, yeah, stay home, wash your hands. Physical distance. And then they’re like, oh, shoot, we have a homeless population for whom staying home isn’t possible.
Mary Rowe [00:16:57] Right, no home to go home to.
Leilani Farha [00:16:57] That’s right. And oh, dear, we have people living in housing precarity who can’t pay their rent and could be homeless. And then suddenly this scurrying around of activity to try to protect those populations. And all of this, to me, is suggestive of the fact that governments have have been very poor in terms of effectively implementing their human rights obligations with respect to housing. Pre-pandemic. So this is laid bare, as others have said, this has laid bare the homelessness crisis. It has laid bare discrimination against people living in homelessness, and it has laid bare the housing crisis that that so many people are experiencing in terms of unaffordability. Think about the fact that after one month of unemployment or underemployment, thousands and thousands of people in this country couldn’t pay their rent after one month. What does that suggest? It suggests that people’s incomes are not commensurate with the cost of rent. One of the things that has also sort of surprised me is, well, I think there are some good examples appearing in Canada. I actually don’t find some of the most innovative and creative stuff happening here to address the populations that we’re talking about who are really suffering people living in homelessness and housing precarity. I really like looking at the countries who have experienced real rock bottoming out during the global financial crisis in ’08. If you look at what Italy, Spain and Greece are doing, they have come up with some interesting things to really protect tenants and people living in homelessness because they know what happens if you don’t do that. They know about suicide rates. They know about the depth of poverty that is going to result from this pandemic. And so, you know, things like ensuring protection of note, like genuine no eviction across the country. Protection, no eviction, including for six months after the emergency ends. That’s, for example, Spain. I can give lots more examples, but I think my 90 seconds are up.
Mary Rowe [00:19:02] Yeah, hang on. And we’ll come back to that and start talking about solutions. John, let’s hear from you. And I have I have a gut instinct here that the best thing for you is to speak and then don’t meet your mic, because I think what happens is your system doesn’t like it when you come off of mute. But let’s hear from you now. Fingers crossed that you sound good.
John van Nostrand [00:19:17] Right so I’m just going to talk a bit about the practical side. I am an architect and planner. I’ve been very involved in this field for 35, 40 years. Three years ago, I became a developer because I could see that governments can’t possibly solve this. And it needs other kinds of interventions and particularly from developers. Developers to me are people own property. Everybody who’s a developer owns a piece of property potentially. And that’s the way we look at it. So right now, what we’re involved in is developing two condominiums in Hamilton, which are geared to incomes between $30,000 and $120,000 a year, you need $120,000 to buy a condominium right now. So that gets people on a basic wage or a living wage. And on the below that level, we tied into the re-interest here and now it’s actually peaking here in the whole idea of transitional housing. So we first encountered that in Europe when we visited there, post the high levels of migration there. I think Margaret would know that in Vancouver they began to embrace the transitional housing, the B.C. government. So this is housing that’s built quickly and rapidly, can be put up within six to eight weeks and becomes, can become permanent over time. It can start off by housing, shelter, people in shelter and converting that to transitional and then on to permanent. And that’s, we’re very much involved in that right now. There’s been our first project announced in Toronto, which is significant. It’s in The Star today, reported. And we’re working on building a prototype in Hamilton right now. And we’ll be bidding on that kind of housing. And in that and working with, I think, the social providers who’ve been our former clients of the YWCA, Evangel Hall, Houselink Community Homes, a whole variety of of of so-called social providers. But we’ve always been dealing with homelessness from the beginning. But then now into the I would call it continuum of care. So we have a continuum of dying. We’ve worked that out. We haven’t figured out how to establish a continuum for housing for people to enter into housing. We’re really good at the last side where we do nothing at the beginning. We’re really poor at it. And I agree with the Leilani that Canada’s way behind in this in this area. And we’re missing on top of that, a huge economy. Housing’s the biggest economy we have. And it’s now wrapped up in twenty five developers in our region. Ridiculous. 40 percent of all new renovations and additions are done without a building permit and nobody will acknowledge that. So we have informal housing. We have the equivalent of what we’ve seen in large cities in Africa and Asia, where you’ve got people just get on with it and squat and buy some property, whether legally or not, and start building. And we need to we need to engage in that. And we actually supported that up until 1950. You know, a lot of people don’t realize that in all the Canadian major Canadian cities across in 1950, somewhere between thirty five and forty three percent of households were involved in creating their own housing. And they did that. I’m not talking about DIY necessarily I’m talking about managing that process. And I think we’ve lost that altogether, which is why we’re in a jam, because planning and I’m speaking as a planner, eliminated, they wanted everything to be fixed and finished. And what do you do? It costs a lot of money. So it looks good. It only accommodates 35 percent of the population.
Mary Rowe [00:23:12] Yeah, we got preoccupied with tidy, didn’t we? Well, it wouldn’t be a City Talk without somebody calling out planners for something not having done right. We’ve got lots of planners on this call and I hope they’ll start chatting up. And also, anyone that has lived experience with homelessness or housing precarity, we encourage you to express yourself on the chat function here, because we’re aware that this is a challenge that many, many, many, many Canadians experience. And many of us don’t even realize that people have experience in our own in our own circles. And so, folks, here’s the dilemma we’ve got. You know, there are policy questions. There are financing and money questions, and then there are sort of practical supply questions. So where do you want to start? Do you want to start at the thirty thousand flip level where Leilani was pressing to suggest that we need some kind of overarching public policy that reinforces people’s entitlement to a home? Is that the intervention point that we should be aiming at? Leilani, I think you would say so. Tim, what do you think?
Tim Richter [00:24:16] Well, yeah, I mean, I’ll jump in and Leilani can correct me, but I think so. A couple of things we got to think about why do we have homelessness in Canada? Modern mass homelessness like we see it today has not always existed. Right. It began in the late, in the mid-eighties, exploded in the 90s and you know, people say homelessness is a choice. They’re usually individualizing homelessness. Homelessness was a policy choice or a couple of policy choices that are compounded by broken systems. So in the 90s, the Federal government decided to stop investing in housing altogether. They also cut transfers to provinces. So we talked often about the housing side of the equation. We’ve got to remember the income side of this equation that created modern mass homelessness. If you look in Calgary, Calgary’s got one of the longest running point in time counts. In 1992, they counted around 400 people. By 2008, that number was four thousand. Right. Modern mass homelessness in Canada is a direct result of Federal policy decisions. Now they live in the cities. Right. This problem lands in the lap of the cities. Right. And it was created by senior jurisdictions. But cities have to respond. One of the things that I’ve observed, if you look, anywhere you look in a country, anywhere you look in the world where there has been success in reducing homelessness, you see strong local leadership, because more often than not, you know, this city, homeless homelessness becomes a product of these policy decisions and broken systems and lands in the lap of the cities. But then it turns into the political equivalent of a high school dance where you’ve got the different layers and levels of government all looking at one another, pointing the finger at each other, saying you go first. And in Canada and in the United States in particular, where I’ve seen the greatest progress is where city leadership takes the bull by the horns and brings those levels of government together. And at a local level, there is, you have to build these data-driven, coordinated local systems to help undo the problem in the data-driven piece is important because it’s we have to have that person specific data. And that to me is the key to accessing the right to housing. Because if you are invisible to the system, you can’t access your rights. But that data-driven system is key.
Mary Rowe [00:26:44] And I guess proceed when one of these things I mean, what do you you’re suggesting that do we lay out all of the Federal government’s feet that that they somehow withdrew their funding in their incentive programs to continue to build housing? What about John’s piece that basically there obviously were other kinds of forces at work here that people themselves were disempowered? What do you think about that piece of it?
Tim Richter [00:27:03] I think I think it’s it’s both and. Right. So I think you’ve got the Federal government backed out downloaded the problem on the provinces. The provinces had no financial capacity to deal with it. Downloaded that further. Right. Compounding that, you have provincial systems, child intervention, other systems that are dumping people into homelessness. Right. That the Federal government has an accountability and a leadership role in housing. And I think, you know, Leilani and and our and our partners have been been fairly successful in getting them back on that hook. But, you know, this is a this is as you say, it’s a Gordian knot. And I think there’s a little bit of everything involved. But one of the things we tend to do in planning and in responding to homelessness, we fixate on the housing form. Right. Ignoring those systems that contribute to it and the people that are in it. And I think the first step in ending homelessness is acknowledging that people who are homeless are rights holders, as Leilani would say, but are also people of capacity, ability, potential and value, and that they should be in charge of their own lives. And if you start there, you build much better policy.
Mary Rowe [00:28:22] Margaret, do you want to weigh in on this?
Margaret Pfoh [00:28:25] Yeah. You know, I think, you know, it’s interesting, when John started talking from a planning perspective, my hackles started to rise a little bit, thinking about the viewpoint of privilege, the reality that there are huge inequities in our entire world and more so in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous spectrum. But what I think in a short nutshell to your question, do we start from a policy perspective? Do we start from a supply perspective? The reality around housing is that we have to look at it in its entirety. I always like to call it 360 degree view point of housing. And I think that the housing sector in and of itself has never really been viewed at as a profession, as a as an industry, as the actual front line for all solutions. And so I think it has to be in its entirety. It has to be the Federal governments of provincial governments and municipal governments. And it has to be from a policy perspective as well. We have to take a look at what brought us to the conditions that we’re in. Recognize the disparities that have only been enhanced because of this COVID-19 structure and take a multi-pronged approach. So I saw one of our viewers put on the chat a question about the modular units. And Tim kind of spoke to those about the rapid response. Here in British Columbia we’ve released and I don’t know the numbers. I’m not the detail person that keeps those kinds of statistics in my mind. But we’ve released thousands of rapid response units that have alleviated the crisis and then COVID-19 hits. And we see we’ve only touched a minuscule of the actual homelessness challenges here in B.C. So we need more and we multi-pronged.
Mary Rowe [00:30:07] You know, here’s a question about about whether we have this perverse opportunity during COVID. You know, lots of things that people said would never happen. Oh, no, no, you’ll never have the political will to do that, to get a basic annual and universal income. Well, now we sort of have one, you know, do we have a window here where the Federal government is actually far more involved in every aspect of life at the moment with Canadians than they have been for decades? Right. So is there a moment here, Leilani, what do you think? Do we have a window where they will, I I’ve heard from both Tim and others and you, time for the Federal government to take some leadership here. Do you think this is our moment? Will you get them to?
Leilani Farha [00:30:44] Yeah, I mean, a couple of things. First of all, I don’t think my approach is a 30,000 feet approach. I actually think it’s sort of more what Margaret was saying. What we say about up here has a direct and real impact at the most local level. What resonates for me the most is when I’m hearing community workers who are talking about tent encampments being dismantled in the midst of COVID and their struggle around that and them knowing they are, homeless, people are safer in some of those encampments than they are in some of the shelters. And that’s related to the right to housing. So that zoomed out thing we’re talking about. I think the jurisdictional issue is a complete red herring. I am actually so very, very tired of the jurisdictional debates and things that are being thrown back at me when I’m saying I want to see Federal government leadership here. Look, the Federal government has been very clear that we need ventilators and everyone needs ventilators across the country. Ventilators are a form of health administration, it’s part of administering health care. That’s a provincial jurisdiction. The Federal government is running around trying to find ventilators. Housing is no different than a ventilator in this in this pandemic. And it to me, we have and Margaret knows probably much more about this than me. But in Canada, we have this thing called Jordan’s principle and it relates to an Indigenous youth who fell through the cracks because all these jurisdictions were pointing fingers and the youth ended up dying. Jordan ended up dying as a result of all of this inaction and finger pointing. That’s a that’s a principle that we can zoom out and say that is a principle that should be applying here in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Who who gives a flying about jurisdiction right now? Homeless people are being not protected in an equal way that other populations in this country, because of their status as homeless people and and the Federal government should be right there. And same with renters. I mean, I can’t believe the Federal government can step up and say, businesses, we’re going to support you and make sure you can pay your rent. Renters. Oh, that’s for the provinces and territories to deal with. I’m sorry. That’s unacceptable. This is a deadly pandemic. We’re not talking about jurisdictional issues. It’s a red herring to me.
Mary Rowe [00:33:15] So. So can we. You’re getting lots of support on the on the chatbox here. A lot of people saying, yeah, that’s right. And I saw you be very prudent and not want to say it. But I think what you’re saying is fuck jurisdiction. We need to think about how you get the job done. Right. And do we sit around and wait?
Leilani Farha [00:33:31] Yeah, and the Federal government should use it. I’m not saying the feds should be meddling. Cities are good at doing certain things. I mean, people on this call know that much better than I do. Cities are good at doing certain things. Social workers are good at doing certain things. You know, provinces are going to doing certain things. But Federal government is good at leadership. And we have in place a Prime Minister who’s actually a good leader and has from the get go with this pandemic, been a leader. But but he’s selling out people living in homelessness and renters in precarity. For what? I don’t know. And CMHC is an amazing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp, for those who don’t know, they have amazing leverage. Cities, I’ve talked to a few mayors and city officials who say you want me to buy a hotel and then eventually convert that hotel into long term deeply affordable housing. Maybe. But wow, that’s outside my bailiwick. That is not outside the bailiwick of CMHC. They could be helping cities by and then cities could use their expertise.
Mary Rowe [00:34:40] And I think there are some mayors and some councils that are actually looking at this. And the question is, can you do, can you as you as I suggested, are certain things possible now, that wouldn’t be easy. But now, in a time of crisis, they become possible. So acquiring more facilities that have the capacity to be adapted for this use, could they be transitional housing, John, as you’re suggesting? Lots of questions here about modular and whether or not there was already pre-COVID an awareness that Vancouver was much further ahead in terms of getting modular housing up. And this this kind of lament we always get that it would take too long. John, do you have thoughts on other kinds of things that should, that we should stick with? Not just through this pandemic but after?
John van Nostrand [00:35:24] Well, yeah. First of all I do agree with the three tier thing being looked at simultaneously. There’s no way that you can do one without the other. But I will point out…
Mary Rowe [00:35:34] John I’m going to have to stop you again because we’re getting that feedback again. Darn. I think there’s maybe this suggestion maybe that you unhook and hook back up. And as soon as you do, I’ll come right back to you. OK. It’s frustrating. OK. Tim, you’re nodding. Can you pick up while we wait for John to come back?
Tim Richter [00:35:51] Well, you know, I love going on webinars with Leilani because I can just say “ya, what she said” it makes it a lot quicker. She’s way more eloquent. But you know what? I think the most important the most important decision in ending homelessness is deciding you’re going to do it. Right. And it’s not like we can’t. Don’t tell me we can’t. I live I live in Calgary. 2013, we had a flood. Seventy five thousand households were displaced. Seventy five thousand households. None of them are still homeless. Only except those that were homeless before.
Mary Rowe [00:36:28] That’s interesting.
Tim Richter [00:36:29] Right. Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie had a fire. Yeah.
Mary Rowe [00:36:32] Tim, I want you to continue on that point. And I just want to ask our techs whether it’s smarter to have John phone-in, Abby Slater suggesting that in the chat. And I’m sure the tech folks are thinking about it. John, let’s try it one more time. John, can we hear, you now?
John van Nostrand [00:36:43] Yeah, I hope so. I’m just being so I’m saying that if you go back into history, actually, one of the basic forms of providing access to housing was just to survey land up into plots. I think we could be taking lands like the Port Lands, other lands around the edge of the city, serving them into lots, allowing people to begin to inhabit them. But in a way that there’s a future they could. There’s, servicing is needed. The architecture, the housing form is irrelevant. I don’t want to say there’s any magic answer that the forms of housing that existed before 1950 were as diverse as hell. And by the way, they all combine renting and owning. You didn’t do one or the other. You did both because you own without renting. So I think there are there are ways of dealing with rapid numbers of people in the same in ways that are much more, much less expensive. Remember, I mean, the province that the Federal government settled the prairies in 20 years with a railway and subdividing land up, essentially that was what they did. And we could be doing that at the scale we need to in and around cities. But of course, we are part of we’re a victim of colonization, too. So the British never wanted cities to have power and they really don’t have any power. We rely on the provincial governments to sort of empower the city to do largely this. And it’s it’s they can’t.
Mary Rowe [00:38:15] Well, there’s presumably there’s a market in there too, the developers that you are, your brethren are also calling all the shots because the land is so expensive. I want to just pick back up where Tim was and see if we can combine Tim and John and we’re gonna keep our fingers crossed that John’s audio works. Tim, you were just suggesting that after the flood you were able to rehouse people quite quickly. Right.
Tim Richter [00:38:37] Yeah. Well, it was making a decision, right? It’s deciding to do that. If, you know, if you think what is the if you think about the city organization to end homelessness. It’s actually really analogous to what emergency management bodies do during a disaster. Right. You know, you have a command center. You have data driven decision making. You bring all the right people around the table. You you deal with the immediate crisis and you keep people safe. But you have an immediate focus on rehousing. The floodwaters hadn’t even receded in Calgary, we’re clearing out people’s basements. We’re trying to get them back into their homes as rapidly as possible. We don’t do that with homelessness. It is a natural disaster on the same scale as every other disaster. The same impact on health, the same impact on life, the same financial impact.
Mary Rowe [00:39:25] Let’s talk about why, Margaret, why why can’t we, could we come out of this with a total doubling down on sustainable housing, supportive housing, transitional housing, modular housing, all the very, creating little lots as John’s suggesting. How do we open this up and say, OK, enough, we’re going to solve it now?
Margaret Pfoh [00:39:46] You know what I think about your question you asked Leilani, and I want to go back a little bit to the Jordan’s principal concept that she talked about. It’s certainly something that I’ve been arguing for many, many years now, that we as as governing bodies need to get over our desire for authority and jurisdictional control. But the reality is we’re fighting an ancient colonial systemic structure that unless there’s a major shift on all levels, I think we’re going to end up cycling back. And I see one of our chat viewers talked about their fear around the marshaling of all these supplies, you know, the empty hotels, the modular response units, the empty spaces that have been converted to short temporary shelters for people because of the COVID-19. Tim, hit it right on the head there. I mean, we’re already seeing the capacity for our communities to house people in in in a moment of crisis. And now all of a sudden, COVID-19 hits, the inequities are highlighted. Government suddenly has this capacity on all levels, municipal, provincial, Federal to be able to marshal these units. The fear is when this is over. Are we going to fall back into that system that really is about capitalism at its worst? It’s about financializing. What we all need as a basic Maslow’s first step, we need shelter. And when we start to look at making the almighty buck for the privileged vs. the equity that we need. And I talk about equity. If we fall back to that system, we’re going to just say goodbye to all those shelters and all those solutions.
Mary Rowe [00:41:31] So, folks, you’ve been in this field for 20 years. I’m just looking trying to guess your ages. But some a little bit longer, but more or less 20 years plus. And you’ve been advocating for this for a long time. And it’s not, in my sense, is that we kind of know you experts in this field kind of know what needs to happen. So what do you think needs to happen now to get the tipping point so that we will see that as we emerge? Leilani, thoughts?
Leilani Farha [00:41:56] Well, I actually wanted to dovetail with what Margaret was just saying. I mean, I do think you asked Mary why, like why is the why are things not happening? What you know, what’s the stumbling block here? And one of them is that unlike so many other social and economic areas, housing hasn’t really been viewed in the last 30 years for its social value. So unlike health and education, which remain somewhat intact in this country as social goods, housing has become a commercial good, basically a way to make money, as Margaret just said. And it’s been financialized. And so that’s part of the problem. There’s still this like need to readjust. Oh, and in the in the case of a pandemic like this one is the perfect time to make that readjustment.
Mary Rowe [00:42:39] How do we do it? How do we break it?
Leilani Farha [00:42:42] I think we have to keep wearing down government and put back on them the policy that they put to us. Stay home. Wash your hands. Physical distance. And how do you do that without housing? And when people don’t have it, it has to be understood as a social good and a health good right now. The other thing I’ll just want to say quickly is we have in place no accountability mechanisms. And this goes to Margaret’s point about as we move forward. So let’s say we do a few good things in this city, in that city. And this you know, these people are housed when they weren’t before. And these people were protected against eviction when they weren’t before. And then, bam, the pandemic ends. Are we going to let homeless people just be returned to the street? First of all, under international human rights law, that’s retrogressive and a violation. So but but it’s like, OK, we have to hold the government accountable. How do we do that? Where are the accountability mechanisms? And the government has stalled because they were supposed to appoint a Federal housing advocate and they were supposed to appoint Housing Council and they haven’t done it. And they’re saying, well, we’re gonna do that later. Everything’s stalled. All appointments are stalled. When this is exactly now is when we need the accountability mechanism. So I’m going to be pushing on that front. And I bet Tim is, too.
Mary Rowe [00:44:01] I think the important point here again, can I just encourage people in the chat, including my colleague Andrew Bond, who is going on only to the panelists. Andrew, move your comments to the full group, all panelists and attendees, because you’re going to get answers from your fellow chatters as well, not just from the panelists. I think the dilemma then is, as you suggest and I hear from van Nostrand, John. You know, I’m an urban autonomy advocate. I want to see if we push more and more responsibility down to cities and then I want to hold them accountable as a taxpayer, because as you’re quite rightly Leilani, it’s very hard now to who do you hold accountable? And I find us in an awkward place here where we have a big expectation of the Federal government that’s got the checkbook. They can for this window anyway, have a lot of influence over what the priorities are that are chosen. And and where does that live. I hear I know Margaret says I don’t, you know, you don’t want us to just be used the jurisdiction thing as an excuse anymore. But the dilemma is how do we actually, well, create the solution?
Leilani Farha [00:45:00] And Mary, you know, who is consulting with the government in terms of its economic stimulus package here in Canada? BlackRock, BlackRock, the largest, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. So where is the oversight for all of this, at least from homelessness and right to housing point of view?
John van Nostrand [00:45:18] Mary, I just think again to say that Canada has always been a receiver dealing with homelessness from the very beginning. I mean, 1950 if we had a huge immigration flow in here in 1900, 1920, all from the U.K. but all actually people who were homeless in the U.K. who came here, we we attacked, they they took on themselves that responsibility of dividing up land, getting some services, building housing that at least could be improved over time. Still many of it’s still there. CMHC had one really interesting idea after the Second World War where they rehouse 80,000 veterans by putting 10 of them in a shed, training them how to build a wartime house. They all built the ten and they drew straws. I mean, what what could be better? And there was something called a mortgage introduced. It hadn’t existed before. We’ve done it. So we should go and do it. You know?
Mary Rowe [00:46:16] In the spirit of getting out and doing it, I mean, we have a session on Thursday, our City Talk, which is about immigration. And you know, as you were all recognizing, immigration has built Canada and what’s going to happen to immigration in this new global pandemic, anxiety-ridden place. So we’ll talk with with those folks about what did they see as the need for this. But what about the idea of just going out and doing it? Margaret? That’s what you’ve been doing. You went out and did it. Can we, and Leilani, I’m interested, and Tim, can we can we use COVID as a chance to empower people to go out and start doing some stuff? Yes?
John van Nostrand [00:46:49] Yes.
Tim Richter [00:46:52] Yep. Well, and I think, you know, I think there’s three things here. Right. Well, first is I think, you know, a part of the right to housing is making sure that right holders have power. Right. So we need to find a way to ensure that homeless people, marginalized people, people living in core housing need have power, have political power. And that comes up to all of us. There are a million Canadians who have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. And there’s all the people working the system, and that is all the people on this webinar. Together, we we can create a political movement that forces that change. I mean, the second thing is, you know, thinking about Jordan’s principle, one of my heroes, heroines, I guess, heroes is Cindy Blackstock. Right. And she is brave and she’s fearless. And she takes on these challenges. And I think we have to do some of the same thing and be assertive with civil society and other leaders in this. The third thing it really comes down to, you know, the folks on this call, the municipal leadership, whether you’re in a formal leadership position or not. I mean, the big thing is deciding to end homelessness even without the Federal government support. You can you can bring you can bring political leaders to support you in Alberta, I’ll close with this, in Alberta and 2009, the cities got together and convinced the province to end homelessness. And you may not know this, but Alberta is the only province in Canada with province-wide reductions in homelessness. That’s because the cities got together and got the resources of the province delivered to the cities, an $800 million investment. By the Ed Stelmach government in 2009. Right. In housing.
Mary Rowe [00:48:39] And they didn’t wait for anybody’s permission, I guess.
Tim Richter [00:48:43] They didn’t wait for anybody’s permission. But the success there has been limited because they haven’t had the resources of the Federal government. But again, you know, Edmonton has reduced chronic or overall homelessness, 43 percent. Every major city in Alberta has reduced homelessness.
Mary Rowe [00:48:56] I was going to ask you guys that. I mean, do we have examples of communities that are doing it really well? Are there some are there some pockets of innovation and real effective action that we now need to just say, OK, let’s let those go viral and pump those out? You’re suggesting Alberta’s had some.
Tim Richter [00:49:13] Absolutely. Well, and now in now in Ontario, we have Guelph, Kawartha, Chatham Kent, Dufferin County. I mean, some places where you’re having some real rapid success, but we haven’t taken it on the really large scale yet.
Mary Rowe [00:49:28] Margaret were to throw something in?
Margaret Pfoh [00:49:30] Yeah, I think it’s a very interesting question. And I can’t help but take a look at it from a vulnerable perspective. And yes, I speak largely from the Indigenous perspective. I see one of our viewers inquired about the inequities, you know, from a gender, race, a broader gender, race kind of perspective. And I look back on my education in criminology and I think about a book that my mentor, speaker of the House actually for B.C., Darryl Plecas, gave me a book in my early education called Fragile Freedoms. And it’s about our fragile freedoms here in Canada. And the reality of what we’re seeing today, as Tim alluded to earlier, about the emergency response capacity of our country, when the emergency abates, we all fall back to our comfort zone, which was living under this, jurisdictional challenges. And I want to pick up where you had talked about accountability and not falling back into, you know, jurisdictional. Accountability versus responsibility are two different things. When we’re accountability has to be broken down by jurisdiction for sure. What responsibility is this entire country’s responsibility to not allow our country to fall back to the comfort zone of just letting our government dictate to us how we’re going to to move things forward. We as people. Tim here, John, Leilani. Yeah, we’ve been in this battle for a long time and there are really good people in multiple levels of government at all levels. But what happens is these good people get stuck in the old systemic process of government telling us how we’re going to move things forward. We need to change that conversation.
Mary Rowe [00:51:12] Yeah, I’m I’m hearing a call for revolution. Just saying. Leilani do you want to chime in on this?
Leilani Farha [00:51:18] Yeah, I like what both Tim and Margaret just said. I think that what needs to happen now is for people living in homelessness to claim some political power here. And and I think what they need to do and I’m actually committing myself to making this happen on a global scale, not just a Canadian wide scale, is to claim their right to a decent place to live during this pandemic and post pandemic period. And that that is the only thing they will accept from their governments. All levels of government. And I also think that if you look at any really, truly long term successful approach to addressing homelessness, what you’ll see is basically a housing first approach, which is ensure people have access to decent housing with social supports. But you will also see alongside that structural change. And that’s where you address what are the what are the causes of homelessness, because housing first doesn’t address causes always. And so the problem we’re in right now is, you know, I’ve heard government officials here say very clearly this program to aid this group of people is because we are in a state of emergency. This is not structural change that, you know, when Bill Morneau, finance minister, was asked by Senator Kim Pate whether they’re considering, you know, a guaranteed annual income. He said the moneys we’re providing are emergency monies. We are not looking at structural change. Now is not the time. So that’s a big fight that we have before us, because there’s a lot of structural change that’s quite necessary to address the issues raised on this, this chat.
Mary Rowe [00:53:01] John, do you want to jump in?
John van Nostrand [00:53:03] I just well, I’m just going to go back to the practical level, but I think one of the interesting examples that happened in Toronto was tent city. Back whatever it was 15 years ago? And I think that that kind of energy, that exposure that happened around that, with a little bit of planning and involvement to keep it a bit organized and assume from the beginning it’s going to remain in place, can happen and can happen at a big scale. After all, I hate to talk about history all the time, but when you came to Ontario originally as a homeless person, you got a lot you got the right to occupy for two years. And in that period, you had to build a house 16 by 20. That was all, there wasn’t the other rules. And when you had that house built, you’ve got this, you got a deed. So you then owned the property. We use that all in lots of other places. But that kind of simple approach, I believe, is really, really required right now. And I can tell you, our condominium or when I say I’m building condominiums everybody gets nervous. But all it is, it’s a floor plate divided into lots. And you could buy one, two, three or four and make the unit of your choice and you can buy them as basic, they’re legally occupyable or you can buy them as turnkey. You know.
Mary Rowe [00:54:17] OK. We’re kind of heading into the homestretch here, guys. I’m just curious about a couple of bigger questions. What do you think it’s going to take to do this? I heard Leilani say we’re going to have to hold governments accountable to not just see these as temporary measures are going to have to try to make it stick. What about money? What about access to money to actually fund the kinds of granular housing supply that I’m hearing John describe? Do people have a sense of that? Would access to more money- I’m talking about to create the supply, not just to raise the incomes of people. Would access to more money, create more of the supply, Tim, that you think we need to absorb people that are not housed?
Tim Richter [00:55:00] Yeah, I think the issue of money is important. I think the issue is also making best use of the money we have. You know, in 2007 we did a study in Calgary of the amount of money being invested in homelessness and it was $350 million dollars a year that was being spent on things that didn’t actually end anybody’s homelessness. So I think part of it is using the money we have better beginning and making sure the new investments are effective, but use the right to housing as a way of designing policy because that’s substantially how you make good policies around. We talk about housing and then units and and the structures and the systems, but we don’t actually talk about the people in those structures, in those systems. And the first step is talking to them. This is how the private sector works. You know, when you find out what the customer wants. The customer has power. You get a better system. Apply that to social policy. Use the right to housing as your founding principle.
Mary Rowe [00:55:59] Yeah. So it’s a question here. Can you ladder up specific kinds of examples? As Leilani is saying, you mobilize the user group and the people that are experiencing this viscerally. And then you ladder up policies that will work, that can can affect interventions, that will work locally, and then policies that need to be put in place to support them at the provincial and Federal level. Last question for everybody. John, we’ve lost your mic, so I’m afraid you’re gonna have to move to American sign language or we’ll just know you could type something in the chat if you like. I’m going to ask for last comments now about allies. Who do you see as the key allies that you need to mobilize as we actually try to come out of this with a changed housing and homelessness system? Leilani, you first.
Leilani Farha [00:56:46] Yeah, I see city governments as huge and important allies. Absolutely. But then also community groups that are working, you know, in the trenches, so to speak, with their boots on the ground. I can’t I can’t see anyone closer to the realities than those two groups. The people living it, the people working with the people living it and city level government. Key allies. I just want to say one thing about supply, though. I have to. I think people will know if you followed me at all that I’m not a big supply is the answer person. I think that we have a lot of existing supply that that and our dollars could go much further if we use the existing supply. And the problem with you, with building new supply is we still have to make the structural change to protect that supply from the big financial actors who come in, swoop in and take anything that’s affordable. So regardless, we need we need regulation of the financial actors. I’m going to end there.
Mary Rowe [00:57:47] Got it. Tim, 30 seconds to you.
Tim Richter [00:57:50] Well, I think we’re going to be launching a campaign in the next couple of weeks that’s really focused on taking this opportunity to drive for an end to homelessness. So I encourage you all to to tune in. And I think, you know, at the end of the day, I’ll go back to the point about the right housing. I think we have to empower people who are experiencing homelessness and housing need. And we have to, we have to follow their lead. And the last thing is, is really just remembering that this is about systems and structures. And so, for example, if you’re, you know, you’re waiting and you’re on a waiting list for social housing, you’re usually waiting in housing. So part of the equation is income. We can’t forget that. Right. And so it’s also supply and income in these big systems. But the big thing is deciding that you’re going to do it.
Mary Rowe [00:58:42] John, 30 seconds to.
John van Nostrand [00:58:45] I think we just have to realize that when you see somebody on the street lying on a grate or with a tent down in the valley, in this case, that’s the beginning of a housing process, should be the beginning of a housing process. And our job is to figure out what that process is step by step and facilitate as best we can. Yes, we need more money. You can also get started really quickly, and that’s in evidence in many other cities in the world where people have taken it in their own hands and they squatted. Or as I like the term in in Peru where they say that they call those young towns. And that’s exactly what we need. We need some young towns. We need to survey them out, at least with a bit of planning and let them go. And the Port Lands have been empty. We’ve put it aside for years for industry. It’s never come. It’s just sitting there. You know, it’s ridiculous.
Mary Rowe [00:59:40] It’s a young town. It could be a young town.
John van Nostrand [00:59:40] It’s a young town.
Mary Rowe [00:59:43] Margaret, last word to you.
Margaret Pfoh [00:59:45] Thanks. You know, my bugle call has now become Tracy Chapman’s song “Talking about a revolution”. And I don’t say that to incite anything, but I think our ally is really going to be all of our community population. I was going to say you, the people, but then I realized how quickly that could get misconstrued. You know, it’s really about our country as a whole. Starting to take a look at what really was possible during this pandemic and saying it’s not acceptable to go back to the status quo and that we actually push government on all levels and push our non-profits on all levels, well not push, but empower our non-profits on all levels to maintain the solutions we’ve already put to ground today and expand on them.
Mary Rowe [01:00:34] Thank you. You know, I’m just noticing on the chat function, we have a lot of allies on this chat function. We have people working in health systems as part of hospitals. We’ve got people working in the not-for-profit sector. We’ve got people working from the various levels of government who’ve been listening to this session. And it really is how can we as Leilani suggested, it’s not only about new supply, we may have existing relationships and existing systems that could be repurposed to actually move us forward in significant ways. So it’s a it’s it’s really incumbent on all of us to keep our eyes open and figure out how do we actually get this solved so that we do not have extraordinary vulnerability with this one very diverse sector of homelessness and people that are precariously housed. Can I just take this chance to thank Leilani and Tim and Margaret and John for joining us? Sorry about the technical challenges. John, you were a good sport. I think it could be the cow behind you that that put the hex on your audio system. Just saying and to all our panelists, we’re back on Thursday for a session on immigration, which is what built Canada. What is the future of Canada in terms of settlement settle and coping with supporting newcomers and then coping with what may be a big international tide that discourages immigration? So please join us Thursday midday Eastern. Have a good day, everyone, and thanks for joining us on City Talk.
John van Nostrand [01:01:49] Thanks, Mary.
Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.
12:01:10 From Abby S to All panelists: Hi Mary! Super City Talker reporting for duty!
12:02:41 From Canadian Urban Institute: firstname.lastname@example.org
12:02:52 From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: @ Abigail – Hey SCT!
12:03:17 From Canadian Urban Institute: #citytalk
12:03:54 From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:04:53 From Canadian Urban Institute: to find recordings or transcripts of today’s webinar please go to canurb.org/citytalk
12:05:09 From Canadian Urban Institute: #citytalk
12:05:37 From Andre Darmanin to All panelists: Going in and out of Zoom sessions from Vaughan ON
12:05:38 From Susan Fletcher: Margaret Pfoh — on the golf course!!!! <3
12:06:20 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Today’s panel:
Leilani Farha – https://twitter.com/leilanifarha
Margaret Pfoh – https://twitter.com/ahma_bc
Tim Richter – https://twitter.com/timrichter
John van Nostrand – https://www.parceldevelopments.com
12:07:25 From Melinda Munro to All panelists: Love that description – COVID is a particle accelerator.
12:07:56 From Mary Huang: are there any efforts to harness public willingness to direct some investment via community fun
12:08:17 From Mary Huang: fund or bond for hosuing solutions
12:13:49 From Irena Kohn: Aboriginal Housing Management Association http://www.ahma-bc.org/
12:13:56 From Mark Richardson: Just as a heads-up to all the GTA folks on this call, there is a Virtual Public-Meeting on WED. MAY 13th for the City of Toronto’s HOUSING NOW proposal for the huge Parking-Lot at WARDEN subway station. We would appreciate it if those advocating for “more affordable-housing units” could participate in that meeting / feedback process. https://twitter.com/housingnowto/status/1257321990802649088?s=21
12:14:26 From Andre Darmanin to All panelists: Thanks Mark
12:14:45 From Melinda Munro to All panelists: agree – heroic efforts of front line organizations who are coping with the existing crises. Preventing outbreaks.
12:16:02 From Irena Kohn: Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness https://caeh.ca/vision-mission/
12:16:05 From Thea Karlavaris: Great, thank you for the info Mark!
12:17:52 From Abby S: I would love someone on your panel to weigh in on Mayor Tory’s initiative for modular housing.
12:18:59 From Abby S: Were landlords allowed to evict? Not the main issue, but I thought there was a moratorium on residential evictions.
12:19:21 From Michael Aziz: Well said, Leilani.
12:21:43 From Walter Rogers to All panelists: I am listening and watching from London Ontario. Many of our homeless are now in hotels for social isolation due to virus. City is discussing post COVID and purchasing a building but would be interested in panel thoughts of wrap around services to make this investement a success
12:21:58 From Felipe Senisterra: “the home is the biggest line of defense against an outbreak” – very well put
12:22:37 From Andre Darmanin: I would like to know the panelists thoughts former AirBnb hosts are putting their former properties on the long term housing market and the potential of them kicking tenants out again once it’s safe to do so again? That is my worry.
12:23:20 From Nezahat Turegun: Very smartly said, Leilani!
12:23:33 From John Ryerson to All panelists: So much yellow belt but NIMBY sops housing density
12:23:51 From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: @walter – please repost to All panelists
12:25:31 From Andrew Smith: On John’s point, ‘Sweat Equity: Sharpe and Shawyer’, great read on the co-op housing history and experience in Newfoundland and Labrador
12:26:05 From Andre Darmanin: Do you have a link @andrew? Thanks
12:26:21 From Dean Fisher to All panelists: I was wondering if we could say to the condo builders, for every 10 units you are permitted to build you must build one unit for the homeless. So if they build 1,000 units, you must build 100 units and donate them to the city. Is that feasible?
12:26:40 From Samantha Mark: There are hidden homelessness that also occurs beyond the cities… as resulting from the same systemic policy gaps to address housing as a right
12:26:45 From Michael Aziz: Any correlation to electoral cycles, Tim?
12:27:34 From Abby S: Migration to cities?
12:28:00 From Andrew Smith: Andre, sold on-line through a quick search, Amazon etc.
12:28:57 From Shona de Jong: keen to have panelists address the Fed Govt CIRNAC/ISC accountability to homelessness/ housing insecurity for Indigenous people/First nations off reserve
12:28:59 From Melinda Munro to All panelists: Thank you Tim for that insight – we fixate on the housing form and not on the systems that create the mass modern homelessness
12:29:14 From Katrina Chaves to All panelists: I moved here from Detroit and was involved in affordable housing development for the City primarily through public private partnerships. I saw very strong local leadership across the board for promoting affordability as well as a diversity of financing tools esp. from public sector, and strong involvement from all three levels of gov. Recognizing that Canada has a different system, would like to hear about what funds are being made available to roll out affordable housing on a large scale.
12:30:08 From Jesse Jenkinson to All panelists: I have heard developers say that affordable housing is not profitable, and therefore they are unlikely to choose to provide it in any significant way. Is John able to speak to this issue? What is the incentive for developers to build affordable housing (in addition to a moral obligation to take care of fellow people)?
12:30:29 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome, new joiners! Just a reminder to change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees’ so we can all see your comments. Thanks!
12:30:41 From Abby S: In Toronto it took Covid-19…it wasn’t done before!
12:30:46 From Samantha Mark: Covid-19 is calling out the need for a re-do along governance – multi-ordinal collaborative based approaches to governance
12:31:05 From nrinder nann to All panelists: 63% of jobless as a result of pandemic, are women. Compound with loss of childcare options, women’s economic precarity has increased, and more and more women led households are about to lose their homes. Housing security is critical. Policy perspective needs to fast track affordable housing supply over condos.
12:31:13 From Mary Huang: hidden homeless of people couch surfing. i was shock to learn someone I met rents out her studio apartment 6 months in summer and lived in her car since she could not afford the apartment year am
12:31:47 From Mary Huang: any data on hidden homeless stats
12:32:14 From Olusola Olufemi to All panelists: There is no one size fit all solution to address the problem of homelessness. Homelessness is ‘a pandemic’ that has been complicated even more by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the street homeless, street, under the bridge, alleyways and all those marginal spaces in the city is their home. They have no place to call a home therefore it becomes to practice “stay home wash hands” etc instructions. They are always more vulnerable to any and every disaster. They street homeless are hit hard!
12:32:21 From Melinda Munro to All panelists: jurisdictional issues is red herring – hear, hear
12:32:34 From Samantha Mark: Mary, in a study we did on Indigenous homelessness outside of urban areas in Saskatchewan found situations similar to what you share above.
12:32:55 From Andre Darmanin: Yes @samantha. There has to be a redo of governance as well as org structures post COVID. The question is that will Canadian leaders want to do this?
12:33:48 From Andrew Bond to All panelists: Adequate emergency responses to covid for people experiencing homelessness are going to concretely establish the pivot point and link to durable change. Health care and social service supports are front and centre in leading this with our shelter and housing colleagues
12:34:13 From Abby S: @andre is the motivation to build modular housing to address the problem or is there a more cynical reason in terms of stopping the spread…not about housing pre se…a frightening thought that means it is not going to last.
12:35:07 From Angie Hocking: AMEN SISTER
12:35:07 From Andrew Bond to All panelists: Let’s make sure health care orgs are centred in their responsibilities on this. We are doing this across the country and CNH3 are supporting this push.
12:35:25 From Duncan Maclennan: more than most other rich countries higher order governments use the constitution as an excuse to pass the problem to local scales from whom tax resources have been removed and are not replaced by housing programmes.
12:35:33 From David Welwood: Totally agree. CMHC built housing after World War 2 on a grand scale – they can do it again!
12:36:19 From Abby S to All panelists: Is there a call in option?
12:36:31 From Abby S to All panelists: for john?
12:36:37 From Adrienne Pacini to All panelists: Agreed that there are new possibilities through the pandemic — many of these invisible parts of the system are becoming visible. Totally agree that leadership will be the key to actually translating some of those leverage points in the system into actual opportunities.
12:36:52 From Gloria Venczel: 2 things-#1 nature will not allow us to leave people behind as homelessness will ensure future pandemic waves #2 economic inequity, ie, gig economy, will ensure that people will continue to opt out of the “social contract” and not follow civil society rules for covid like social distancing. This speaks to the very foundation of our democracy.
12:36:56 From Andre Darmanin: @abby The modular housing is temporary. I wouldn’t be cynical about it.
12:37:01 From Abby S: That’s the question of will
12:37:03 From John Ryerson to All panelists: Isn’t the jurisdictional problem with conservative provincial governments picking up the operating costs and services?
12:37:08 From Mark Richardson: Just FYI – the CMHC Annual Public Meeting is this afternoon at 1:30 PM – https://twitter.com/cmhc_ca/status/1255565187467358216?s=21
12:37:31 From Andrew Bond to All panelists: Hospitals are also starting to needy in housing in Canada, in the states leading health care orgs are doing similar. This is not ever to replace but to augment housing as healthcare for those needing clinically enhanced supportive housing
12:37:35 From Mark Guslits to All panelists: Tim, great David Letterman beard look.
12:37:43 From Sharon Irven to All panelists: Maybe John should participate by chat?
12:37:47 From Abby S: @andre…but will it be used as transitional..what John spoke of…rather than dismantled.
12:37:58 From Jenna Dutton to All panelists: Adaptive re-use – Calgary has very high amount of office space that is sitting empty
12:38:25 From Abby S: The fact is…it was built very quickly…but it took Covid vs simply the crisis of homelessness itself. That’s my cynicism. (or worry)
12:38:29 From Sharon Irven to All panelists: To Tim: how many were rehoused after Alberta floods? missed %
12:39:06 From Andre Darmanin: @abby I’m not sure what will happen post-COVID. maybe you are right that it will be transitional and not really serve Housing first principles.
12:39:54 From Graham Wilson: Subdividing rural lands will only help those rich enough to afford it, and will fragment agricultural land and threaten environmentally protected land. There’s lots of urban land closer to services which won’t create more infrastructure and autodependency issues
12:39:55 From Lorne Cutler to All panelists: How much of the rebuilt housing in Calgary was paid for by insurance and how much by the government?
12:39:55 From Abby S: @andre…that would be better than dismantling wouldn’t it? Or will is provide an excuse to stop there?
12:39:59 From Andre Darmanin: Because what will happen to the homeless who really need the help. it has to be a combination of transitional and helping the homeless.
12:40:12 From Abby S: @yes
12:40:19 From Abby S: @andre- uyes
12:40:21 From Andrew Bond to All panelists: Let’s keep focused on the unique and terrible moment of covid as a specific moment to respond to as unique historically to accelerate ending homelessness. we need to not just double down on our existing ideas but how this unique moment allows this.
12:40:27 From Andre Darmanin: @abby Agreed.
12:40:36 From Tim Richter to Sharon Irven and all panelists: Everyone but about 2000 that were in downtown shelters
12:40:49 From Abby S: @margaret-yes exactly
12:40:57 From John Ryerson to All panelists: The Mayor of Toronto has refused for years to declare an emergency for homeless that would bring the kind of response Tim referred too in Calgary
12:40:58 From Andrew Bond to All panelists: specific strategy needs to emerge from the specific nature of covid or we will lose this opportunity
12:41:17 From Luigi Ferrara: The homeless problem is complicated by many factors such as mental health issues and lack of family tissue and connection to community. Homeless is a complex problem like a pandemic and it requires a systemic response and a crisis management approach as Tim has suggested.
12:41:18 From Andre Darmanin: Let’s continue this @abby.
12:41:29 From Sean Gadon: Thoughts of the panel given that emergency shelter standards have to permanetly change to provide longer term physical distancing than what existing system provides? The country’s shelter along with long-term care systems are in crisis!
12:41:34 From Adrian Nandez to All panelists: we can also ilnclude food and energy security into the comprehensive design/policty/etc that COULD/SHOULD come out of this pandemic
12:41:42 From Angie Hocking: What is your stance on the safety of the shelter systems during the pandemic? In Toronto, the general public thinks that people on the street are being offered apartments/hotels by Streets To Homes and folks are turning them down, however, most are being offered a spot in the shelters only. Can a 50 person shelter actually be a safe option during this time? (All signs point to no from health and safety perspective in my opinion)
12:41:57 From Mary Huang: i heard cmhc had trouble getting NHS funds out
12:42:05 From Andre Darmanin: No one has discussed racial equity and its relationship with housing (or I missed it)
12:42:09 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2zT6Bb5
12:42:47 From Andre Darmanin: Hi @sean. can you answer @abby’s question about the modular housing and what will happen to it post-COVID.
12:43:44 From Andre Darmanin: @abby Sean Gadon is a recently retired City of Toronto Director of Housing.
12:43:55 From TADESSE KEBEBE to All panelists: is there anyone who may something on disability vs homelessness, and vulnerability to COVID?
12:43:56 From Sean Gadon: Toronto’s modular housing is to be permanent for up to 50 year’s
12:44:11 From Melinda Munro to All panelists: @andre Margaret talked about the impacts on indigenous people and indigenous women, but yes, more needs to be said about equity impacts by race, gender, age
12:44:23 From Andrew Bond to All panelists: the pandemic has established that shelters cannot provide adequate health,safety and security. we need to build he rudiments of a ‘new supportive housing’ as the lowest possible ‘rung’ of the housing ladder. build it now and fast and furiously, then never let it go backward
12:44:54 From Abby S: @sean does each unit hold individual kitchen/washroom or are those shared?
12:44:56 From Andrew Bond: oops!
12:45:41 From Abby S: @Leilani AHHHHHHHH
12:45:43 From Sean Gadon: self contained units with real keys!
12:45:49 From Mary Ellen Glover to All panelists: vancouvers modular housing are self contained suites approximately 320 sq foot
12:46:21 From Abby S: @sean so not like the ones in Oakland that have deteriorated and are unsafe (they share porta-Potties but have a place to sleep. Not a good situation.
12:46:43 From Diane Dyson: Jurisdiction and economics are two central barriers thrown up around housing. Happy to see @DuncanMaclennan weighing in on this chat as he’s done some great international comparative on this.
12:46:43 From Sean Gadon: Exactly not like Oakland!
12:46:47 From Dianne Himbeault: The private sector also has to be held accountable, this situation shows that their wealth is built upon a house of cards, our precarious economic system falls apart when the 99% suddenly can’t pay their rent and buy their goods – need support for more tax equity and a living wage – will they see that it is in their best interest to have a functioning economy
12:47:00 From Andre Darmanin: Happy to See @sean and @diane here.
12:47:09 From Abby S: And it all returns to vulture capital…and how to stop it
12:47:10 From Andrew Bond: Summary:1.Adequate emergency responses to Covid for people experiencing homelessness
12:47:11 From Shona de Jong: can someone pls provide link to the CMHC Annual Public Meeting is this afternoon at 1:30 PM – not seeing it on this link https://twitter.com/cmhc_ca/status/1255565187467358216?s=21
12:47:16 From Gloria Venczel: Heads up- while modular housing is an immediate solution- they will stay in place for the next 20 years at least. Big caveat re: modular housing- we tried to warehouse poor people in the 1960’s without mixed use amenities + employment opportunities like cafes + corner stores that create safe public spaces to meet your neighbours in places like the former Regent Park in Toronto and Pruit Igo in St Louis. They were huge failures as architecturally, in form and programming, people couldn’t get to know each other and build trust and community. No one will invite a complete stranger into their living room until they have built up trust in a safe, local public space. Humans have evolved as a social species that do not function al all without culturally appropriate architecture to facilitate safe, regular social contact. Pruit Igo was blown up after 25 years. Regent Park has recently been demolished and gentrified.
12:47:26 From Katrina Chaves: Can panelists talk about the financing tools available for developing affordable housing?
12:47:33 From Mark Guslits: it does occur to me that, in this time of massive government spending in unprecedented amounts directed at food production, farming, industry, etc it would be a time to pour the massive funds across Canada necessary to “do it”
12:48:05 From Andrew Bond: Summary: Adequate emergency responses to Covid for people experiencing homelessness are going to concretely establish the pivot point and link to durable change. Health care and social service supports are front and centre in leading this with our shelter and housing colleagues
12:48:10 From Abby S: @Gloria…thank you. The issues you raised are what I could not articulate but am concerned about with modular housing.
12:48:27 From Melissa Ricci to All panelists: Funding is crucial for lower tier municipalities to implement housing strategies. Any ideas on what lower tier municipalities can do to advocate for this?
12:48:29 From Diane Dyson: Shoutout to Cindy Blackstock!
12:48:36 From Andrew Bond: Let’s make sure the health care orgs are centres in their responsibilities on this. We are doing this across the country and CNH3 are supporting thins push.
12:48:38 From Andre Darmanin: @gloria. I’m in a simulataneous Zoom discussion on rethinking density and the elite response to urbanism and housing, including Pruitt Igoe was discussed. Great that you raised it.
12:48:53 From Abby S: Emergency vs long term. And again is modular housing a response to covid or a response to homelessness…i don’t see them as one and the same
12:48:57 From Andre Darmanin: Break Down Silos NOW!
12:49:21 From Cheryll Case: amazing
12:49:25 From Karine LeBlanc: @andre to break down silos you must appeal to all of the silos. I don’t think one can impose coordination on others…
12:49:26 From Felipe Senisterra: Can the moderator/facilitator of this webinar keep this chat accessible for a few minutes following the discussion? There is lots of great depth and perspective within the chat discussion – lots to read and catch up on.
12:49:36 From Andrew Bond: Hospitals are also starting to invest in housing in Canada, in the states leading health care orgs are doing similar. This is not ever a replacement for housing but an augmentation to have clinically enhanced supportive housing for those in real need
12:50:03 From Abby S: @Andrew the need for wrap around services is critical
12:50:05 From Andre Darmanin: @karine. all parties must be involved for these important policy discussions.
12:50:10 From Shona de Jong: okay – found it https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/about-cmhc/Management-and-Governance/Annual-Public-Meeting
12:50:25 From Andrew Bond: Let’s keep focused on the unique and terrible moment of Covid as a specific moment to respond to as a unique historical point to accelerate ending homelessness. We need to not just double down on our existing ideas but how this unique moment supports and enables this
12:50:26 From Andre Darmanin: Hey @cheryll
12:50:53 From Andrew Bond: Specific strategy needs to emerge from the specific nature of Covid to prevent losing an opportunity amidst this tragedy
12:51:07 From Mark Guslits: as Tim has stated, we can indeed address homelessness on a broad basis. With money! At the end of the day thats what is mainly missing. Housing is critically needed and massively expensive. Now is the time to roll it into all other critically important services…and fix it.
12:51:28 From Paulina Mikicich to All panelists: Agree that the commodification of housing must stop. However if there is a lack of political will perhaps convincing politicians/governments that housing all of our populations makes sound economic sense (reduces health care costs, enhances the economy etc.) is a start. Another approach could be to tie government funding to progress on social metrics (e.g. addressing homelessness)
12:51:31 From Andre Darmanin: Money for programs but also infrastructure.
12:51:40 From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: Fragile Freedoms, T Berger
12:51:43 From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2155305.Fragile_Freedoms
12:51:45 From Mark Guslits: absolutely
12:52:20 From Gloria Venczel: @Abby- serious concern around warehousing poor people yet again. Their housing should be integrated seamlessly into existing neighbourhoods, as they are part of our society, with amenities that provide public spaces where everyone can take pride and ownership of their environment.
12:52:21 From Andrew Bond: The pandemic has established that shelters cannot provide adequate health safety and security. We need to build the rudiments of a ‘new supportive housing’ as the lowest possible ‘rung’ of the housing policy ladder. Build it now fast and furiously! We are just starting to go that way right now in Toronto on the ground and we need to do it everywhere and never let this go backward afterwards
12:52:27 From nrinder nann: Housing precarity was growing prior to the pandemic. And now with 63% of jobless since pandemic being women, we are going to see more need every month without a eviction moratorium on city level. This pandemic is showing a reckoning of values and what action is required.
12:53:07 From Abby S: @nrinder that is frightening
12:53:20 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2zT6Bb5
12:53:37 From Cheryll Case: Great points Leihlani!
12:54:31 From Alina Chatterjee to All panelists: Ditto that- great points- thanks Leihlani!
12:54:43 From John Ryerson to All panelists: Toronto keeps tearing down tents in response in part to the upscale condos downtown
12:54:45 From Angie Hocking: @Andrew Bond completely agree
12:54:48 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff to Felipe Senisterra and all panelists: Felipe we will keep the chat open for about 15 minutes after the talk is over. You can also check in on our CityTalk blog in a few days for the chat transcript, as well as a list of resources culled from the chat during this talk.
12:55:20 From Samira Farahani to All panelists: cumulation of non affordable prices through the period of time causes problem in housing.
12:55:41 From Adrian Nandez to All panelists: Is @ JOhn talking about ” pen city” Toronto? Did i get that right?
12:55:45 From Gloria Venczel: homelessness, like jails, is a philosophy of punishment, not rehabilitation. It costs $60K per year to treat a homeless person at ST. Paul’s hospital per year in Vancouver. Yes, homelessness is an ideological result.
12:55:48 From Samira Farahani: cumulation of non affordable prices through the period of time causes problem in housing.
12:55:52 From Abby S: Don’t we need the support of the health systems? the role that mental health supports play is an important one…
12:55:52 From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: Tent City
12:56:03 From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: @ Adrian – TENT city
12:56:05 From Julieta Perucca to All panelists: We need structural change. Structural change is practical change. We need to move forward with a Human Rights approach to housing.
12:56:15 From Mary Huang: cppib invest in several (7-8) blackstone funds not sure if any include real estste
12:56:26 From TADESSE KEBEBE to All panelists: money matters great
12:56:26 From Andre Darmanin: Agreed @abby SDH is critical in the policy decision making and development
12:56:37 From Julieta Perucca to All panelists: www.maketheshift.org
12:56:40 From Katrina Chaves: Why are there so few affordable housing developers in Canada relative to US?
12:56:49 From Sean Gadon: Guys looks like we are heading into a recession – so the housing agenda will become even more important as poor and marginalized groups will be hardest hit – as Tim said must talk about the people who need support.
12:56:50 From Andrew Bond: Please reach out to us at CNH3 and Tim at CAEH if you’re wanting to build healthcare supportive housing into the future of reimagining housing. Seamless integration, and healthcare providers and organizations will help bring the leverage to get the money needed for housing. Healthcare voices can be unbelievably strong if we can get ourselves aligned. Housing is healthcare, ‘value-based’ health policy requires the most efficient investments for health, and housing and basic income are the two most fundamentally powerful investments!
12:56:58 From John Ryerson: Is the problem to solve within the progressive bubble or finding language to broaden the political support – thinking of the 19th c “lazy” comment yesterday by a leader ?
12:57:16 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2zT6Bb5
12:57:25 From Andre Darmanin: Agreed @Sean. re recession. housing and homelessness, as much as transit, will be critical.
12:57:32 From Mark Guslits: absolutely money would help. In the 80’s and 90’S when the feds and province were at the table, tens of thousands of new coops and non profits were built.
12:57:40 From Canadian Urban Institute: #citytalk
12:57:41 From Duncan Maclennan: great moral cases for permanent solutions made here, but there will be real fiscal difficulties after emergency so there needs to be much better evidenced cases for raising housing share vis a vis health, education etc.
12:58:10 From Irena Kohn: https://www.tvo.org/video/documentaries/push-feature-version
12:58:46 From Mary Huang: recession is a given. risk is closer to a depression since a number businesses are not going to survive
12:59:13 From Andre Darmanin: @katrina 👋🏾. We both were in the US. Different mindsets and leadership.
12:59:15 From Lorne Cutler: Governments spent a lot more in 80s and 90s until their deficits were so high (as well as inflation) and the government hit a debt wall. Did the government cut the right things in order to balance finances. That is up for debate and housing surely suffered but I can’ image any group agreeing to seeing their funding cut.
12:59:56 From Lorne Cutler: Are the U.S. tax free municipal bonds part of the solution?
12:59:58 From Canadian Urban Institute: Transcripts and recordings of this and all our webinars can be found at canurb.org/citytalk
13:00:03 From Mirella Palermo: Great conversation from everyone.- thank-you! #HousingRightFight
13:00:21 From Alina Chatterjee to All panelists: Yes, very useful and insightful- thank you!
13:00:29 From Mary Huang: might need to explore something similar to Montreal and their funds harnassing investment paying 5-6%.. non profit are sometimes paying close to that but jump through hoops
13:00:41 From Jonathan Giggs: Thank you for this important discussion
13:00:45 From Graham Wilson: Lots of mall parking lots could be a good place for “young towns” … no need to create new settlement areas far from services and jobs
13:01:04 From Andre Darmanin: @lorne. I raised bonds in a recent CUI discussion and that panel’s response was tepid. I’m all for bonds having seen them work while I was in LA.
13:01:07 From Andrew Bond: Helathcare makes up massive >40% of public budgets, value-based healthcare unlocks immense capital to elevate housing. Need the capital and power
13:01:11 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2zT6Bb5
13:01:14 From Cheryll Case: 🎉
13:01:16 From Abby S: Malls are going to disappear…but privately owned…
13:01:18 From Abby S: But maybe
13:01:31 From Arash Oturkar to All panelists: Great talk, very insightful!
13:01:45 From Sean Gadon: Well done everyone!
13:01:45 From Abby S: Thank you Mary…these Talks fly by
13:01:52 From Graham Wilson: Thank you!
13:01:56 From Jenna Dutton to All panelists: Thank you!
13:01:56 From Erika Morton: Thanks and with you all in seeing systems change as a result of the pandemic.
13:01:58 From Andre Darmanin: add me to Linkedin (Andre Darmanin) and/or Twitter @andredarmanin
13:02:01 From Arash Oturkar to All panelists: City of Toronto is now working on modular housing, will be interesting to see how it goes.
13:02:04 From Abby S: Yes thank you to the panelists for your work
13:02:09 From Raza Jafri to All panelists: we would love to help. if there is any public leader here who needs online interactive applications of cities. We are working with City of Toronto
13:02:09 From Ryan Walker: excellent panel. great complementary expertise.
13:02:12 From Raza Jafri to All panelists: www.3dcityscapes.ca
13:02:16 From Margaret Krawecka to All panelists: Great discussion!
13:02:18 From Susan Fletcher: Building on Abby S — some malls are owned by Oxford properties, the real estate arm of OMERS municipal pension plan . . . Maybe!
13:02:19 From Daniella Davila Aquije: Thank you!
13:02:20 From Raza Jafri to All panelists: great talk!
13:02:20 From Shona de Jong: thankyou
13:02:21 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2zT6Bb5
13:02:24 From Sophie Porter: Thank you everyone, really interesting
13:02:28 From TADESSE KEBEBE to All panelists: thank you all
13:02:29 From Sam Carter-Shamai: thanks all!
13:02:53 From Nina!: great discussion, thanks all!
13:02:59 From Lisa Mactaggart: When I take the go train into TO there is so much land storing junk…old vehicles, shipping materials and just old stuff. This land should be brought into more productive use.
13:03:00 From Abby S: If only OMERS would use its heft
13:03:06 From Mark Guslits: great chat. thanks CUI and Mary.
13:03:11 From Alysson Storey: Great discussion, gave me much to think about for our rural, agricultural community. Best wishes to all and look forward to tuning in on Thursday!
13:03:30 From Abby S: “see” you Thursday
13:05:10 From Felipe Senisterra: On the OMERS example, many others are owned by Cadillac Fairview, who’s parent company is the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan
13:05:45 From Felipe Senisterra: Fantastic discussion – very thought-provoking. for a dynamic chat!