Homeless during a pandemic: What are the challenges and looming threats?

Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our  series about what’s working, what’s not, and what’s next, as we (re)imagine the right to home – Homeless during a pandemic: What are the challenges and looming threats? are Stephanie Allen, Associate Vice-President of  Strategic Business Operations and Performance, BC Housing; Eddie Golko, Participant, Us and Them; Krista Loughton, Filmmaker, Us and Them; Karen Montgrand, Participant, Us and Them; and Tim Richter, President and CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. 

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1.     Collaboration with lived experts is essential to developing long-term solutions

Stephanie Allen of BC Housing discussed the approaches taken to address homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the opening of emergency spaces “to [space] out people who are particularly vulnerable to the virus” and engaging with Indigenous peoples in decampment processes. Stephanie also emphasized the importance of working in collaboration with housing advocates and people with lived experience to design trauma- and culturally-informed solutions and spaces. She emphasized “the importance of hearing from people what the solutions are that they need” by saying that “we shouldn’t be doing this work without peer involvement anymore […], we know where the shoe pinches, let us design the shoes to walk in.”

2. The right to housing is fundamental

It is clear that the risks and impacts of homelessness in Canada have been deeply exacerbated by the pandemic. Tim Richter highlighted the need to approach the right to housing as “a significant investment” rather than a stop-gap measure. He, too, identified the importance of working alongside those with lived experience in addressing the crisis, and amplifying their voices wherever possible.

3.     For people experiencing homelessness, staying connected with family and friends is both valuable and, at times, challenging

Us and Them film participants Eddie Golko and Karen Montgrand discussed the value of relationships with families and friends for those experiencing homelessness. Karen Montgrand stated that she frequently communicates with her friends who are homeless, offering them assistance and safe places to stay when possible. Eddie Golko discussed his priority of reconnecting with his children and grandchildren: “my family means a lot. I’ve got kids, grandkids, and I’m trying to open up a pathway, you know, to see them.”

4.     Art can be used to shed light on lived realities, but is only a starting point

Us and Them filmmaker Krista Loughton discussed the film’s role in helping audiences grasp the complex realities of living on the street: “What I was feeling when I started making Us and Them was that there was a real disconnect between the average person, [the] general population and what was actually really happening on the ground in shelters and the reality of street life.” She discussed her findings while making the film, including how childhood trauma and abuse is a major factor that contributes to chronic homelessness.

5.     An uncomfortable but necessary conversation

Addressing issues surrounding homelessness requires uncomfortable conversations about systemic change, system failures, and confronting legacies of colonialism and racism across all sectors of society, from the general public to elected officials. Tim Richter explained, “It’s challenging, it’s painful, there’s conflict, but that’s necessary conflict.” The panelists agreed that tackling the crisis of housing in Canada will require creativity, bravery, and a willingness across the board to transform the status quo.


Full Panel

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 events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:19] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute Broadcasting this morning. Actually, it’s midday here in Toronto. But for most of our panelists, they’re all on the West Coast. So they’re just getting going, having their cups of coffee, mid morning tea, potentially perhaps. These broadcasts originate in Toronto, but they’re broadcast across the country and into North America and in Europe. And we are very appreciative of people that are dialing in from other places. We think it’s so important that we learn from each other and we get a chance to take a moment to really make sense of what the impacts of COVID is are on all of us and on our communities. So we appreciate people taking the time out of their day to be with us and our guests. We’re going to help us learn more and understand more about the impact that COVID is having on people who are homeless and people that are living in in who are unhoused, who we’re not living in the right kinds of the safest kinds of environments that we would all hope that they would. This is part of something called the Right To Home Week. Some of you will have joined us yesterday. There are sessions tomorrow and Thursday as well, all focusing on whether or not the right to housing is a way for us to be able to have better outcomes and really address the fundamental systemic challenges we seem to have here in Canada, but not just in Canada around the provision of homes and housing. We these broadcasts originated in terms of where CUI is as headquartered as in Toronto, which is traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, Chippewa, the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. It’s home now to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis from across Turtle Island, and Toronto’s also covered by Treaty 13 to sign with Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams treaties that were signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we have these conversations and I think we’re into the maybe the fifty third or fifty fourth that we’ve been doing so several a week. And we have these conversations in the context that we’re settlers, predominately most of us, and that we are in territories that were held and have been held by an indigenous people for years, years and years prior to our arrival. And how do we come to terms with that legacy and how do we actually make the kinds of changes in terms of how we build cities, plan cities, govern cities, finance cities similarly through COVID that we’ve become aware of all the other dysfunctions that exist in city life. There is much we probably perhaps we’re aware of them before, but now they are much magnified or exacerbated by the conditions of COVID, and that includes homelessness. But it also includes racism and systemic bias and all the things that continue to compromise our ability to make communities for everyone. So we have these conversations trying to navigate our way through that and figure out how do we build back better and how do we emerge from this pandemic, however long it takes? How do we emerge with systems that are better and serve people more appropriately and better? So joining us today, as I suggested, are folks in sunny Victoria. I actually think I can see sunshine behind the Victoria crew and Stefanie’s in Vancouver and Tim is in Kelowna. You’re all in BC. So you’re all having your morning coffee this morning with us. And as I mentioned yesterday, we have a big crew of sponsors and helping to make this these conversations this week all the more valuable. And I think that what it what it underscores to me, there’s a long, long list of them. And maybe what I’ll do is I’ll read them at the end today rather than beginning. But what it underscores to me is that it takes a lot of people, a lot of institutional change, a lot of momentum to try to actually solve this. It’s not one individuals per se struggle. It’s not one organization struggle. It’s not one level of government. It’s really an all hands on deck moment in terms of how we understand the crisis that we’re facing around homelessness. So I’m going to start with the gang in Victoria because there’s three of them. And then I’m told that, um, this is their first time together doing something like this. So that’s great. We’re glad you’re making your debut here on City Talk. Part of Right to Home Week is having two films that are available for continual screening. And I really hope that people in the chat have taken advantage of this. And if you haven’t, that’s what you need to do tonight is take a moment and see if you can watch all these films that are available for you to watch them for free, which is tremendous. Thank you to the producers of both films. Bush, which features Leilani Farha, is all about the financialization of housing and then Us and Them and the director and I think producer of Us and Them is with us, Krista, and two of the stars of Us and Them, although I don’t think they want to call themselves probably stars. But Krista and Karen are a sorry. Eddie and Turner are with us. And actually all three of you were in the film and but Eddie and Karen and their stories, they tell their stories on that film. So I’m going to turn to you first in Victoria. Krista, why don’t you just give us a bit of a sense of your experience in Victoria and then I’d like to talk to Eddie and Karen about their particular experience and how COVID it is affected them and affecting their friends and and their communities.


Krista Loughton [00:05:18] We want to do a land acknowledgment.


Mary Rowe [00:05:20] Yes.


Krista Loughton [00:05:20] But also we’re gathered in the land of the Lekwungen people who have walked for thousands of years here and they’ve shared the lines with the Esquimalt nation. And I feel I must honor the gift of being allowed to share the medicine of these lands by raising my hands to them. My friend Eddie Charlie wrote those words for me to share today. And when I asked him how he feels when he hears a non-indigenous person doing a land acknowledgment, he says. I cry because I don’t think the people who are my people are making. I don’t think people who are making an effort to acknowledge the history of the land know that they have benefited from our hurt since first contact and continue to do so today. A third of the homeless people on these lands identify as injured as Indigenous. Yet Indigenous people make up less than five percent of the general population here. So to understand why this disproportionate number exists, I want to add something proactive to this land acknowledgment and invite people to read the definition of Indigenous homelessness in Canada. It’s on the homelesshub.ca And I can put it in the comments. We raise our hands to you, Eddie. And to all the survivors of settler colonization. So we have seen a lot of activity here in in Victoria around some of the things that I would call pretty progressive ways to to deal with homelessness. One is straight up housing people. We housed probably about four hundred and fifty people from the beginning of COVID. Three hundred and forty four of those were housed in less than a month in hotels here. And safe supply was also introduced, which is something that I, I thought was light years away. So, Covid, it has has pushed things, but they’re just not without problems and it’s not without difficulties. And there’s still it’s it’s hard to actually say, but probably, you know, don’t quote me, but three to four hundred people who are still left outside in Victoria who didn’t get housing. So I think that’s what we’re really focused on here in Victoria, is how do we get everyone inside and how do we create the affordable housing that’s required. And in addition to that, start treating drug addiction as a health care issue and something that that that needs to be looked at like addiction medicine. So that’s where we are with it here in Victoria in terms of Covid.


Mary Rowe [00:07:59] We we work quite a lot with your mayor, with Mayor Helps, who’s really becoming a national leader on this and knowing her, she’s probably on the on the broadcast listening in. And she’s, I know, experiencing some opposition in Victoria, not just from locals, but also I see the premier actually is objecting to some of the things that she’s decided to do in terms of how Beacon Hill is being used in camps. I want to try to get you. I’m sorry. Go ahead.


Krista Loughton [00:08:27] It’s I think it’s very irresponsible of our premier to say things like that at a time like this. The community is already so polarized. And for him to come out and say that that there’s a seven to seven bylaw here where people who are camping in parks need to pack up their tents. And Bonnie Henry has and also the BC Center for Disease Control in the US Center for Disease Control says that people need to shelter in place. And the premier is going directly against that and calling out Victoria’s leadership. And it’s just it’s like, why do that right now? It’s already so volatile.


Mary Rowe [00:09:05] Yeah, well. And as you say, I guess that’s it. It’s volatile. And I’m sure that Tim and Stephanie will have views on this, too, because their Tim gets involved in this issue across the country. And Stephanie’s working for B.C. housing. So I’ll ask them in a second to comment. But before I do go to that, I just want to talk to Eddie and Karen about living on the street. And because you’ve lived both of you have lived on the street and you’ve gone to that experience. So tell me, what would you imagine would be the challenges for you if you were still living on the street during COVID? And I’m sure you have friends that you’re talking to. So, Eddie, can you talk to us a little bit about what this last several months has felt like for you?


Eddie Golko [00:09:44] For myself, it’s been all right because I found housing. But most of my friends are still on the streets. And so they’re a little bit scattered around. Most of them have been housed. And luckily. But still, there is a great problem, you know, of. People that are drug addicted, homeless and just have nowhere to go.


Mary Rowe [00:10:20] Yeah.


Eddie Golko [00:10:21] So they’re just, you know. What do you do?


Mary Rowe [00:10:27] Yeah. You know, this phrase that we were to shelter at home, has ended up being not a good thing for all sorts of people if you didn’t have a home. Or maybe you have an unsafe home or maybe you have a home that’s already too crowded. So it’s been difficult. And Eddie, in terms of your friends, when you say they’ve been they’re sort of scattered. Is that also a challenges that you actually don’t know where everybody is?


Eddie Golko [00:10:55] Exactly, yeah. You know, so you see one person here, one person there and you sort of you know, talking. Learn, you know, how they’re doing, and um so it’s become a little bit. You know, disenfranchized. No.


Mary Rowe [00:11:17] Because it’s taking people from their place.


Eddie Golko [00:11:19] Yeah.


Mary Rowe [00:11:19] Yeah. Their neighborhood. Yeah. I think this is one of you know, we’re trying to figure out, are there lessons we need to learn? And it seems to me one of them is people have an attachment to a place and you want housing to be near the place, not somewhere else in the middle of wherever.


Eddie Golko [00:11:39] Yeah. Yeah.


Mary Rowe [00:11:41] Karen, what about what’s Karen? What was your. Its ok.


Karen Montgrand [00:11:45] I was just falling asleep.


Mary Rowe [00:11:47] That’s all right. I’ll keep you awake. Don’t worry. Tell us about your experience with this. What have you been. How have you been coping with COVID?


Karen Montgrand [00:11:56] Oh, I’m not too bad because I’ve been staying home since I heard that we have this COVID here. I keep myself at home once in a while I go out, oh, give me my pain stuff as I go grocery shopping, giving myself a little bit. I want you to give myself to stay home. Yep. Sometimes I go visit my friend’s in town. By our place, I usually bring two at a time home to stay here with me, keep me company.


Mary Rowe [00:12:26] That’s good.


Karen Montgrand [00:12:26] I can keep them out of there for a while.


Mary Rowe [00:12:30] And if you have.


Karen Montgrand [00:12:32] To stay with me but they wouldn’t. I think they’d rather be outside than being indoors. You know what I mean?


Mary Rowe [00:12:40] Well, that is bad is another part of it, isn’t it? Is that it? Right now, it’s safer to be a lot of people believe it’s safer to be outdoors.


Karen Montgrand [00:12:51] Becuase you know why, because I’ve been out there for 20 years. You know, I think I’ve been out there more than they have. You know, I started out in near Alberta. And so I think one was. Well, Victoria is kind of one. From the one where they’re being joined by chance because selected are just like doing their dope and drinking. Which I do drink, but not all the time. And the line I used to enjoy that when I was outside. This parent parent was just to give my dope and not like my taste and everything, you know. That’s not it anymore, I myself now. I thought about everything, what I used to do or say so was that if she followed my friends. I usually talk to them when I take them home. Talking to them is okay with them But I wonder out there again. Yes.


Mary Rowe [00:13:52] Yeah.


Karen Montgrand [00:13:53] Always. You know, you from a couple of days after they go home they go back on the street. forget about what  to talk to him about. I don’t really know.


Mary Rowe [00:14:06] Yeah. And these are saying these are our challenges that existed before COVID. People were living on this off and on the streets, and now COVID just made it that much more difficult, I think. Right.


Karen Montgrand [00:14:21] Hopefully. I just hope. Krista, I said, I just hope got to get into a building somewhere. I’m pretty sure they’d take good care. Good.


Mary Rowe [00:14:33] Right. Well, let’s let’s talk let’s talk to Stephanie about that, because Stephanie’s in the business, she’s at B.C. Housing and she’s. I want to hear what her perspective is. She’s been trying to build housing. Stephanie, I’m assuming you’ve been with B.C. housing for a number of years, so you’ve got lots of experience you can share with us and tell us how things have changed during COVID and what what have you been challenged by? And then let’s talk further later on about what you think the possibilities might be. Can you tell us a little bit from your perspective, is Karen right about that? We just you know, there are more and more people that need units and we don’t seem to have them. Go ahead, Stephanie.


Stephanie Allen [00:15:10] Yeah. I mean, really, in a nutshell. And I also want to acknowledge that I’m talking to today from the unseeded ancestral homelands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil- Waututh people. As a descendent of enslaved people on this hemisphere, I really stand in strong solidarity under the experiences of colonization and and really recognize how this is showing up in homelessness across our country. So as we make these acknowledgments, you know, it’s really important, I think, at this time to reflect on what that means when we are standing and talking about the crisis of homelessness and what the drivers are. Because as you mentioned at the beginning, Mary, you know, so many of our systems that many of us who have been working on them for years knew were not meeting the needs of everyone. It came quite glaringly exposed, you know, during the COVID pandemic, whether it was the issues of city planning that have put certain people in certain areas without access to certain things, whether it’s, you know, in that in that builtin deep segregation that we see in our cities, whether it’s, you know, the child welfare system and youth in crisis, people, you know, experiencing violence in the home and not having resources and where to go. I mean, all of these things, as well as the policing aspect of people who are, you know, without housing, without access. So all of those things became quite glaringly into focus. And then we found in the local context that, you know, of course, you know, in the response to COVID, many services shut down. Many of public amenities were closed. Places where people could normally go for food, could go for services, laundry, hygiene. Those things were shuttered due to the response. We also saw guest policy change in support of housing projects or places where people might be able to couch surf. They were no longer able to do that because of, you know, the requirements to keep, you know, residents safe. You know, these these things changed. And then we saw, of course, you know, with the people not all being unsafe supply, all those safe supply has been a very important move during the pandemic. And even before that, what people were doing to medicate their pain, which we know addictions to be, you know, that the supply was becoming more and more toxic. So this preexisting, you know, crisis of not really treating pain and pain management. Well, for people who are struggling has really exacerbated, you know, the issues that people were facing on on without shelter. And so in our work with B.C. housing, you know, we were looking at getting into high gear on how we were supporting communities across the province. And being really cognizant of the ways that, you know, there are impacts to the existing services. So we had conversations across different municipalities about health authorities, about opening up emergency spaces, because we know that homeless shelters, being what they are, are not also good places to isolate or be, you know, shelter, shelter at home. So opening up spaces for people to be able to access better spaces, spacing out people who are particularly vulnerable. Right. To to the virus. And who would if they were to contact it would be it would be devastating. So that was also another another thing that we had to kick into gear for. And of course, we had these larger encampments across the province of people who are sheltering together and our pre work here in Vancouver of working with camp advocates and working with people in situation. And peers was really about understanding how to do work. That was trauma informed and culturally informed. You know, we were learning a lot directly from people impacted. You know, many of us are in the position of privilege, working with people who are homeless and trying to figure out, you know, how to best serve. But I think centering voices is something we came to really understand. The real gravity of the importance of is to hear from people what the solutions are that they need and to do our best to meet them so that when we had the public safety order here in Vancouver, we had preexisting relationships. We had already really done a lot of outreach work with people and not in a camp meet here in Vancouver. And we’re able. To work with them in a real, culturally informed way, you know, we we we brought in Galey Communications. You know, another thing is, you know, people who are homeless don’t necessarily have cell phone service or data or are watching the news like we were all doing every day, you know, catching the update. So in order to communicate with people, it was we needed to find new ways and new channels because unfortunately, rumor mills happen and those rumor mills can be sometimes erroneous. And people would be getting the wrong information. So communication was another major thing that we had to start to to pay attention to. So, you know, we had the also the benefit of getting funding to to to take on hotels to put, you know, folks in and to offer that accommodation, as well as some of our own directly manage stock and housing stock in the sector. And so those accommodations were actually very well received by people. We’ve heard very positive stories about people who have settled into hotels here in Vancouver because, you know, we had that relationship going in the communication. I mean, there’s a lot of hesitation sometimes when people are being asked to move on. Distrust in the system is is warranted. The system has failed so many people. And so being able to offer those accommodations and work with people to to happen successfully transfer out of being outside into hotels was another really important aspect of our response locally. But we know it’s not enough because there still remains unsheltered people.


Mary Rowe [00:21:05] So, Stephanie. Can I pursue you on that a bit? Just give us the basics. How many units does B.C. housing have?


Stephanie Allen [00:21:13] In in all of our stock or are directly manage stock in British Columbia. We have approximately just over 5000 unit. But in the not for profit sector, there’s upwards of sixty thousand.


Mary Rowe [00:21:26] Sixty thousand. And of that, roughly what percentage would be would be called termed supportive housing where there are other supports?


Stephanie Allen [00:21:35] That’s a good question. I’m not sure of the exact count across the province, but I know that we have a number of those types of supportive housing, both permanently built as well as our temporary modular projects. We’ve got a number on the way. But yes, we know that there’s more folks in the homeless count than we currently have spaces. So we have a lot of work, but we’re still doing.


Mary Rowe [00:21:58] And do you have any idea what the gap is?


Stephanie Allen [00:22:01] That’s a good question. So we did house in Vancouver, close to 300 people. And as Krista mentioned during the crisis and then as Krista mentioned, in Victoria, we house as well. Upwards of over 400 people. So we had that big opportunity through this, you know, unfortunate crisis that we were in. And we know that there’s still, like at the last homeless count in Vancouver between both people in shelter and unsheltered was around two thousand. And we know that we since that homeless count, we have not necessarily created two thousand permanent spaces. Rate, you know. You know, mandate. And we have been given a lot of resources, but we know that there’s there’s still way more resources necessary, particularly because there is a pipeline, unfortunately, of people going into homelessness, because the upstream solutions are still not quite there. We talk about, you know, child welfare programs when we talk about domestic violence, when we talk about, you know, kids being kicked out of school. When we talk about racism and what people face is discrimination and exclusion from the economic and social aspects of our society. So there’s still this pipeline, unfortunately, of people that emerge into homelessness who were, let’s say, precarious pre-COVID. But the circumstances of losing jobs, losing, we need to stay where they were facing other crisis in the home has driven more people outside.


Mary Rowe [00:23:30] Yeah, it’s more acute. Tim, don’t panic. I haven’t forgotten you’re there. But I’m gonna go back to Eddie and Karen for a sec. So Eddie and Karen, both of you, I think, would live in what’s called supportive housing. Right. Because I know, Eddie, you’ve had a struggle with addiction and I know Karen as well. Both of you have that as part of your life and your history. Do you have a thought on this in terms of if we’re going to try? If Stephanie is going to try to make things better coming out? Would Eddie, would you put a priority on the other supports? So it’s not just the roof over your head.


Eddie Golko [00:24:06] While the other factors are once you put a person in housing, what are they going to do after that?


Mary Rowe [00:24:14] Right.


Eddie Golko [00:24:17] You’re going to be some type of program where, you know, you can get skilled labor, you know, get them off maybe the system. So I think that’s another priority. We have to look at.


Mary Rowe [00:24:36] And the. So, yeah. Karen, what about you? Do you have a view on that, about what other support you need? Not just the roof over your head, but have you found that you already described that you’re sort of providing support to your neighbors already by having them come and visit you?


Karen Montgrand [00:24:54] Yeah, I usually let them come and visit me. Like not doing what they’re doing. I should try to stay cool. Tell me I can do that at home because I don’t do dope once in a while nowadays. I used to be a heavy drinker, right? Well, I’m still a way down. I’m trying to teach them how to do that. Trying to keep them away from it. But they don’t. I don’t know. They don’t. It doesn’t help them. They rather just go their way without needing help. I think they want to do it their way. One of them troller, did she get out of a house? I can mentioned her name, a place that’s just been on the street for a while. Sometimes I see her here but I haven’t seen her around. She doesn’t have a tent or a tent to go to. Right. She says she doesn’t give a place like a little apartment. Even a bachelor apartment she said she would try and smarten up, like probably go to detox and stuff like that. She was telling me that once in a blue moon. Nice to see her on the street. And just you talk to me about it. And I told her to come to my place one night. She couldn’t do it. He’s just going to go to Town Square and do her own thing, right?


Mary Rowe [00:26:11] So does the support system that allowed. It has to somehow respect people’s choice. They’re going to live their life. But you want to find a way to at least give them some options. Tim, let’s go to you. You’ve spent a career trying to build these systems so that there are options to support people like Karen’s friend who who needs more than just a roof. Can you talk to us about what you’re observing across the country?


Tim Richter [00:26:41] Well, I think one of the things that’s really important, first and center and before I get sorry, I just want to say acknowledge that I’m I’m a guest here on the Okanagan Territory and unseeded territory. People so pleased to be speaking to from Iona. I think it’s important for us to remember that homelessness is a product of policy. And that’s fundamentally what it is. And you know, when what what you know what Eddie and Karen have experienced or are is the result of choices that have been made in the last 30 years and the product of colonization. Right. And if we are going to address some of these things, then we need to be direct in dealing with the policy choices that created homelessness first place. And the right to housing is central to solving this crisis because it is fundamentally about transferring power. It’s about giving power back and control over the lives back to. And folks like them so that so that those. That those policy choices that create homelessness can’t be done or can be undone. And the right to housing also ensures that folks like Eddie and Karen are the experts and are the center of fixing these policies. And when you when you talk about child intervention. Talk about a welfare check with things like that. If you if you build those systems or rebuild, the systems are fixed. The policy is working backward from the people that are in those systems and are subject to those systems. But give them some power. Then you get much better policy. You get you get social policy intervention policy that is effective and works. I mean, I often use the example, you know, of of the market right in the private market. So you see.


Mary Rowe [00:28:47] Tim. I think you’re using your inside voice because I know you’re staying at your parents. And so.


Tim Richter [00:28:55] I’m too quiet.


Mary Rowe [00:28:56] You told me that. That’s a lot louder. So you can all hear you. So keep going.


Tim Richter [00:29:02] Yeah. So I’m just saying that I think it’s really important that when we’re designing when we’re designing the systems, we put the people in the systems in the driver’s seat of the redesign. Right. Because if you think about the private market. Right. The thing that makes market work is that the customer has power. Right. So that the system has to respond to the customer. Right. Housing ensures that eventually the social policy, those systems have to respond to the customer. So it gives Eddie and Karen some power in that in that system. And that’s the key to reversing some of these policies are created. And the last point I’d make rather quickly and hopefully with enough volume is that one of the things that Covid has shown us is that we can respond really quickly and really effectively and we can move quickly and that homelessness is solvable if we choose to do it. And the only way politicians and you know this well will choose to do it is if they’re forced to. And if there’s public pressure. Right. And they know that not doing it will cause an election or doing it because election. So we have to be thinking about that as we think about undoing and ending homelessness.


Mary Rowe [00:30:19] Krista, I want to go to you because you chose to make a film about this. And I think I’m assuming part of the reason you chose to make the film was that you felt something needed to change. That could end it could could. Can art can film be used to influence what Tim just suggested? Can political decisions be made influenced by this kind of a film that you’ve made in the stories that you’ve told?


Krista Loughton [00:30:46] Well, I think it takes a lot of people and it takes a lot of advocates like Tim and other organizations that push things. But I think it can be a piece of that and it’s an important piece of that. What I was feeling when I started making Us and Them was that there was a real disconnect between the average person, like the general population and what was actually really happening on the ground in shelters and the reality of street life. So I was trying to bridge that. So to tell a story that could make people understand. And the one thing I found while making this film, that it it’s not the reason why, but one of the common denominators we find among the particularly the chronically homeless population is very severe childhood trauma and abuse. And I don’t think people really get that. And and it’s really important that they do. I think I always quote Dr. Gabor Maté because he said it best there, abused children that get abused all over again by society. Now, that’s really what Us and Them shows. But I’m actually working on a follow up film to it right now because I want to cover the things that Tim is talking about, which are the policy that’s created this the history of the homeless crisis, where this is coming from and what we can do to solve it. And what we’re seeing there is very bold solutions happening in other countries around the world that we can be looking to for for guidance and to try to solve these things. But we need to get the general population on board as it is about elections and it’s about moments politicians will commitment.


Mary Rowe [00:32:29] The one thing about your film, I would hope and I hope many, many people will continue to watch it. We’re seeing lots of people in the crowd who are appreciating that they get a chance to watch it. And I think we should all now send it to our friends and get them all to watch it. Is it builds a set broader understanding and empathy for the stories of the people that experience homelessness. Stephanie, in terms of the way B.C. housing has operated, does it have. It hasn’t had mechanisms so that Eddie and Karen and people like them that have lived experience can actually inform what you’re doing, because as Tim suggested it, we so often policymakers are guilty of this. We dream up fancy policies that actually don’t work. What’s B.C. housing experience been with that?


Stephanie Allen [00:33:13] Yeah, we’ve we’ve been really moving in that direction. And I’m really pleased to say that, you know, we’ve we’ve heard that call very loud and clear from community. We started our relationship with the campers at Oppenheimer last August. We were invited to our meeting I attended with my colleagues. We listened to the ways that our processes were not working. We listened to the ways that certain things in our policy structures were not working. And it was not a comfortable conversation, but it was a real one. And I think systems and institutions and those of us who represent them have to build a little bit of a thicker skin to be able to hear those criticisms and to respond to them. And be listening because, you know, it’s it’s we talk about equity a lot. But what we don’t talk about is how we’re giving away power, how we’re giving away authority. What will we do? On one side of the equation is is, you know, kind of our focus. But we have to look at those of us that build wealth, power and influence in society and think about how we’re actually giving that away and and relinquishing it, because it’s this imbalance, I think, that really perpetuates some of the harm we see. And so that relationship that we started at, you know, with our colleagues in the Park Board and other members of different institutions, really was four months in progress. So we had established trust. We established a two way conversation. We expressed our limitations. They expressed their needs. We kept working to kind of broaden out the boundaries of our box. And what we have now is a completely new way of dealing with people so that when it came time for this public safety order to take people out of encampments during the pandemic, you need to hotels. We had that relationship. We actually saw the value of peers. So this was something that was asked repeatedly. And we engage a peer network to actually work with the people who were in those situations. They delivered the daily communications that we were prepared to say this is what’s happening today. We were offered homes, people being offered opportunities. Do you what do you need for storage? Do you have pets? Do you have a significant other? All of that kind of outreach went along with our peer up here network and the peer network work and Indigenous group of people who had experience of being homeless. And so they were empowered in that position to help with that communication and to share what was going on. It was very valuable. And we’ve learned now that we shouldn’t be doing this work any longer without peers being embedded. With people you know, who have the lived experience, who are saying, you know, this is what these systems have done and how they have not worked and really their ideas to the fore. Especially when that trust may not have been established yet. Like we had the opportunity to to respond to. So it is critical. I think moving forward that lived experience and communities at the table that it has to be that way. And in my other hats, at Hogan Alley Society. That’s something we constantly argue for, is that people of African descent and candidates no longer want policies imposed on our communities. We don’t want programs imposed on us. We want to be the drivers we know, you know what where the shoe pinches. Let us create the pair of shoes that we are deciding to walk in. And this is the call we hear from communities all the time. But what you see, I think, is the resistance systems don’t want to share that. We want it. We know what’s best. We want to come in and give our solutions. And we really have to to decolonize that process.


Tim Richter [00:36:50] All right. Can I just jump in and just really echo what Stephanie say that has really like that negotiation that she described? Exactly. Well, that that’s how the right to housing can manifest at a community level. So we’ve legislated the right to housing that we need to implement the right to housing and at that at at a local level, an institutional. And what’s describing is exactly that kind of process that we need to make sure happens in all of these kinds of situations that negotiated conversation and relationship with people that are.


Mary Rowe [00:37:28] Tim, do you see it a difference in the conversation now, you said. I saw it in other City Talks. We do all sorts of topics on this show, as you know. And do you see a difference now in terms of the willingness on the part of political decision makers? They’re obviously moving much more quickly. Do you think that there’s going to be a greater willingness to actually solve, take and take bold steps to solve this through the right to housing, for instance?


Tim Richter [00:37:55] Well, you know, there. What’s that? What’s that great quote? Never letting a good crisis go to waste. You know, in in a crisis like this, like we’re seeing with a pandemic, there is an opportunity. I think there’s a window of opportunity where I think the public is feeling some of the same pressures now that people experiencing homelessness may feel some of the same fears, some of the same worries, appreciating that health care that their health care is is tied to their their home. I think that, you know, the pandemic has opened a door now where a policy idea, a bold idea like ending homelessness is like making a significant investment in housing and the right to housing, you know, in January or December might have been looked on as a bit crazy or now well within well within the realm of what’s what’s possible. And I think it’s time for us to redefine and be very clear and loud about what’s possible. And we’ve proven through COVID that we can move rapidly and support people quickly and get them in a better living situation rapidly across the country than that that we should be doing that. Like, I just think there’s a new willingness. There is. We’ve proven we can do it. I think the public is coming alongside. We just need to now push through this window of opportunity and make sure that that ending homelessness is on the on the minds and lips of every federal and provincial competition.


Mary Rowe [00:39:32] You know, I want to go back to Eddie and Karen for a sec. In terms of, you know, do you have a do you feel hopeful through this pandemic? Do you think that? Do you think there’s the potential that more people will listen to the experience of people living in on the street and homeless? Karen, what do you think? Do you feel that the change you feel? I think people are going to be more interested in more hopeful.


Karen Montgrand [00:39:57] I just don’t really know how to feel. But I’m just sitting here thinking, like, if some did. Some of them could just get indoors right now or whenever before winter. I’m pretty sure they’re really happy. They’ll probably think of what they’re going to do to find a job or like go back to school or something like that instead of being outside. They probably do have families, too, like kids and. Stuff like that much. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to say, but those people out there. It is hard to talk to them, too. I can’t get any words out of them, I try to talk to them. But it’s not working. They won’t listen to me. Some of them some of them tried. But sometimes, you know, the best thing I can do is I just hope that pray to god that they are indoors before winter in a way. I’m pretty sure they’ll do something with their life. Then. I can’t tell them what to do.


Mary Rowe [00:41:07] No, but it gets them some support, some structure.


Karen Montgrand [00:41:10] Yeah.


Krista Loughton [00:41:11] Housing is critical.


Mary Rowe [00:41:13] Right? Right. Eddie?


Eddie Golko [00:41:17] I agree. You know. And also getting the family unit. In on and on it, you know, like we all have families and, you know, we’ve most homeless people have made mistakes. Somewhere along the line is trying to get, you know, your families back united and onboard with you. And we talk to them and try to unite. You know, families can help the government, but it all comes down to yourself, you know, which direction, which path you’re going to take.


Mary Rowe [00:42:05] You know, CUI, we always say we’re in the connective tissue business. We’re trying to connect people in Victoria with people in Edmonton, with people in Montreal, with people in Halifax who are all challenged by the same kinds of things in their cities. Maybe it’s homelessness. Maybe it’s flooding. Maybe it’s some economic development. All sorts of things. We’re in that connective tissue business visit. But as you suggest, Karen and Eddie both Echo and actually each of the panelists has spoken to this. It’s really about us feeling connected to one another. And do we have the mechanisms to support one another in our as we make our lives work and whether or not we’re going whether COVID sort of threw us all into not the same challenge. You know, people have said, well, we’re all in the same boat, but no, we’re all on the same storm, but with different boat. Some people don’t even have a boat. Is there is this connection? What do you say, Krista?


Krista Loughton [00:43:05] There needs to be enough boats. There needs to be enough affordable and appropriate boats.


Mary Rowe [00:43:10] And people who know how to steer the boats and.


Tim Richter [00:43:12] Yeah, Mary sorry, I don’t mean to drop it. I think this is a really important point. And this is a challenge to the guests on the webinar. You know, homelessness, that homelessness is the policy equivalent of a high school dance. Right. Everybody stand out along the wall looking at the feet, wondering who’s gonna make the first move. And this is why people like Mayor Helps is so important, because it takes often municipal leaders say enough is enough to drag the feds and the province onto the bench or to do something. Right. I mean, I think that we can’t leave this up to, you know, to to Eddie and Karen. It’s not it’s not their problem to fix. This is our problem to fix. And somebody has got to go first. And that’s, you know, the other important piece of this is the people on this call. I know it. You know, I know some of the names I’ve been watching through the attendees and I know some of the people on this call are in a position where they have power they can share. Right. What? Like what Stephanie says? You know, it’s it’s sharing. Sharing your power and using that privilege and influence to make sure that Eddie and Karen and folks like them have a voice. Right. And are involved in the process. But it really takes it, you know, that I can if you look at any city anywhere in the world, I guarantee you where there are those cities making progress in reducing homelessness. You have strong local leaders. I guarantee you that is the secret sauce almost. Right. And it’s it’s in where those local leaders, like Mayor Helps are able to drag other governments on the dance floor and get them to put their put their money and get them to put the resources and get them to make sure that, you know, Eddie and Karen are included in the conversation and are our drive are the drivers of their own lives. And then you get results.


Mary Rowe [00:45:02] That people like us, regular people, have to somehow support those local leaders to take that leadership. And we’re getting lots of comments in the chat about neighborhoods that try to stop affordable housing. And we know that there is tension in neighborhoods now. And I know that Victoria is experiencing this directly and there’s concern about whether we can peacefully actually create the changes we need. Stephanie, what’s your thinking on that around power and giving up power? As Tim suggested.


Stephanie Allen [00:45:29] Yeah, I mean, it’s one of my favorite obsessions, right? As a as a person of African descent and a woman and, you know, growing up Low-Income like this is this is the challenge of our of our era is looking at the fact that we’ve established our societies in such a way that holds power, wealth and control in very few hands. Those hands are pretty similar. And we’ve excluded other people, too, there with violent means. When you think of it, you know, when we don’t talk enough in Canada about the school to prison pipeline, about how marginalized children, low income children are pushed out of school for behaviors that, you know, are not violent and then end up high school dropouts. And what that means for their lives. Right. We don’t talk enough about the fact that our because our education system does not support all types of students, students of all backgrounds. That’s why kids feel isolated and alienated in school and that there’s no place for low income kids to, you know, have sports necessarily anymore. And all those things that maybe the government used to pay for, like we are got to interrogate those things as well. What we talk about homeless is we have to talk about white supremacy in Canada. We have to talk about, you know, mass incarceration. We have to talk about the disempowering of women and women’s voices in in in their communities and in, you know, spaces where violence. We have to really expand what we sometimes focus in so far on a. Problem or an issue without opening up and looking at all of its roots? There are a lot of really terrible roots in Canada to homelessness. And unfortunately, we’re not really driving home solutions in those areas. So, you know, when I think about, you know, when we did this work locally, having the three First Nations onsite in the decampment process every day to offer a territorial welcome, to offer words of wisdom and healing and what that meant to a significant number of the people that on that site who were Indigenous or other people who were looking for cultural connection and feel isolated. So, I mean, I think as we think about all of this, we’ve got to really start getting into some of those uncomfortable areas that we, you know, screwed around and think, you know, if we can just do this one thing, we’ll think that all of these other things are the drivers.


Mary Rowe [00:48:01] But somehow there’s a set. It seems to be a both. And Stephanie, because on the one hand, you’re saying we’ve got to dismantle white supremacy and big, big sister historic system, its systemic patterns. But at the same time, you’re saying you can actually do something at a local level in an innovative way and create a model that shows people this can be done. So. You just described the one that you’ve described. And on the chat, we have a woman named Pam. I don’t know Pam. Hi, Pam. Where ever you are. But she’s talking about a very local project where she is actually leading something, it sounds to me, from reading track where they’re actually creating units and doing just kind of getting on with it. And I think maybe we need to do both. Do we? The right to housing, obviously, is advocacy at the national and international level. To hear more about this week. But at the local level, you’re giving us examples of really good pilots that have worked. And I wonder if Eddie and Karen’s story through Christmas movie isn’t also a story of that. It showed something that actually worked. A pilot that works. So we have to do both.


Stephanie Allen [00:49:04] I agree. Yeah, absolutely. It’s. This is a complex web of a problem. And the solutions have to be smarter than those that not complex web and really get out again and all of it, because we we don’t have the time anymore to isolator one at a time. We have to do it all at once. And there’s a lot of people on this on this panel and on the in the audience as attendees have had some part of the tool box in their hand. And and others have another tool. And I think it’s about bringing those tools together. We have to acknowledge what protest does as well. I mean, I heard the mayor of Vancouver say once you’re not getting through with our system, then, you know, talk to the media or take to this to the streets. I mean, that’s a that’s a I don’t know if you meant it in the way that sometimes it shows up, but that’s really important. We actually do have to sometimes take to the streets. We do have to take to the media. We do have to put that kind of political pressure and talk to our neighbor next door and say, you know what, there’s a project coming into this community and I’m for it. And here’s why. Here’s why we’ve got to really support people getting housing in our neighborhood and why that really matters. Even though I have heard language that is, you know, to describe homeless people or people that have been unsheltered and abetted by the system, that is reminiscent of the worst Jim Crow alienating stereotype, racist, you know, horrible language. But for some reason, it gets a bit more of a pass when we’re talking about homelessness. And that is got to be something we don’t even tolerate.


Mary Rowe [00:50:41] Thanks for everybody who is participating on the chat and try and posting examples of of successes. I think this is part of what the Shift’s project, which they’re partnering with us here at the CUI. We’re very, very happy to be providing a Canadian home to the Shift as they work internationally, but for the Canadian peace. And they are needing to collect these success stories. So I think more and more, if you want to post them on the chat, if you know of projects that have gone forward, they’re really good pilots. That could be examples. That’s terrific. We’d love to see them any part. You can always contact us. You can always contact the ship online or CUI online, and we’ll pick them up there, too. Tim, we’ve only got a few minutes left. And so I want to just go to you in terms of looking at part of what Stephanie was talking about, this idea that we have to actually we’ve got you know, there’s this phrase Overton Window that people start talking about that, you know, basically when everything blows up, there’s an opportunity to come in and make some systemic change. What do you see as the priority from your point of view from the alliance and homelessness? Have you focused enough on that or are you mobilizing people around one or two key things?


Tim Richter [00:51:45] Well, we’ve we’ve launched a national campaign called Recovery for All. I think for us right now, we’re focused first. We’re seeing an opportunity with the government of Canada to make sure that we have. And remember, that’s where homelessness really started. That’s where federal policy. Changes in the mid 90s, if you know, layered on top of colonization. You know, we’re focused on the increase in building on the national housing strategy. Make sure that there’s enough housing and resources available to end homelessness out of the federal government. And what’s interesting is building on Stephanie’s point. So I think if we you know, if we force ourselves in this open window and there there is a we we we need to build this movement. Right. Like, the process of ending homelessness is going to be like relentless incrementalism, dealing with all of those issues that Stephanie pointed out. And we can’t be paralyzed by the scale of this thing. But if we if we move quickly and organize our movement and I think we can get big change at government, like in the last month, we launched Recovery for All right. So I’m on a call for investment from the federal government that would save 18 billion dollars. Create five hundred thousand jobs and create a fifty two billion dollar national housing strategy that could effectively end homelessness. And, you know, in less than in less than a month and a half, we’ve had fifteen thousand people sign up and over one hundred thousand letters sent to the.


Mary Rowe [00:53:20] Wow.


Tim Richter [00:53:21] Right. Right. I am I am absolutely convinced that if we you know, if the the million Canadians who have experienced homelessness and at two hundred thirty five thousand people who experience homelessness up here, all of the people that are working in the system, all of the people that are on this call, if we engage in the process as a movement, we can own the space. Right. We can begin to dom not dominate, but create that space where where the governments of all stripes feel that they must have housing policy that ends homelessness. That must deal with the issues that Stephanie so aptly outlined. But we’ve got to get started. Right. And, you know, as you say, the Overton Windows there. Let’s you know, we have a window of opportunity right now and we have to take it.


Mary Rowe [00:54:15] I saw you change your word from dominate this space that was very necessary to change that. But I hear the spirit of it is that let’s own this space. Let’s leave this space. Is that possible?


Tim Richter [00:54:27] Yeah. And I think, you know, we talk about, you know, the the NIMBY and the people that are having trouble with the encampments and things like that. But, you know, we’re challenging a really entrenched status quo. You know, you look at you look at how Black Lives Matter has taken has has raised an issue. It’s uncomfortable, right? It’s challenging. It’s painful. There’s conflict. But that’s necessary conflict. Right. And so we have to we have to have these uncomfortable conversations with people who don’t like that there’s homeless homelessness in the parks. And we want to do what we just have to be brave and step into those spaces.


Mary Rowe [00:55:12] OK, well, the last few minutes we’ve got I want to go to our brave team over here in Victoria who put this film together and shared their stories. And so as we as we go forward, Eddie and Karen, and you think about what the next several months are going to look like. Do you have something in your mind that you’re going to. What’s going to be your priority over the next several months as you continue to live with COVID and you watch what’s going on around you with your neighbors and things? Karen have you got something you want to say first and then Eddie, you can say something.


Karen Montgrand [00:55:44] No, I’ll pass.


Mary Rowe [00:55:46] You’ll pass. Eddie, what about you?


Eddie Golko [00:55:49] I’m trying to attached with family members and. You know, like, my family means a lot. I’ve got kids, grandkids, and I’m trying to open up a pathway, you know, to see them. And maybe they can learn by my mistakes.


Mary Rowe [00:56:19] You’re you’re creating new connective tissue between you and your kids.


Eddie Golko [00:56:24] Yeah, exactly, yeah.


Krista Loughton [00:56:26] Maybe it’s not so much your mistakes as the mistakes of a society that’s created this situation, right?


Mary Rowe [00:56:34] Yeah, we know we used that phrase. It takes a village to raise kids. And if the village isn’t functioning, it’s really hard to do it. I guess we’re all trying to build a better village.


Mary Rowe [00:56:45] You can argue.


Eddie Golko [00:56:46] Yeah.


Krista Loughton [00:56:48] We’ve excluded homeless people from our society. And they’ve created their own society for themselves. And some of the things that happen in that society are difficult for. The bigger, dominant society to look at, but it’s survival. But to create their own economies and because the welfare rates, the social assistance rates, the the the shelter allowance. Three hundred and seventy five dollars here. Like, when’s the last time you could rent an apartment in Victoria for three hundred seventy five dollars? You know, like it’s just it’s so absurd. So people are forced into drug dealing, prostitution, petty crime, all these things that the community resisters or the NIMBY’s are complaining about. What we’ve created this and we have to do it. You have to move out of it like Tim’s saying. Right. We need to step in and have those uncomfortable conversations. I want to go into the hotels in Victoria and screen Us and Them and bring both parties together and just see what happens. It could be an explosion. But. We’ve got to do it right.


Mary Rowe [00:58:04] Stephanie’s got a model for you. OK? She’s been doing she’s been trying to get engaged. She’s just been describing. I just want to thank everybody here for participating so candidly in this session and sharing with us their experience and their and their expertize and their aspirations about what we need to have happen in terms of difficult conversations. There are there are several that take place in us. And then, Krista, you made this film over, I guess, 15 years, eh.


Krista Loughton [00:58:34] Can, but I guess now it’s here now that I’m doing more. I just can’t stop.


Mary Rowe [00:58:39] And you I think this is part of what we what we need to understand is that this is a process. And as Stephanie suggested, in terms of dismantling colonialism, this is a process we’re engaged in. We have to be committed to it. Tim, we appreciate all your comments, your advocacy across the country. So really, could I just on behalf of the audience, thank all five of you, Karen and Eddie and Krista and Stephanie and Tim, for sharing with us your experience and your perspective on how do we really address homelessness and the crisis that is and how do we find sustainable solutions. And it’s lovely to have Eddie and Karen stories there as an example of how there are different paths and different ways to emerge from this. And we are carrying on with right to home for the rest of the week. We have another session tomorrow, which is on imagining different futures, which is, I think, what Karen and Eddie’s experience speak to and what Stephanie and Tim are calling for is different futures. How can we reimagine housing in a post pandemic world than we have five fabulous people coming from across the country with experience in Canada and overseas about that and particularly about the right to housing and whether that is the instrument to get us nationally to where we need to be in this conversation. So thanks to all our sponsors, of which there are many. And I will acknowledge them as we go through this week. But I want to just acknowledge them now, if I may, if I can find the list quickly. Do you know what? I can’t. So they just have to know. Yes, I can. I pulled it out. They are the Shift, the Aboriginal Housing Mortgage Association, the Architecture and Design Film Festival, the B.C. Nonprofit Housing Association, Big World Community Foundation and Big Wilberger, Canada Mortgage and Housing. They’ll be on with us tomorrow. The Canadian mines and homelessness that stand. We’ve been listening to Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, the Center for Equality, Rights and Accommodation. The city of Victoria, under the leadership of Mayor Helps the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada Maytree and the Urban Development Institute in Victoria. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for joining us for this second session. Important conversation to see you tomorrow. Thanks, everybody.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

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 events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk

12:02:34 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:02:55 From Angie Desmarais to All panelists: Hello from Port Colborne, Ontario
12:03:05 From Ashley Michell: Bin Honzu (Beautiful Morning), Indigenous Housing Support Worker. From Smithers B.C.
12:03:08 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:03:16 From Negin Minaei: Good afternoon
12:03:28 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:03:36 From Caroline Poole CUI Staff: Today’s panelists include:

Krista Loughton: https://twitter.com/KristaLoughton

Eddie Golko: https://www.usandthemthefilm.ca

Karen Montgrand: https://www.usandthemthefilm.ca

Tim Richter: https://twitter.com/timrichter

Stephanie Allen: https://twitter.com/BuiltJustice
12:03:44 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola: Good Evening from Johannesburg
12:04:03 From George Tchanturia: Hi from Tbilisi
12:04:15 From Joss Hannaford: Good Morning from Northern BC Fort St. John Thank you
12:04:38 From Pam Hadder: Good morning from Willow Place, Winnipeg – Pam Hadder, leadership team, Community Coordinator
12:04:41 From Andrew Wilson to All panelists: Hot and sunny on Vancouver Island
12:04:46 From André Darmanin: Helllo all from Pioneer Village Station in Vaughan and on my way back to watch the rest of the webinar .

Perfect timing for this webinar. During my run, I just saw a homeless camp set up in Alexandra Park (Bathurst/Dundas). First time seeing this. What are our leaders and public servants doing to overcome nervousness and lead with courage to solve the housing and homelessness crises?
12:04:49 From Nada Peters: Good Morning Everyone Nada from Prince George
12:05:20 From André Darmanin: Good morning Stephanie. Good to see you.
12:05:23 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists: Hello from York Region, Ontario. @R2HYorkRegion
12:05:54 From Geoff Bodnarek: Geoff from Burnaby, BC
12:06:23 From Ashley Michell: that is amazing. Thank you for sharing that film
12:06:25 From Kathy Suggitt: Good afternoon from Barrie, ON. The 2 films were excellent. Thank you for sharing those with us.
12:06:29 From Lisa Helps: Good morning everyone from Lekwungen lands, City of Victoria. Mayor Helps here. So proud of Krista, Eddy and Karen for joining us. Eddy and Karen, thanks for your courage! <3
12:06:48 From Amarpreet Guliani to All panelists: Good morning all from Regina SK
12:07:06 From Amarpreet Guliani: Good morning all from Regina SK
12:07:21 From Adriana Bernardino: Good afternoon from Toronto! How do I get the link to watch the movies? I signed up after July 24… Can I still get it?
12:07:34 From Callum Maguire: Good morning from Comox BC
12:07:36 From André Darmanin: and to add that nervousness to deal with racial and social equity related to housing.
12:07:53 From Breanne Bateman to All panelists: Krista – I loved your film. Eddie and Karen I wish you both health and healing you both seem like kind souls and good people. Thank you both for your time today.
12:07:53 From Abby S: Kirsta…thank you so much for this film…and thank you to Eddie and Karen…what remarkable stories and film. At a loss how to express my reaction to your film.
12:09:17 From Amarpreet Guliani: Watched both movies yesterday-a real eyeopener for me!
12:09:31 From Lisa Helps to All panelists: Yes Mary I’m here!:)
12:10:20 From Alexandra Flynn to All panelists: Good morning from Whistler, the territories of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations. Thank you so much to the panelists for being here.
12:10:37 From Caroline Poole CUI Staff to Adriana Bernardino and all panelists: Hi Adriana! You can register to watch the films here: https://canurb.org/right-to-home . If you experience any difficulties, please email communications@canurb.org
12:11:30 From michael phair: Michael Phair, Edmonton AB.
12:11:55 From Adriana Bernardino: Thanks Caroline! I’ll try.
12:11:57 From André Darmanin: Hey @michael.
12:12:22 From Mark Guslits: The beard is still working for me Tim.
12:12:46 From Tim Richter to Mark Guslits and all panelists: ha!
12:13:15 From Dina Graser: Yes I was noting the beard too 😉 Looks good Tim.
12:13:40 From André Darmanin: Hi @Dina. Nice to see you in here.
12:14:06 From Mark Guslits: Hi Dina
12:14:14 From Nicole Chaland to All panelists: Hello from Victoria! The anti-poor hate in Victoria has reached a state of frenzy and I’m quite concerned about the potential for violence. Could the panellists discuss ways to keep people safe from violence from housed people?
12:14:15 From Abby S: what is the incidence in Victoria?
12:14:25 From Abby S: (of Covid)
12:15:07 From André Darmanin: Great to hear Eddie and Karen’s lived experiences.
12:15:31 From Lisa Helps: Re: COVID in Victoria – we only get island-wide numbers. We have a very low case count right now on the island. Six or seven cases.
12:15:47 From Abby S: @lisa – thank you.
12:16:10 From Lisa Helps: In BC far more people have died from overdoses during the COVID period than from COVID.
12:18:50 From Nicole Chaland to All panelists: One of the myths that the anti-homeless movement retells is that there is housing available and all the people who are homeless refused housing. It would be helpful if BC Housing clarified that there is no housing for campers right now. Could BC housing issue a joint statement with Dr. Bonnie Henry clarifying that there is no housing and call for calm heads?
12:19:53 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:20:52 From Abby S: So true about overdose deaths. Covid shows that when there is a will things can happen quickly. Why the will is lacking with Overdoses is beyond comprehension. Although some of must stem from a culture of blame.
12:22:36 From Nicole Chaland: One of the myths that the anti-homeless movement retells is that there is housing available and all the people who are homeless refused housing. It would be helpful if BC Housing clarified that there is no housing for campers right now. Could BC housing issue a joint statement with Dr. Bonnie Henry clarifying that there is no housing and call for calm heads?
12:22:51 From Holly DeSimone: Thank you to the participants from BC for sharing their lived experience.
12:23:03 From Bruce Wills to All panelists: Krista, Karen & Eddie,
12:24:03 From Bruce Wills to All panelists: Thanks for bring open and brave enough to share your story in US & Them!
12:24:48 From Nicole Chaland: Hello from Victoria! The anti-poor hate in Victoria has reached a state of frenzy and I’m quite concerned about the potential for violence. Could the panellists discuss ways to keep people safe from violence from housed people?
12:25:45 From Daniella Fergusson: Great comments, Stephanie on the causes of homelessness and what the impacts of COVID have been on making a bad situation even worse.
12:25:46 From Kaitlin Schwan to All panelists: So glad to hear Stephanie speaking about the role of child welfare as a pipeline into homelessness for young folks – homelessness prevention will require system reform.
12:27:19 From Katherine Lordon to All panelists: Hello from Mississauga! Stephanie, you mentioned communication with individuals experiencing homelessness was a huge aspect of your success. I’m wondering if you can speak to ways you facilitated this communication? Especially considering the barriers you mentioned, i.e. no cell phone or data
12:28:29 From Ashley Grzybowski to All panelists: Super interesting to hear the emphasis supporting choice-making and providing options
12:28:33 From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:28:44 From Canadian Urban Institute: Thanks!
12:29:48 From Mark Guslits: Does anyone have any sense that the pandemic has actually brought many social issues to the fore, (including homelessness) and in fact created more awareness of social issues and the undemocratic nature of the pandemic. Not necessarily jumping up and solving the issues, but certainly more awareness – whether it be nursing home abuse, racism, and, yes, even housing issues.
12:30:40 From Julieta Perucca: Hi everyone, Julieta Perucca from The Shift here. Thank you so much to Eddie and Karen for sharing your experiences. I just wanted to acknowledge your efforts and energy in participating in this conversation in order to teach and inform us about the current reality you face. Thank you!

As Tim said, homelessness is a policy choice, but it is also a prima facie violation of the right to housing, and it requires urgent attention, particularly during a pandemic. If you’re interested, I wanted to share some resources on homelessness as a human right violation. Here is Leilani Farha’s report she wrote as UN Special Rapporteur, on homelessness as a human rights violation: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G15/294/52/PDF/G1529452.pdf?OpenElement

Here is The Shift’s Guidance Note for governments on how to address the issue of homelessness and encampments in a human rights compliant way during COVID-19: https://www.make-the-shift.org/protection-for-those-living-in-homelessness/
12:31:07 From Abby S: Echoing @Julieta Perucca
12:31:20 From Sian Lewis to All panelists: Supportive housing needs to grow as a model that recognizes the complexity of individual’s life experience (i.e. support for addictions and mental health and creating a direct line to services for those in supportive housing)
12:32:07 From Pam Hadder: Stephanie alluded to other ways of communicating information to the homeless as they would not have access to mainstream/technology etc. – there may also be illiteracy, cognitive impairments, etc. – would be valuable to hear more on how BC was able to reach out to homeless population
12:32:08 From Leticia Ferreira: C-19 has also had a huge impact on LGBTQI2S youth with increases in bullying, violence and lack of access within the housing system, especially for gender non-conforming and trans folks. Isolation is already part of the trauma LGBTQI2S youth experience which has also being increased by the pandemic. Not to mention, that family rejection is a key aspect of homelessness which is often forgotten.
12:33:19 From Abby S: That was very clear in the film,…the role of trauma in childhood.
12:34:26 From Geoff Bodnarek: No supportive or semi supportive housing in North/West Vancouver besides a shelters transitional housing program.
12:36:05 From Murray Lumley to All panelists: I watched Us and Them yesterday. It was very moving and educational. Thanks to Krista, Eddie, Karen, and all who made the film.
12:37:12 From Donna Mayer: The trauma-informed lens should be employed in every single social response. Trauma is the root cause of addiction, poverty, crime, homelessness, etc.
12:37:14 From Lou McBride: What is the name of the film and where can it be accessed?
12:38:49 From Irena Kohn: https://canurb.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=f47fe5ecd01cfe0eeeec18182&id=f1c2fd489b
12:39:30 From Mary W Rowe: Hi Adriana! You can register to watch the films here: https://canurb.org/right-to-home . If you experience any difficulties, please email communications@canurb.org
12:39:48 From Mary W Rowe to Lou McBride and all panelists: Hi Adriana! You can register to watch the films here: https://canurb.org/right-to-home . If you experience any difficulties, please email communications@canurb.org
12:40:28 From Lou McBride: Thank you
12:40:44 From David Crenna: Agree with Tim that we need to go for it and move fast!
12:41:04 From Geoff Bodnarek: Every municipality need to have different levels of housing. Without supportive housing in municipalities it forces people who are struggiling to live in unsafe conditions and areas.
12:43:04 From Geoff Bodnarek: Finding purpose.
12:43:43 From Christina Sisson: Should we be looking outside the box, literally, and incorporate more of an outdoor living experience which better suits those who need to feel a connection with the outdoors – atrium style living – more creative connections with indoor protection but connection with the outdoors? At this time in history, it would be great to capitalize on this opportunity to re-think – re-create – to make this world better for EVERYONE!
12:44:29 From Abby S: @Christina 👍🏻👍🏻
12:45:13 From David Crenna: Definitely need to think outside the notion that we are somehow going to build our way out of this, which will take years to happen…
12:45:31 From Elaine McMurray to All panelists: love idea of mixed us, outdoors with supports. need peer navigators to make this happen
12:45:40 From Abby S: sharing and ceding your power.
12:45:40 From Geoff Bodnarek: But the NIMBA’s stop some of the municipalities to use that power.
12:47:00 From David Crenna: That is the crux of the matter: the key is to empower the local leaders to act on this!
12:47:19 From Pam Hadder: Willow Place is not waiting for levels of government re: safe and affordable social housing – currently have accessed grant funds for housing coordinator, local property management is donating housing units – we want to demonstrate that other ways are possible, and hopefully province, city, etc. will come on board, other property managers etc. It is small scale, but we want to start, versus being the bystanders at the dance that Tim so aptly described.
12:47:27 From Abby S: But there is very real resistance…
12:48:19 From Pam Hadder: Multiple approaches needed for complex issue, removing barriers to access supports
12:48:19 From Kari Lesick: Thank you Stephanie!!
12:48:27 From Krystie Babalos to All panelists: 👏🏼
12:48:42 From Ashley Michell: amazing stephanie. powerful…
12:49:26 From Ashley Michell: ✊🏾
12:49:32 From Lisa Helps: Brilliant Stephanie!
12:49:37 From Abby S: But I feel like we are speaking to the converted here. How do we move beyond…?
12:49:56 From Carolyn Whitzman: Stephanie is right about the broader pathways to homelessness. and I know CAEH (Tim’s group) is looking at stemming the tide of new homelessness as well as finding homes for those who are homeless
12:50:20 From Marion Goertz: Any info on local housing projects in Calgary, Alberta?
12:50:29 From Ashley Michell: I would love to use the medicine wheel project that Krista used in the film for the clients that I work with.
12:50:41 From Beverly Allard to All panelists: And… we have to be open to various models of Indigenous governance and allow for traditional ways to influence and shape decision making
12:50:42 From David Crenna: Yes the issue is scaling up what works quickly!
12:51:04 From Nicole Chaland: Everyone, please join and amplify the www.recoveryforall.ca campaign . After you join the campaign, you can publicly endorse it and write to parliament. In BC, having the feds show up would be a game changer.
12:51:22 From Lou McBride: Someone sent me the link to the movie and I accidently lost it, could you resend it? thanks
12:51:33 From Angie Desmarais: Thank you Stephanie!
12:51:45 From Sheila Perry to All panelists: One of the best successes in Ottawa is the multifaith housing led by Suzanne Li, bringing faith leaders together, identify property, funds, partners etc.
12:51:57 From Yolande Dudoward to All panelists: https://canurb.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=f47fe5ecd01cfe0eeeec18182&id=f1c2fd489b
12:51:59 From Abby S: Hear hear Stephanie1
12:52:01 From Lisa Helps: @Lou here’s where you can find the movies https://canurb.org/right-to-home
12:52:21 From elvira Omarbagaeva to All panelists: Thank you Stephanie. so well said
12:52:32 From Caroline Poole CUI Staff to Lou McBride and all panelists: Hi Lou! You can register to watch the films here: https://canurb.org/right-to-home . If you experience any difficulties, please email communications@canurb.org
12:52:42 From Haseena Manek to All panelists: If you are looking to learn more about The Shift, check out our website: https://www.maketheshift.org/
12:53:01 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:53:02 From Tonya Surman: Do people know of projects addressing homelessness and hygiene? access to bathrooms and laundry? looking for solutions
12:53:10 From Lou McBride: Thanks to all
12:53:15 From Julieta Perucca: To learn more about The Shift or to contact us visit www.maketheshift.org
12:53:30 From Abby S: @icole just signed up
12:53:34 From Abby S: @Nicole
12:53:43 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:55:18 From Mark Guslits: This conversation has been excellent and much appreciated. I teach a course in “Ethical Architecture” at U of T focused on housing for low income individuals and families. I will certainly direct them over the summer to re-view these conversationa and the films referred to. Rarely do we get these conversations in such quantity and quality. Thanks CUI and thanks all who participated today.
12:56:09 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3hNch7p
12:56:21 From Sheila Perry to All panelists: great suggestions by all, Tim’s message is to make the best of the opportunity before us
12:56:35 From Bhavik Thakkar to All panelists: fantastic initiative and extremely relevant and pertinent discourse! thank you.
12:57:03 From Bhavik Thakkar: fantastic initiative and extremely relevant and pertinent discourse! thank you.
12:57:15 From Tim Richter: If people are interested in learning more about Recovery for All please visit https://www.recoveryforall.ca
12:57:37 From Geoff Bodnarek: Tiny housing inititives can create communities is thinking outside the box.
12:57:41 From Pam Hadder: Thank you Eddie and Karen for sharing your experience and thoughts. Thanks to the panel and participants – excellent discussion and info.
12:57:50 From André Darmanin: This was a great webinar. I missed some of the video so I didn’t get to see many of the recent comments.
12:58:08 From Laurel Davies Snyder: Thank you for this conversation and especially for including Eddie and Karen.
12:58:14 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:58:30 From Angie Desmarais: Thank you all!
12:58:37 From André Darmanin: Great comments from Tim and Stephanie regarding power, privilege and collaboration.
12:58:39 From Geoff Bodnarek: Some people don’t have the family support so it’s also about creating that support network in the community.
12:59:25 From Olusola Olufemi to All panelists: From my experience also working with homeless people in South Africa, reconnecting back with family is one of their priorities as well.
12:59:30 From Kari Lesick: Thank you, I needed to hear what Eddie and Karen had to share! They are so brave to show up to teach us
12:59:34 From Cherryl L to All panelists: Thank you all for the candid and insightful conversation. Thank you Eddie and Karen for sharing your stories. Really needed right now.
12:59:35 From Geoff Bodnarek: and if you are living in a motorhome, those people don’t qualify for the $375 for housing support.
12:59:36 From Erika Morton: Many thanks to Karen and Eddie for sharing your expertise with us!
12:59:45 From Joss Hannaford: Thank you so much!!!!
12:59:55 From Abby S: Thank you to everyone.
13:00:18 From Abby S: Thank you for bringing Eddie and Karen to this talk.
13:00:24 From Negin Minaei: Thank you everyone
13:00:25 From Geoff Bodnarek: Thank you!!
13:00:29 From Carolyn Whitzman: And well moderated, Mary!
13:00:36 From Lou McBride: Thanks to all, great webinar
13:00:38 From MARYAM MOMENI: Thank you all. wonderful discussion as usual.
13:00:39 From Kaitlin Schwan to All panelists: Thank you all so much to all of you. So honoured to hear from Eddie and Karen, so grateful to you.
13:00:41 From Julie Edney: Thank you to the US & Them team and panel organizers. As a professional working in the non-profit affordable housing development sector in Victoria (M’akola Development Services), I found the film and this conversation so valuable and energizing. Will definitely be sharing with my community. Thank you and be well!
13:00:43 From Ashley Michell: Mesi Chyo (thank you)
13:00:50 From David Crenna: Good job moderating, Mary!
13:00:51 From Erika Morton: Thank you to all the speakers. Appreciated hearing from Stephanie about the root causes of homelessness and also the need to do more upstream work!
13:00:56 From Bill Johnston to All panelists: Thanks to all of you. Powerful comments. Let’s unite, let’s led those with experience lead and let’s end homelessness asap.
13:01:07 From George Tchanturia: Thank you very much. All of you.
13:01:11 From Faryal Diwan: Thank you! This was a fantastic discussion
13:01:15 From Celia Chandler: great session everyone. Celia Chandler Iler Campbell Toronto
13:01:16 From Scott Carnall: we have to be careful of decolonization talk because unless European settlers leave there is no decolonization. Dr. Lindstrom speaks to this in-depth.
13:01:17 From Geoff Bodnarek: Is it the same link on zoom?
13:01:31 From Stephanie Allen (she/her) to All panelists: Great to see everyone
13:01:35 From Stephanie Allen (she/her) to All panelists: And the comments!
13:01:51 From Stephanie Allen (she/her): Great to see everyone’s comments thank you!
13:01:54 From Scott Carnall: thank you for the talk
13:01:57 From Tonya Surman: Great stuff