How can cities address the challenge of encampments?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. Consult people lived experiences to inform decisions that directly impact them
Tina Dawson, a 52-year-old woman experiencing homelessness for the first time says that encampments work, and they work well. It is vital that people experiencing homelessness are involved in decisions that impact their lives. Leilani Farha, global director of The Shift and the former UN special rapporteur for six years made it her priority to meet with people experiencing homelessness across the world. She says the most important conversations she’s had are with people living and experiencing homelessness.
2. “It’s been a story of displacement, of trauma, of people living in unstable conditions”
Tina Dawson started living at the Central Park in Victoria, British Columbia as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps shared that in March 2020, Victoria had between twenty five to thirty five tents in Central Park, but one month later, the number of tents increased to four hundred and sixty five. Jennifer Jewell currently resides in a shelter hotel in Toronto and says, “There are so many deaths here and there are so many people talking to me on a daily basis about the trauma they’re going through living in this shelter hotel.” It is critical that a “harm reduction, trauma informed, reconciliation approach” is taken when talking about homelessness, Donnie Rosa, the general manager of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says.
3. Learning from Finland’s experience
According to Juha Kaakinen, CEO of Y-Foundation and housing expert, in 2008, Finland renovated most of the shelters and hostels into supported housing so everybody who needed housing had access to a flat with their own rental contract. He says in Finland, cities are obliged to provide at least 25% of all new housing to be affordable social housing. And to do that, cities receive state financing for their infrastructure investments. In Finland, there are around 8,000-9,000 new affordable social housing projects every year. This process is instrumental in preventing people from becoming homeless.
4. A machine of systemic discrimination
“There’s a machine in place to keep homeless people homeless. How can you find a job and find a home when you have to protect your stuff all day?” asks Tina Dawson. Jennifer Jewell similarly shares her struggles finding a landlord. She says, “Even though I responsibly paid my rent for 30 years, we’ve yet to find a landlord that has said yes to me, even though the way the subsidies work is that money goes directly to them.” Dr. Andrew Boozary, primary care physician and member of the University Health Network echoes this and calls it a “machine of systemic discrimination,” where it has been about survival.
5. The importance of taking a human rights approach
According to Leilani Farha, “the way that most of us understand living in encampments as engaging human rights is as a deprivation of human rights, e.g., lack of access to a toilet, to showers, to water, to food, to a place to store your personal belongings, to privacy, to be able to make your own decisions about your own life. What we don’t think about with respect to encampments and how they engage human rights is that, in fact, encampments are a claim to human rights and a claim to the right to housing. So, when someone pitches a tent in a park, that is their claim, their expression of their human right to housing.”
Similarly, we have to think about universal access to housing in the same way that we think about access to universal health care, Dr. Andrew Boozary shares. “I find it to be a very strange ethic in our country that we are fine and celebrate ourselves or say anyone who needs an MRI or needs to stay for a week in the hospital, can. And I think that’s important. But that’s tens of thousands of dollars. But we have some aversion to people being able to have the human dignity and access to housing to actually be able to gain the health outcomes and well-being that they want.”
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 email@example.com with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:01:02] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, I’m really pleased to be welcoming you here to this city talk that we’re putting together with the support of the shift, whose focus is on a human rights approach to home and housing. This is a tough topic, encampments. And we’ve been watching across the country as once again challenges around urban life manifest in these kinds of informal kinds of settlements that appear and cause all sorts of challenge for different folks in different kinds of ways and people that are in the encampments, people that are living next to them all the different ways. I was suggesting in the soundcheck that the reason this is such an important topic for us at the Urban Institute is that it magnifies and amplifies some of the fundamental disconnections that we’ve got happening in Canadian cities and cities around the world. But here in Canada and some of this predates COVID, and these are conditions and challenges and disconnections that have been present in cities for a period of time. And now during Covid, they just become much more exacerbated as we know. So CUI is a national organisation. We’re in the connective tissue business. We’ve been focussing on what’s working, what’s not and what’s next through Covid. And as I suggested, really important to us to hear from people with direct experience of a different aspects of urban life. And we’re, as I said, national and people are coming in on this across the country and they operate on different ancestral lands, all of which are part of the reckoning that we’re doing as urbanists and as settlers to understand our relationship to the land that was actually historically attached to and continues to be the ancestral lands in our case of the Wendat and the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Chippewa and Haudenasaunee. And we’re covered by a couple of treaties in Toronto. But each of these folks are going to talk specifically about their experience and their coming to understand what the reality of truth and reconciliation looks like. And I think that this is a struggle for urbanists because we’ve had exclusionary urban practices for so long that just became part of how we all operated. And now we have to dismantle those things and try to figure out how do we go forward. And next, what is the next look like and can we build a return to not return to what was but actually create different kinds of opportunities that cities provide for people? Can they do that in a more inclusive and a more just way? So thanks for everybody that’s come on, we’d encourage you to come into the chat and first of all, tell us where you’re coming in from. That’s always interesting for us to see where people are listening from. And the situation is present in almost every city in Canada. It’s present in towns. It’s in small towns. It’s in some cases it’s in rural environments. So there are all sorts of different understandings of this, how we got to this and now what do we do? So to start off, we’re appreciative that we have people coming in, as I suggested, from not only different parts of the country, but different perspectives. And each person here is going to offer some of their own personal and their own visceral experience of this. What are they seeing? What was their experience in encampments? And then we’re going to talk a little bit about what we think some of the alternative solutions are heading forward, to move forward from. There is closed captioning, if you’d like to take advantage of that. I seem to have it on my screen, but I have no idea why I do. I think there’s a button you can press that allows you to use closed captioning if you prefer. People have different access to the Internet across the country. So we appreciate if people want to just come in and listen, that’s fine, too. And I’m going to go first to Tina, if I could. The names of everybody that’s on here and their affiliations are in the chat. So you can learn about that there. And Tina I could just start with you, just give us a couple of minutes on your particular perspective and experience on encampments and tell us also what city you’re in or what part of the country you’re in.
Tina Dawson [00:04:57] OK. Hi, I’m Tina Dawson. I’m from Victoria, B.C. I’m fifty two years old, has been my first experience being homeless. I was born and raised in Victoria. Covid hit. Unfortunate things happened. I ended up in Central Park. Well, we had a flood, a massive flood. Therefore things had to happen and happened fast. And thank God for everything that didn’t happen. We were placed up in a parking lot and it sounds terrible, but it worked. I was told by by law here that we would have two weeks maximum this would work. Well we were there four months and this was community inside run. We had minimal outside intervention. It went and it went well. The only reason that we were removed was because Tiny Town moved in to where we were at Central. This was commonly known to flood out, we were placed in spots where there was no way to get out, you were either going down with the mud or you were going to have a foot of water below. So this was pretty known. This knew this would happen. But what they were doing was taking the leaves that fell and putting them over the drains. So I don’t know. But if it wasn’t for the mayor, North Park residential housing and a lot of other people’s reasonings, why of moving us and helping us. But we were on hardscape. We put down pallets and wood. We were supplied with tents, new cots because everything was damaged or lost. I ended up in the position of being the the management managing the area. We had other people doing that now. We were doing that on our own. You give people pride in their own. That works very well. It worked, we had very little problems. I just, I’m as being a new homeless, I am gobsmacked at the way things are is out of sight, out of mind. And the machine that’s in place to keep people homeless. How on earth am I going to get out of this position where I’ve managed my entire life, raised three children now where I have number one, no address that I can use? Number two, the problem with damage deposit, I’m on disability among permanent disability. That’s hand-to-mouth. I was placed into supportive housing, which I’m finding out is going to be closing in March. Now, if COVID hadn’t happened, none of this would have happened, it would be the seven to seven. And again, I said, when there’s a machine in place to keep homeless people homeless, you try to find a job and finding a home when you have to protect your stuff all day. Now, again, where you live, how are you going to? My partner was working at the time, working a good job. He had to take time off and now he has no job because he did not was not able to get his sleep because it was very physically hard work. It just it was impossible for him to be safe at work and safe for other people when he was sleep deprived. So there’s a lot of things that need to happen, but they can happen.
Mary Rowe [00:09:00] So we’re going to get to solutions. I’m going to keep getting everybody to just sort of give us their perspective. But it’s sort of as you say, it cascades, right, when a problem leads to the problem that all of a sudden you don’t have an address. So how long were you in the encampment Tina?
Tina Dawson [00:09:16] We were at the RAP 940 Caledonia for four months. Prior to that I was at Central for six and then we went to the Arena, there for just over almost three months. Now, I am at the Howard Johnson on Gorge Road East.
Mary Rowe [00:09:42] And this is all been during Covid and you had. And it’s been interesting for me, too, to hear your comments about how you kind of self organised and you kind of found a way to kind of solve it. This is one of the interesting things about these informal settlements around the world. They exist, too, and they can be high functioning, actually. Right. But yeah, but the dilemma, as you say, is that it’s so transient. Then you get moved out, then you got to go to this and you got to get to that.
Tina Dawson [00:10:08] I was still at the encampment where I would like to be because, again, it was more home. If we could organise something like that where we are indoors. Needs to be more involvement from the living, the people that are experiencing.
Mary Rowe [00:10:27] As you say, you’ve got capacity to be able to figure it out and organise it as you would. Yeah. OK, let me know if I could. I’m going to go to the other part of the country. Andrew, I’m going to go to you next if I could. We’re going to go from Victoria now to Toronto. Andrew, can you give us your perspective on this and then I am going to swing back to the West? We’re just going to traverse the country. Go to you, Andrew.
Dr. Andrew Boozary [00:10:50] Appreciate it. Mary. I mean, I think again and thanks for Tina’s points, is just sort of writing down everything that has been said about this machine. You know, I think in terms of the system that has been in place and the systemic discrimination that has played out with respect to homelessness across the country is something that I think, again, Tina raising so powerfully is something that I think we’ve been grappling with obviously, this part of Toronto for a long time. I’d speak from my own vantage point as someone who is involved in the health system, as one of the co-leads in the Toronto region, response for the pandemic, as a primary care physician and someone who works at the University Health Network. And when I look back at where we were and I mean, it’s been hard because we really haven’t had the chance to reflect on what this last 18 months has meant. It has been about survival. And you look at what Tina and her partner and family community have had to do. That was the sense, especially when you go back to think how we were all feeling in March 2020. And there are times where I try to go back to channel that feeling and reflect in terms of just seeing how much disarray, the uncertainty that was there, the uncertainty that we still have around what this future is going to look like the pandemic. But also, again, as we’re seeing numbers and data and losses mount when it comes to the overdose crisis, what we’ve been seeing in terms of, you know, the cascade, Mary, that you spoke to, there’s a cascade effect that has been playing out for 18 months and some of it has been on the radar like never before, but too much of it has not been. And so when I look at my, again, experience of some of the work in shelters, seeing what’s been playing out, I think there’s been a lot of effort to try to make places safer in the backdrop of what Tina mentioned, the machine of systemic discrimination that has taken place where people who are surviving homelessness, not just experiencing it, have been shut out so violently. And we’ve tried I think there’s been efforts with the health system and other partners and community partners to try to do the work, which we did around testing and vaccine rollouts in shelters as early on as we could here in Toronto and other cities have had some excellent success as it’s rolled out relative to the vaccine piece, but there’s only so much that can be done when you look at the real chronic inequities that have been playing out. And I think Mary when we’re looking at this situation, it’s even hard now when thinking about a fourth wave. I mean, I went back to March to think about what that first wave was feeling like, but knowing that there’s still uncertainty for people who have done all they could to take care of each other, these last three waves building every sense of community. And now I think it’s really on us in terms of both the health system, society, public policy makers, how are we going to start to mobilize things that we know needed to take place, and especially around housing, affordable housing and supportive housing to take place at a pace we haven’t seen before. But I would just leave it with this, that I mean, there are things that we were told in the health care system could never be done or would take an incredible amount of time. But things happened at a pace to respond to the pandemic. And I hope that that same sense of urgency continues across every level of government as we know how dire the situation is for people.
Mary Rowe [00:14:27] I mean, it’s this notion that things have become visible, I mean, Tina, you said we were out of sight or things are out of sight. And Andrew’s saying, well, actually, we’ve known about this stuff forever. So for at least for a number of years, it’s interesting whether encampments may be the visible thing that shocks people into realizing, oh, gee, maybe maybe it will make the problem visible enough. I’m interested to hear from Mayor Helps. Can we go to you now Mayor Helps and your perspective. I am appreciative here that we have people here in very different roles. So Lisa Helps as a mayor. Let’s hear your perspective, if we could.
Mayor Lisa Helps [00:15:02] Sure, well, just want to thank Tina for saying yes when I asked her to join, because really she’s an amazing gal and has had some really transformational effect on people’s lives here in Victoria. So just to give you some of the shock that everyone’s talking about from our perspective before. It’s March 18, 2020, approximately pre-COVID hitting here, we had about twenty four, our staff are very percise, between twenty five and thirty five tents in parks on a regular basis because there were indoor shelters and people were couch surfing and shelter capacity was high or people were staying with relatives. Fast forward and this is a shocking statistic. Fast forward to April 24th, 2020 and the outdoor structure count had swelled to four hundred and sixty five just like that in a month because people were put out of shelters, they were put out of relatives homes or whatever, wherever they were coming from, they were they were outside in the middle of a pandemic at the end of winter. And so we mobilized really quickly. I’m a bit pushy as people who know me will know. And I just gathered everyone together and I want to clock every day health, housing, anyone who had anything to do with this provincial staff. Every day at one o’clock, I said, What have you done in the last 24 hours and what are you going to do in the next twenty four hours? And we mobilized again. The province deserves a lot of credit. And by the end of May, about 400 people had moved inside to various locations. The arena, Tina mentioned motels and so on. But then by October we were up to another four hundred people because more people lost their homes. And so then from October until the end of this May, we worked and Tina was included in this with people to find adequate indoor sheltering spaces. And so really for us in Victoria, in addition to supporting small business and making sure the vaccinations were happening, really it’s been a story of displacement, of trauma, of people living in really unstable conditions. And then, as Tina says, not knowing what’s going to happen next. And we’ve done our very best given the tools and resources that we have as local government. And those those daily meetings turned into weekly meetings. And every Friday at 10, I’d say, what have you done for the last week? What are you doing for the next week until everybody was moved from outside to inside? But what we learnt along the way and I’ve asked Galla from my office, she’ll send the link and I’ll put it in the chat. We commissioned a report by a brilliant woman named Nicole Chaland, and she went and spent time with people living in parks and ask them what’s wrong, what’s not working. So even though in Victoria we did a pretty good job moving people inside into more safe circumstances, there’s a lot of work still to do to improve the homeless serving system so that it puts people at the centre so that it involves people in the decisions that they need to make, just like Tina said. And Tina staying at a motel where there isn’t a peer support programme or a peer led programme, but at another one, the Travelodge there is and it’s amazing. It’s they’ve got a whole group of people who are paid to curate their own experience. And so we’ve applied to funding at the province to get those kinds of programmes set up, peer led, peer supported in all of the temporary housing sites. So I’ll leave it there. There’s a lot more to say, but I’m really grateful, Mary, for you to be in this conversation.
Mary Rowe [00:18:24] Lisa, it kind of begs the question, though, which is both Andrew and Tina were hinting at, which is does it take a crisis like this for municipal government to move swiftly? I mean, you went to daily meetings, I guess, because you had to right?. But are there are there impediments to this kind of rapid response? You know, the trivial example that’s offered is that advocates for bike lanes spent years trying to get bike lanes. We’re told it would take forever and forever. And then suddenly we have bike lanes. And that’s criticised as a kind of a trivial example because it doesn’t affect that many people’s lives. But does it take something like this for you to be able to get the focus and the attention of your colleagues to actually solve it?
Mayor Lisa Helps [00:19:02] No, it doesn’t take this for municipal governments. Municipal governments have been working around the clock on housing and homelessness. We’ve had a community plan to end homelessness. We are mobilized. And we can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve had about this in the last six and a half years. What it takes is that visible presence for senior levels of government to think, oh, my goodness, we better invest some money here. If we had all the money in the world as local governments, we could get people housed within the next three to five years. I know that sounds like a long time, but give us all the resources and we can and we can get to functional zero, which is now where we’re mobilizing. But I think what it did is, again, whatever. There’s a lot to say about it. The province couldn’t get away with leaving people outside in tents. Yeah, they can they can get they can not mean in our province or provincial government is very awesome. And they can kind of get away with having people couchsurfing. They can get away with leaving people with relatives. But when all of those people end up on boulevards, as Tina says, it’s impossible to ignore. And so our provincial government has been spending a lot of money over the years on housing. BC NDP, they’re doing a great job. But this really did galvanise everybody in a way that hadn’t happened before. And the good thing is here we haven’t stopped. We’re not slowing down. We know we’ve got very high vaccination rates. Lots of people like the pandemic is, there probably will be a fourth wave. But but now the mobilization around housing is not slowing down. So that’s a good thing.
Mary Rowe [00:20:29] Yeah, I mean, I hear you on this. I mean, there’s still so much uncertainty, but I feel like it’s incumbent on those of us working in urban life that no more excuses, right? That this is we’ve had a reckoning here, a global reckoning. And if we don’t come out of this making changes, systemic changes, what the hell’s wrong with us? Right. OK, I’m going to go to you, Juha and you study these things. Juha is coming into us from Finland, giving us a bit of a perspective based on his analysis and his work around the world. So over to you. You are in a different jurisdiction. Shed some light on this for us, can you?.
Juha Kaakinen [00:21:07] Thank you. I have always thought that there are a lot of similarities between Canada and Finland, but this seems to be an issue where we also have great differences, because I really can’t recall that we have had any homeless encampments in this century. When I started to work with homelessness in the 1980s, there were in Helsinki and around here living in the metropolitan area. There were some places where homeless people used to gather that you could call encampments. But what’s significant was at the same time, we had a lot of shelters and hostels, a lot of shelter and hostel beds. Shelters were not the solution to people sleeping around. And what has really changed, because our policy is based on the idea that housing is a basic social right. In 2008 we started a national programme and policy based on housing first, which meant it also took the most of the rest of shelters and hostels renovated into supported housing, where everybody has their own flat with their own rental contract, and they can have a support also if they need it. And it’s also I think that’s important to understand that the importance of the lived or living, living experience. In Finland, we already had in 1987 an NGO formed by homeless people themselves. And it has been a very important organ in advocating the use of the homeless people. And the message from homeless people living experiencing homelessness has always been that it has to be a permanent housing, safe place, not a shelter or a hostel. And so since 2008, our policy has been based on this principle that providing permanent housing and rental contract and support if that’s needed. And I think that this is the only way you can find a solution to the homelessness. In Finland, it has been a national policy and it has been a partnership between the state, the government, local authorities, cities and NGOs working at the national and local level, but of course in practice the greatest responsibility is on the city’s part. But of course, the state can provide the legal framework and also financing that’s needed. But the cities are the active actors and we have homeless people represented in international programmes, in the steering groups, and they are taking part in planning the services in the cities. And I think that it’s a really proved out to be a very pragmatic and successful way to work. Maybe that’s all at this point.
Mary Rowe [00:24:14] It’s interesting you have a model you’re talking about, the tenant, the person moving into the unit, sounds like they have a lot of, they’re empowered by this. They have a lot of choice right? I mean, this is I think part of what I was hearing from Tina was. But wait a sec. I want to have some I want to have some agency, some engagement here. And and sometimes an informal settlement allows them that. Where is the big cranking system that is full of bureaucratic problems may not. Jennifer, can we hear from you now?
Jennifer Jewell [00:24:50] Yes, absolutely. So I am a 51 year old disabled woman who has been experiencing homelessness, I lost my housing eighteen months ago. I lived in a park for four months and have been trying to survive in one of the shelter hotels in the city of Toronto for the last eight months. And I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there. The city’s narrative that it’s unsafe to live in parks and that it’s much safer to live in here right now. I have a friend sleeping in a wheelchair because two nights ago he fell off his bed in his sleep. His head got wedged under a thing and he lay there for 12 hours before they finally found him. And he’s in my room so I can make sure that he stays OK. Spaces aren’t safe. We also do not have peer support programme here for people who O.D. and people that are dying here every single week. They are only starting to gear up in a problem like that. And I think one of the communities that is almost always left out of talking about homelessness and poverty and housing are disabled people. I was on the waiting list for wheelchair accessible housing for 15 years because if somebody dies or moves to a hospital or longterm care or they build it, and for as much as the city gets claiming there’s no money to give us housing, it is costing them six thousand six hundred dollars a month per person per hotel. So that’s forty two thousand dollars, which is three years of rent. And, you know, they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with the police and violently evicting people from parks. For me, I was safe living out there, both from other residents of the park, close to homes, people that lived around us. We had so much kindness and support in the last 18 months. It was the only part of my existence that wasn’t just trauma. It was the only place where I was actually able to heal, to survive being homeless. And for a lot of this, a lot of us, it simply comes down to not being able to afford a place to live. Many people are already aware of this, but for ODSP, which is Ontario Disability, the maximum rent allowance is four hundred ninety seven dollars. Twenty years ago, it was four hundred and sixty dollars, but that is all it’s gone up in that time. The city of Toronto is opening up rent subsidies to us, but you have to be chronically homeless to be eligible. And their definition of chronically homeless is six months of living in the shelter system or outside. And I have a friend here who had a rent subsidy, but his housing workers told them that he had to leave because it was unsafe housing. And then he found out that the subsidy was affordable. So he’s here for six months just to reapply for that. There was no need for him to be homeless. There’s no need for many of us to be homeless. In the city of Toronto is not doing anything to change the situation here. Like I said, there are so many deaths here and there are so many people, people talk to me on a daily basis about the trauma they’re going through. And I have a therapist at my doctor’s office, not the trauma of being homeless and what I’ve gone through, but specifically just from living here in this shelter hotel.
Mary Rowe [00:28:10] Jennifer, are you saying you felt safer in the park?
Jennifer Jewell [00:28:13] Yes. Yes. And I am immune compromised. So even without COVID, I could not go into shelther settings. I have really great medical care. And I spoke to my doctor before going to the park. She said it was the safest available option, that it was safer for me living outside in a park than it was in the shelters.
Mary Rowe [00:28:36] You know, there’s this term and urban planning around desire paths, which I’m sort of in love with, which is when people don’t go the way that the planners think they should go and they decide that they’re going to make their path somewhere else. And I keep wondering whether encampments are telling us something about how people want to live and that because Tina described it too, you can self organize, you have some autonomy, you have some flexibility, all those things. But on the other side, I know there’s anxiety that people in municipal government have about safety and other things. So Donnie, if I can call on you next and I’ll go to you Leilani. Go ahead, Jennifer. Yeah. Want to add in?
Jennifer Jewell [00:29:17] Toronto has been saying that the fire safety is their main reason for moving us out. So I’m disabled. When I first came here, they put me on the 15th floor and I booked an appointment with medical staff. The second day I was here, I told them if there was a fire, I’d be left behind. And when there was a fire, they left me behind and they left behind any of the other people in the building, too disabled to use the stairs. They still refused to move me to lower floor. For many of these places are not wheelchair accessible. They don’t have accessible facilities. They don’t have staff trained in-home care.
Mary Rowe [00:29:55] I mean, the deficiencies of the system are just so glaring when you’re there in the middle of it. Yeah, I hear you. Yeah. Well, this is what I’m querying. I mean, I’m also hearing, though, you said quite clearly that you’ve been on a waiting list for way too long for a space that would have been accessible to you. So there’s obviously a supply question, too. OK, well, these trade offs are the thing I’m struggling with. We’re really going to try to see if we can talk about what do we do with encampments? What do encampments tell us, I guess. Donnie, can I come to you next?
Donnie Rosa [00:30:23] Sure. Thanks very much. My name is Donnie Rosa, my pronouns are they/she. And I’m joining you from the unceded ancestral territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Selilwitulh people. I’m the general manager of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. And the Park Board is an independently elected body, the only kind of its kind in Canada. And so they have jurisdiction over Parkland. So for us to, for me to come on this call, I have no homelessness experience in terms of formal experience in housing. I do have lived experience. I have lived experience working in a decampment, at the decampment of Strathcona Park. I have a community development background, really, and I think it served me well in approaching the Strathcona encampment. I’ve been with the park board for ten months now. So when I joined there was Strathcona Park was already an encampment and had been reached its peak of five hundred tents or so, and I had joined at about day 140. This encampment lasted three hundred and forty seven days. I know we’re going to get into some other things later, but essentially it was critical to my board for them to delegate authority to me to actually move forward with this. It was critical for them to see that I took a harm reduction, trauma informed, reconciliation approach. And honestly, I was learning it as I was going. And to Emily and Drew, I’m still learning as I go. We still have an encampment happening and we have folks living hard all over Vancouver. The most important thing to me was to make sure that we were working with the camp leadership and the folks at the camp to ensure their safety and also then to have a coordinated approach with the province, with the city and with the park board. But it had to be with the local community and it had to be with the community of residents living at the camp. And again, I was learning as I went, but working with folks, setting up peer programmes to manage, you know the warming tent, to manage the washrooms, to make sure people were safe, to support their conversations and their engagement with the housing folks. The province deserves a lot of credit in that they stepped up and we worked very closely together to try to bring folks indoors the best possible. We know we had over two hundred and eighty folks during that time, at the end, in a short period who were brought indoors. As far as the condition of housing and the condition of stuff, that’s way out of my bailiwick. So my focus really is to bring those partners to the table, but also to approach this in the most caring and humane way. And in the end, when we had a deadline to work toward, we worked with people and we didn’t just say, OK, well, this is the date we worked with people toward their individual goals. Not all of them were met, but many of them were that were met. And we didn’t just, you know, we just didn’t pull the plug and we tried to take that humane approach to it. It’s not perfect and there’s lots of work to do still.
Mary Rowe [00:34:14] Donnie, I see people in your role as a steward, like you are stewards of a public asset for the park, just like traffic people are stewards of streets. These are public assets or librarians are stewards of libraries. Do you see any role in parks for people who feel like they don’t have other housing choices and elect to camp?
Donnie Rosa [00:34:45] Our bylaw allows people to camp overnight when there are no indoor spaces available. The trick to it is or the crux of it is, is that during the day you have to pack up, which is pretty challenging for people. And I hear that and I know that. And I’m sort of stuck in the middle of that. Our board wanted to make sure that people weren’t just moved from park to park to park. And that’s why the encampment stayed there as long as it did. Because we connected with the province. We connected with the city. We drafted a MOU that made sure that all three of us were at the table working collaboratively. And it wasn’t until then, really, that that we saw some success. So is camping part of the housing continuum? That’s for the the housing folks to address for sure.
Mary Rowe [00:35:43] Well, we’ve got a few of them on the call here, so let’s ask them. Leilani, I’m going to go to you, please to give your perspective and then we’re going to have sort of a general conversation, I guess, about what we think the alternatives are in terms of addressing encampments, what should happen next. Just want to once again plug the chat. As usual, city talkers are devoted chat users and they are posting all sorts of fascinating things there. We always connect the chat. We post it. So just heads up. The old story doesn’t stay in Vegas. It actually goes up on the website because you all offer such important smart things. So I encourage people to go into the chat, respond to each other as you’re doing, and make connections it’s terrific and we benefit so much from doing that. Leilani, can I get your perspective, please, from the ship?
Leilani Farha [00:36:26] Sure. Thanks, Mary. Thanks to all my co panellists, but especially Tina and Jennifer for telling us a little bit. And all we’ve seen is just a teeny little bit of your realities. But it’s really helpful. It’s always helpful to me and to me it’s always the most important conversations. I end up having people living and experiencing homelessness. My vantage on all of this is global because I was the UN special rapporteur for six years and I made it a priority and an opportunity to meet with people living in homelessness across the world. Every country and every city that I visited. That was my priority. And what I learnt was, of course, this is a global phenomenon sadly. What I also learnt, sadly, is that no matter the riches or wealth of a city or a nation, that actually doesn’t indicate whether there will or will not be homelessness. Quite the contrary, actually. Some of the richer places, the places with the most wealth, you end up seeing the most homelessness. California is a good example. Fifth largest GDP in the world and a huge housing and homelessness crisis there. What I also learnt over time is that the experiences of Jennifer and Tina, for example, and of living in encampments, really engages human rights. And it engages it in two ways. One way that most of us think about and in one way that most of us don’t. So the way that most of us understand living in encampments as engaging human rights is as a deprivation of human rights. Right. I mean, lack of access to a toilet, to showers, to water, to food, to a place to store your personal belongings, to privacy, to be able to make your own decisions about your own life. Right. All of that, we understand is rights deprivations. What we don’t think about with respect to encampments and how they engage human rights is that, in fact, encampments are a claim to human rights and a claim to the right to housing. And that once you understand that there’s a real richness there and it actually has to alter our understanding of encampment. So when someone pitches a tent in a park, that is their claim. That is their expression of their human right to housing. And so once we understand that, we might ask, well, so what? Like what’s the value of human rights and all of this big deal? I think, first of all, I mean, I’m just like a I don’t know, I like logic. You know, a human rights issue should have a human rights response. That seems logical to me. But I also think that human rights really change the way we view and understand people living in homelessness and homelessness as an issue and how to solve that. Once you understand that people living in homelessness are rights holders, that means they’re not just recipients of charity at best and they’re not criminals or encroachers or trespassers at worst, they’re rights holders. And that means something. And what it means in particular is it engages accountability. So under a human rights framework, it’s really clear who is accountable to whom. That’s one of the things I love about human rights. Governments sign and ratify international human rights law and they make themselves accountable to people. So governments are accountable to people. And it’s anyone exercising government authority and Donnie knows that well and said that in their comments. Right. So it’s anyone exercising government authority. And what I like about human rights is it’s really practical. Hopefully one of my colleagues will put in the chat a protocol. So Dr. Kaitlynn Schwan and I co-authored a protocol on how to do encampments from a human rights point of view when you’re a government official, how should you engage with the people living in encampments? And it’s really practical. A lot of governments feel like, oh, God, human rights, accountability, thorn in the side, obligations feels heavy. You know, it sounds expensive, but in fact, a human rights approach is really practical. It says things like, you have to listen to Tina and Jennifer. You have to involve them in decisions that affect their lives. It talks about ensuring encampments are safe or as safe as possible, whether that’s through a vaccine programme, whether that’s through providing water and sanitation, whether that’s ensuring that the people in the encampment have the resources to organize themselves so that they can have an anti-oppression mandate etcetera. So I’ll just stop there.
Mary Rowe [00:41:27] Jennifer put her camera on, which makes me think she wants to say something. Do you want to comment something on that?
Jennifer Jewell [00:41:34] No, thank you.
Mary Rowe [00:41:36] No, it’s OK. I’m wanting to think about what Mayor Help said was a city’s need more money. Municipalities need more money. And I think one of the challenges that you’re suggesting about a human rights approach is its housing continues to be sort of a hot potato in Canadian life, where the provincial government and the federal government and the municipal government all kind of have a little role there. And who do we actually hold accountable? Lisa, what would you do? You’re saying put the resources in the hands of municipalities and then get municipalities to affirm the human rights approach to housing and to encampments and everything else? Is that the solution?
Mayor Lisa Helps [00:42:16] Well, I don’t know that there’s any simple solution, but I do know I mean, I don’t think municipalities can be left to their own devices and every political council or every council has its own flavour. But I think if for municipalities like Victoria that are willing and others across the country give us a whole load of money, hold us accountable for how many units we need to build by when accounting for escalating construction costs and so on, give us the money to give to peer led organizations because we can build all the housing we want. But if people don’t feel like it’s their home, if they don’t feel that sense of community and belonging that they felt in an encampment, that we can build all the housing we want and it’s not going to work. Yes, I think for willing local governments and sense, we are doing that a little bit with Victoria’s regional housing first programme. But there aren’t the kinds of, the report that I posted in the chat, we’re going to implement these recommendations and transform the housing system here. So it is person centred. So we do take a human rights approach, but we do need funding from senior levels and we are getting it.
Mary Rowe [00:43:16] But I think what’s interesting and I’m interested whether Andrew would comment on this, the dilemma is you’re small, Victoria is eighty thousand people and you’ve been able to wrap your arms around this. I’m wondering if in some of the big larger centres, is there an impediment to the kind of reform we need? Andrew are you experiencing that? I mean, you are in UHN, one of the largest health systems in the world, probably. Is part of it that it’s too big?
Dr. Andrew Boozary [00:43:45] No, I don’t think so, I mean, I guess, you know, obviously in terms of where, you know, Mayor Helps’ vantage point from Victoria, I mean, I think in terms of the question, is it too big? Is this too insurmountable? No, I mean, I agree. I think we need every level of government to come together to solve this challenge. I think it’s hard for me, as you mentioned, Mary being at University Health Network, being in the health system and continuing to talk about universal health care when people are denied the basic human rights. There’s no way we can talk about universal health care, universal access when tens of thousands of people do not have access to housing. And this has to start to upend the narrative of, yes, we talked to the human rights approach and it’s incredibly powerful and important on this in terms of the commitments that have been made. But as well as from a public health perspective, that is incredibly damaging. It is impossible to be talking about universal health care in light of this. And again, I think as the the points made from Tina and Jennifer about how visible this is, how much suffering and hurt there has been needs to be part of this narrative of we cannot rest on any laurels about talking about universal health care system. I mean, I find it to be a very strange ethic in our country that we are fine and celebrate ourselves or say anyone who needs an MRI or needs to stay for a week in the hospital can. And I think that’s important. But that’s tens of thousands of dollars. But we have some aversion to people being able to have the human dignity and access to housing to actually be able to gain the health outcomes and well-being that they want. So I think that’s the piece from a health care perspective. Yes. You know, this is large. Yes, it’s a big city in Toronto, but we’re not alone in what we’ve been facing in other cities of equal size or larger, have been able to do a different job of partnering and ensuring that we are going to need all levels of government to address this as a real crisis, as I think so many have spoken to and so many in the room.
Mary Rowe [00:45:46] I mean, the advantage that local leaders have is that you’re looking at the crisis right on your doorstep and the other governments are further away. And Jennifer, you ran a bunch of numbers. You’ve got the numbers down. Forty two hundred this and two thousand that. So you’ve done an analysis of what the costs are. So the system seems to put you into a solution that’s not suitable for you, but also costs more money, right?
Jennifer Jewell [00:46:10] Yeah. Like you said, per person per hotel shelter in the city of Toronto is six thousand six hundred a month that pays for the space, the food, wrap-around supports, although there are not a lot of that, fees for the medical staff, the security, the support workers. And for those of us who are in OW or ODSP, we are homeless. We do not receive the rent portion of our cheque. There’s no way for us to save enough money to pay. And they are spending so much money everywhere. But how is, the city of Toronto has created what we refer to as their action plan to have 10,000 affordable units built by twenty thousand and thirty. And every single time that the city of Toronto mentions building housing, they refer to it, they use the word adequate and adequate housing. It’s not safe. It’s not wheelchair accessible, does not have the wraparound supports that people need. Right. And it’s not that complicated. For a lot of us, it just comes down to we can’t afford rent. Me personally because I have been homeless for over six months. I qualify for a rent subsidy on top of disability and even though I responsibly pay my rent for 30 years. But we’ve yet to find a landlord that said yes to me, even though the way the subsidies work is that money goes direct to them. There are two housing workers here, and nobody’s getting out and actually working to change public perception of what’s actually going on in these spaces versus what the city of Toronto says is going on. Like I am enlisted as refusing housing three times. None of those places were wheelchair accessible.
Mary Rowe [00:48:00] You had a good reason to refuse. Yes. But as you say, the statistics won’t show that. And as you’re saying, we’ve got to try to put a human face on this and for people to hear the actual stories. Tina, you started us on that path in terms of your experience where suddenly you found yourself in an encampment. But it also sounded to me like that initial experience in the encampment was empowering for you. You kind of got some stuff happening. Right.
Tina Dawson [00:48:25] Again, about costs. The arena per month cost two hundred and eighty thousand dollars for the rent and the insurance. It was a drop in the bucket at the encampment. Now, when I’ve been placed over into the hotel, the doctors that are monitoring there, I have never been more sick than when I have moved into this hotel. I have had staphylococcus and cellulitis. It’s infested with mice. Moved into the room there were needles under the register. They were not cleaned. The floors have not been cleaned.
Mary Rowe [00:49:06] I mean, if anything we’ve learnt during COVID it’s that congregate living in a whole bunch of different circumstances puts people at risk, right?
Tina Dawson [00:49:13] That’s right. I was much safer, much healthier in the encampment. And again, when did you lose taking care of each other, families, taking care of families? When did that stop? And, you know, I’m blessed with having people that are around me to become my family. I’m a product of the ministry. I was raised in a permanent ward. I do not have a family to fall back on. My children, who, God thank they’re doing, my two daughters are doing fine now. And it’s just a matter of just as I said, I wish I could just close my eyes to even what was to be better. And in some ways, yes, I’m inside. But that’s it.
Mary Rowe [00:50:08] I mean, the thing is, how do we extract the good? Each circumstance seems to have a couple of positives you want to hang on to. But then some other negatives right?
Tina Dawson [00:50:17] I think it’s just like anybody else who’s living where they live should have a say in what is done and I would like to have seen at least me moving into somewhere that was clean.
Mary Rowe [00:50:29] Yeah, well, where you had someone to go to say this is not clean. You did a better job keeping your encampment clean.
Tina Dawson [00:50:36] If I did, it would be like too bad, out the door.
Mary Rowe [00:50:38] Yeah. So I’m wondering if in the last couple of minutes we’ve got about ten minutes left and again the chat is full of all sorts of ideas and people are making appointments to see each other and problem solve. And I appreciate how much people are self organizing even in the chat. Juha, over to you. You know, if we’re talking about a continuum approach, every person on this call has talked about a rights approach fundamentally and making sure that you do the math since Jennifer and Tina had to do. They could do the math really clearly and say, look, it’s much more cost effective to do it this way. Lisa is saying give resources to municipalities so they can actually deploy them in a most effective way because they can see on the ground what’s going on. Donnie was part of a process where she stewarded in collaboration with the stakeholders, a kind of collective solution where everybody had some kind of a say. And then Andrew was identifying. There’s some fundamental inadequacies in terms of how we actually provide universal anything in this country. So this is a both a big macro challenge, but it’s also a hyper micro challenge because I have an encampment six blocks from my apartment. When you look at the continuum in Europe, do you think that is a possible way, a kind of is that a way to move in partnership together that we can still have these kinds of encampments but make them safer, but have put the continuum in place? Would that be a reasonable focus for all of us? What do you suggest?
Juha Kaakinen [00:52:05] And I think that the thing is to work in a very pragmatic way. There has been also a lot of talk about the money. Of course, there’s a need for money. There are a lot of different ways how we can use that money. Yeah, an intentional programme that we had, the partnership was divided between the state and the municipalities, 50 50. And that worked quite well. But there’s also other financial incentives like the cities are obliged to provide at least 25 percent of all new housing to be affordable social housing. And to do that, they also get from the state financing for their infrastructure investments. So this is this a financial incentive for cities to make sure that they have this 25 percent or less the big cities, which means that in Finland every year there is around eight to nine thousand new affordable social housing projects, which is the most important structural element to prevent people becoming homeless. So always it’s also financially viable and it’s the cost effective way to provide permanent housing for people not keeping them as homeless. It’s so self evident that it’s difficult for me to think of another way.
Mary Rowe [00:53:36] But the pragmatic approach is a good guide for us, I think. So we’d be pragmatic. We have encampments. Let’s be pragmatic. We can see that we have then we have systemic issues around how disability benefits are arranged, what our actual supply chain looks like. I’m hearing that and hearing that we’ve got health care disconnections and how do we actually provide universal health care because and then income support, which people are suggesting on the chatbox is a lot of bad cash and debts has to go. If we were to take some other practical steps. Donnie, what would you do based on your experience? I’m going to go and ask each person this. Is there a pragmatic let’s use Yuha’s language? Are there a couple of pragmatic steps that you think we should take over the next 60 days? Let’s say first to you, Donnie.
Donnie Rosa [00:54:23] First of all, I think getting the right people to the table. One of the things we’ve done is have a project manager who actually was able to treat this as we have to stay focused, we have to project. And we had an excellent one who was able to bring all the right players and then hold us accountable in the way that we needed to be.
Mary Rowe [00:54:45] So get the right people to the table and then appoint a project manager whose job it is, is to is to figure out what the right solution is. Thank you, Andrew. What would your pragmatic steps be?
Dr. Andrew Boozary [00:54:56] You know, I think one in terms of the points that have been made and so powerfully, I think in terms of ensuring that people with lived experience are informing the process, the engagement with what’s currently happening in encampments in the communities and informing the rest of the system already in terms of what is happening around homelessness. I mean, we say this in health care, that we need people with lived experience and we try to do so and have to do so. And I think that’s been a real step forward for health care, to have people who lived experience inform how health care is delivered. We need to ensure that’s happening with how the engagements happening over the next 60 days and the community leaders and peer workers and people that are mentioned around how to ensure that there really is and can be a trauma informed human rights, public health approach to this across the country for the next 60 days. And then I think is the points that have been here about elections and political cycles. I’m not a political pundit, but it’s incredibly clear that given we’ve come out of this pandemic, we need the housing and income inequality treated as the crisis that they are. And this be an issue for every level of government to come together on, hopefully in the next very, very short stretch.
Mary Rowe [00:56:04] OK, so it becomes a kind of, as you suggest, a visible reminder, a visible prioritization around housing and income inequality. Jennifer, you had a couple of pragmatic things. What would you suggest?
Jennifer Jewell [00:56:19] Sorry about that. They need to prioritize protect their push to encampments and the primary thing is they need to engage with the people who are actually homeless and living in parks or in the shelter system as to how best to help us. We all have individual needs. But, you know, the overall plans will work for a lot of different people. And I think those need to be in place. Each individual person, we need to be working, but most of us know what we want and we know what we need. And it’s simply not being provided. And there’s so much energy here with the municipal government. They consistently vote down any motions have been brought forward to try to get them to engage with people encampments who as other participants have already said, like, you know, when we’re in our parks, we have communities, we have a network, the organizations come in and help us, there are so many non-government run resources out there for us already. And, you know, we just need to be allowed to organize that. And the government should be going to these organisations who will be doing this literally for decades because we know what it is we need and we know what’s not working. And it’s been said again and again and again and and nobody’s listening, you know, and just the amount of poverty is staggering.
Mary Rowe [00:57:48] It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? It’s overwhelming.
Jennifer Jewell [00:57:51] And there’s no way out of that. I’m homeless because I’m disabled.
Mary Rowe [00:57:54] Yeah. As you say, I think you really identified this so clearly. This kind of cyclical gets worse, gets worse. Cascade. Tina, a couple of practical, pragmatic things. What would you suggest?
Tina Dawson [00:58:07] I would suggest what’s already suggested is putting more power into the homeless, the unhoused hands, more suggestions, listening to all of our individual. And I would find that probably our individual problems would be a lot of them would be everybody’s same problems is giving back dignity, self worth.
Mary Rowe [00:58:37] Yeah, so focus on the individual, this is what Jennifer just said, kind of a case management approach where every person has a plan and then, as you’re suggesting Tina, it’s got to be respectful to the person’s circumstance and their choices and their capacity.
Tina Dawson [00:58:52] Stand ups, not handouts.
Mary Rowe [00:58:55] Yeah. Lisa, pragmatic, what would you suggest?
Mayor Lisa Helps [00:58:59] Well, two things. One is for all of us, there’s a federal election coming up. Definitely. And we need to make housing the ballot question and all the things in the chat. There’s some really good policy recommendations. But what we’re doing in Victoria is our approach during covid wasn’t perfect. Tina has showed us a lot of the reasons that that it wasn’t we did our best, but we know that we can do better. And so we commissioned a report. It’s in the chat probably twice. There are twenty eight recommendations, so we’ve already turned it into work plan. It’s really boring. But this is what mayors do. We make work plans and the whole orientation is to make it person centred. The report, this report, I really ask everyone to read it. It’s based on the experiences of seven people who lived in parks and we took their feedback and made some recommendations for system improvements. And so in the next 60 days, we’ve already started we’re going to implement these twenty eight recommendations to make our system here a person centred and rights based. So that’s what we’re doing. And again, it’s about the CRD, this report. But there’s tons of stuff in there that are applicable in every jurisdiction across this country.
Mary Rowe [01:00:09] I look forward to reading it. Thanks, Lisa, for telling us about that. Yuha, you suggested some pragmatic things. Yuha, I am going to let you answer and then I’m going to go to Leilani. Any additional things from you Yuha? Pragmatic that you think we should focus on?
Juha Kaakinen [01:00:23] Well, I think that there has been already proposed very good ideas, and it’s extremely important to get homeless people involved and really, really listen to their voice. That’s the basic thing.
Mary Rowe [01:00:42] OK, Leilani, pragmatic things for the next 60 days. What would you say?
Leilani Farha [01:00:46] Obviously I completely agree with what Yuha just said. I actually think what I see in governments around Canada is a timidity around bold, creative moves that are value based. And I think now’s the time and we’ve seen some of it. I mean, Mayor Helps has done some really interesting things, creating new relationships with people, communicating directly with people. That’s bold for a mayor to put herself out there like that. And I like that. If you think about Finland as a country, not just on the homelessness file, but in so many ways, so much of what makes Finland at the top in many areas is because they think so creatively to address their problems. And I feel that lacks a little bit in Canada. I have to say some bold creativity.
Mary Rowe [01:01:44] I think that now is the moment. So as we’ve been saying, guys, gals through Covid, you know, if not now when and enough’s enough. And now is our moment where we have to actually recreate and commit to the cities that we really believe we need and that we know we can we can actually make possible. So thank you so much for coming on with us to help us unpuzzle a little bit of this. Jennifer and Tina, particularly to you two, because of your experience and how important it is for us to hear directly from you. And you honestly know so much about what the solutions are and what you’ve been experiencing. And Andrew great to see you on this programme. Happy to have a medical perspective and a sort of integrated health perspective. Mayor Helps always tremendous to see your leadership, Donnie, great to have a park steward with us. Really critically important for us. We fail to understand how people in your position are kind of navigating all the compromises. Yuha we all have Finland and people always in CityTalk wanting to love some place more than their own. We all want to come to Finland. And Leilani, thank you for helping us with this and Shift and making this discourse. I mean, as we always say, at the end of a CityTalk, you know, the conversation is only just started. It hasn’t finished. There’s been tons of stuff on the chat here, folks, and people wanted to chat to even stay open longer. So Jamie tells me she can stay on a bit longer. So if you want to finish things up, we will publish the chat so you can see all the smart things that were put there and all the links and everything else. And this session will be posted also on City Talks. So thanks, folks, for helping us to start to think about what are some alternative ways to address and learn from what encampments are teaching us and what all this topic why it’s so critical to the future of cities. So thanks, everybody, for joining us. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are. Thank you.
Leilani Farha [01:03:22] Thanks, Mary. Excellent facilitation, as always.
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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
13:01:36 From Abby Slater (she/her) : Hello from Tkaronto!
13:01:43 From Canadian Urban Institute : Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
13:02:01 From Rowena Locklin : Good morning from Victoria
13:02:35 From Nurul Amin : Morning from Edmonton
13:02:42 From Canadian Urban Institute : CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, the Shift. Learn more about their work here: https://www.make-the-shift.org/
13:03:27 From Neil Chadda : Good afternoon from City of Brampton
13:03:34 From Alan Kan : Hi from Mississauga
13:03:57 From Mayor Lisa Helps to All panelists : Good morning all. From Lekwungen territory in Victoria BC.
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13:04:36 From Lais Fabricio : Hello from Toronto!
13:04:41 From Donald Young to All panelists : Toronto
13:04:41 From Morgan Dundas to All panelists : Hi from Toronto
13:04:43 From Kathy McLaughlin to All panelists : Hello from London ON
13:04:43 From Aaron Bowerman to All panelists : Toronto Ontario
13:04:45 From Wendy Hembruff : Hello from the County of Simcoe – Midhurst Ontario.
13:04:47 From Lynn Hannley to All panelists : Lynn Hannley The Communitas Group Edmonton Alberta
13:04:48 From Daryl Kaytor : hi from Halton Region!
13:04:48 From Hannah Brais : Hi from Tio’tia:ke (Montreal)
13:04:56 From Gagan Batra : Hello from Brantford, Ontario!
13:04:58 From Lorne Cappe : Hello from Toronto
13:04:58 From Katie Fillion : Goon morning from North Park, Victoria, home of the Lekwungen people.
13:04:58 From Jeremy Heighton to All panelists : Hello from Kamloops
13:05:00 From Daphna Nussbaum : Toronto
13:05:01 From Ryan May : Hearty hello from Edmonton!
13:05:01 From Travis Van Wyck : Hello from Tkaranto (Toronto)
13:05:09 From Michelle Carter to All panelists : Hello from rural Ontario. Greetings from Huron and Perth counties
13:05:12 From Jeff Willmer to All panelists : Hello from Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario
13:05:17 From Leilani Farha : Hi Everyone – I won’t have time to give my land acknowledgement, but i am on Anishnaabe territory on the banks of the Kitchissippi river in the city of ottawa.
13:05:18 From Heather Murphy to All panelists : Heather Murphy stolen land from Songhees Nation
13:05:18 From Trina MacDonald to All panelists : Hello from Fredericton New Brunswick
13:05:19 From Jayne Hartley : Hi from Halton
13:05:28 From Christina McGugan : Windsor Ontario here!
13:05:29 From Kira Heineck : Patricia Mueller Homes First Toronto
13:05:37 From Tina Conlon to All panelists : Greetings from Treaty 13
13:05:39 From Jeff Willmer : Hello from Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario
13:05:39 From Canadian Urban Institute : Connect with our panel: Leilani Farha, Global Director, The Shift @leilanifarha https://www.linkedin.com/in/leilani-farha-6664698a/ Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-helps-327a4a30/ Dr. Andrew Boozary, Executive Director, Health and Social Policy, University Health Network https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-boozary-3700ab91/ @drandrewb Juha Kaakinen, Chief Executive Officer, Y-Foundation, Finland @JKaakinen https://www.linkedin.com/in/juha-kaakinen-14368417/ Donnie Rosa, General Manager, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation @dlr9 https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnie-rosa-b0068316/ Tina Dawson, Advocate for the Unhoused with Living Experience of Homelessness/Former Liaison Manager at a Community Run Encampment Jennifer Jewell, Toronto, ON @wyld_wych
13:05:43 From Tom Wallace : Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service
13:06:10 From Bernie Pauly to All panelists : Good morning. I am an uninvited settler on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen people
Aka known as victoria
13:06:32 From Kelly Goz : hello from Windsor Essex
13:06:36 From Kirsten Jasper : Greetings from Vancouver, ancestral and unceded territories if the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples
13:06:38 From Erin Dej : Hi from Cambridge, ON
13:06:50 From Kira Heineck : Good afternoon everyone! Glad to be here, repping the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness – taeh.ca.
13:06:56 From Silvia Moscariello : Can you speak closer to the mike?
13:07:11 From Audrina_MTA to All panelists : Hello from Calgary AB.
13:07:15 From Puneeta McBryan : Hello from Downtown Edmonton / Amiskwaciwâskahikan / ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ, Treaty 6 Territory!
13:07:30 From Kira Heineck : Hello all – Keith Hambly from Fred Victor in Toronto
13:07:36 From Susan Martin : Will a recording of this webinar be made available to registrants?
13:10:10 From Canadian Urban Institute : Hi Susan, resources from today’s session will be made available at www.citytalkcanada.ca
13:10:25 From Mark Fox to All panelists : Hello – Mark Fox, UofToronto Centre for Social Services Engineering
13:10:30 From Tommy Taylor : Good afternoon, thanks for putting this together and to the great panelists. – Tommy Taylor, Toronto Drop-In Network.
13:10:36 From Kirsten Goa : Hi everyone, Kirsten Goa also from Edmonton, Amiskwaciwâskahikan / ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ, Treaty 6 Territory! Living in ward papastew.
13:11:41 From Susan Martin : The ‘homeless industrial complex’ 🙁
13:12:14 From Jeff Willmer : “ A Better Tent City” in Kitchener ON is a community initiative that provides each resident with an 8×10’ cabin (with insulation and a radiator). This provides a safe place to sleep and to store one’s belongings.
13:12:52 From Heather Murphy to All panelists : Tina makes a great point about the ability to self-organize. “The governmental and legal systems actively work against this self-organization.
13:13:03 From Kirsten Jasper : @Jeff Willmer, do you have any background info on this project you can share?
13:14:15 From Delaney McCartan : Here’s some info I found on “A Better Tent City” https://civichubwr.org/a-better-tent-city/
13:16:28 From Silvia Moscariello : WHOA!
13:17:48 From Emily Luba : Here with folks sheltering at CRAB park on Squamish, Musqueam, Tseil-watuth territories where a general order from general manager of park was passed banning ppl from being here
13:18:04 From Isabella Gamk : According to ISAC, Income Security Advocacy Center, only 7% of OW clients and 12% of ODSP clients actually live in subsidized housing. Please stop this game and advocate for enough money for ODSP and OW clients can rent a place of their own. Turn Shelters into Supportive Housing.
13:18:25 From Marjorie Knight : We talk about out of sight, out of mind, a lot of it has to do with the perception and treatment of homeless persons.
13:18:26 From Susan Martin : Yeah Nicole! A fantastic report!
13:18:55 From Emily Luba : See you’re also on here Donnie Rosa – am with Drew & we are wondering if this is the best way to get in touch with you about the concerning situaion here
13:19:22 From Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas : Hello from Toronto – here on behalf of myself and the Toronto Transit Commission.
13:19:26 From Isabella Gamk : Many homeless were kicked out of Subsidized Housing and will never get back in. You can’t expect them to live out their lives in shelters for making a mistake that saw them evicted!
13:20:23 From Kirsten Jasper : Municipal govs have nowhere near the resources to provide the kind of housing that’s needed on an ongoing basis and housing still does not address all root causes of homelessness
13:20:43 From Isabella Gamk : We don’t need more Shelters. Putting people up in Shelters or Hotels and Motels is not Housing them!
13:20:43 From Emily Luba : My messages are from CRAB Town (CRAB Park sheltering folks)! Donnie, can you answer us here?
13:20:46 From Susan Low to All panelists : I think the views of the “general public” (aka the housed public) have a lot of influence on local governments because they show up at Council meetings to oppose supportive and social housing projects.
13:20:52 From Donnie Rosa they/she : Emily, i can be contacted via email….my folks are at the park daily – i’ve been there too and available to connect
13:20:53 From Kirsten Jasper : we also have a lot of housing stock that people don’t want to live in (SROs) and we need provincial support to improve those conditions so that they are viable options for folks
13:20:55 From Abby Slater (she/her) : I am sure many saw this article. I wonder what Mayor Helps says about this…it affirms and confirms the need for peer to peer and other interventions as part of the solution. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-trinity-bellwoods-crackdown-was-not-surprising-but-there-is-a/
13:21:16 From Tecla Van Bussel : Knowing what has happened in Toronto and Vancouver … Can the panelists speak about the reasoning of committing to “zero encampments” as a pathway to addressing homelessness? And how the police and park enforcement are used in this?
13:21:28 From Adam Reid to All panelists : “Our Provincial Government is Awesome”… -_-
13:22:23 From Isabella Gamk : Please look up POOF Protecting ODSP OW Funding or me, Isabella Gamk for the truth about Homelessness. We have 3 Facebook pages and one is a group page you can join.
13:23:22 From Emily Luba : Thank you for this Donnie! Can we have a meeting with you 6pm this Thursday in the park?
13:23:34 From Donnie Rosa they/she to Emily Luba and all panelists : is there a number i can reach you at? i have asked Uutlje to connect with you to arrange
13:24:16 From Donnie Rosa they/she : Emily i sent you a message asking for a contact number…and i asked my team to reach out to set something up…
13:24:23 From Isabella Gamk : We are doing a street blocking Empathy and Compassion for Disabled and Poor rally at Yonge St and Dundas St in downtown Toronto on August 21st 2021 from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. Please come.
13:24:43 From Jen Evans to All panelists : hi everyone, jen evans here from toronto.
13:26:04 From Cole Gately to All panelists : Cole from Hamilton, ON here. How do we compel City Council and the to come up with permanent housing solutions instead of chasing people from park to park?
13:27:25 From Emily Luba : Much appreciation Donnie! Thanks for this offer! I can be reached at 604 715 5488
13:27:48 From Mayor Lisa Helps to All panelists : Here is the link to the Chaland report https://pub-victoria.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=69943 The Beginning of the End of Homelessness in the CRD. It features the lived experiences of people and makes recommendations about how to move the system to person-centred.
13:28:19 From Isabella Gamk : Housing is another form of jail when you can not get a transfer and your only choice to get away from bad neighbors is to move out into the street or go to a Shelter. TCH now has ads to rent units to the public at average market or RGI instead of clearing waitlists. When I give up my unit in TCH in a few months due to the sleep deprivation torture for the last 4 yrs TCH will probably jack up the rent for the next tenant. I will be homeless in a few months because I can’t afford to rent anywhere else once I move out of TCH.
13:28:20 From Tecla Van Bussel : Thank you Tina and Jennifer for being here and speaking truth to the political discourse around camp communities 💚
13:28:32 From Mayor Lisa Helps to All panelists : The report addresses some of the things that Jennifer is talking about.
13:29:19 From Abby Slater (she/her) : Safer even in the middle of winter? It is such a terrible choice you have made…or rather you are unable to make.
13:30:09 From Canadian Urban Institute to Mayor Lisa Helps(Direct Message) : Hi Mayor helps. Can you please change your settings to all panelists and attendees and reshare the report and note? It only went to our panelists. Thanks!
13:30:24 From Emily Luba : Donnie, Drew says you know his address and looks forward to connecting
13:30:46 From Isabella Gamk : We never hear the actual number amounts people on disability or social services benefits receive on the news. This is so the public aren’t shocked.
13:30:52 From Mayor Lisa Helps : Here is the link to the Chaland report https://pub-victoria.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=69943 The Beginning of the End of Homelessness in the CRD. It features the lived experiences of people and makes recommendations about how to move the system to person-centred.
13:31:41 From Mayor Lisa Helps : The report addresses some of the things that Jennifer talked about.
13:31:46 From Ryan May : People deciding to stay in an encampment through the winter rather than enter a shelter with available space is a bitter indictment of the state of shelters, and their ability to address critical needs of the unsheltered.
13:32:59 From Isabella Gamk : If average market rent were guaranteed constitutionally builders would build average market rent rental apartment buildings.
If average market rent were guaranteed constitutionally the government would raise the minimum wage so that they didn’t have to issue rent subsidy cheques.
13:33:02 From Abby Slater (she/her) : @RyanMay totally agree
13:33:56 From Jesse Allan to All panelists : Absolutely even in the winter, Abby. Our communities and ad-hoc solutions that we have built, we didn’t do so because we wanted to, but because living within a communal setting while having space to retreat to is the safest way to survive homelessness.
13:34:32 From Canadian Urban Institute : Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
13:35:30 From Jesse Allan : Absolutely even in the winter, Abby. Our communities and ad-hoc solutions that we have built, we didn’t do so because we wanted to, but because living within a communal setting while having space to retreat to is the safest way to survive homelessness.
13:35:39 From Jesse Allan : Thanks for that reminder.
13:35:54 From Danielle Astrug : ..I remember for the big push for the “Right to Sleep” campaign from some years ago in BC..
13:36:43 From Noah Gotfrit to All panelists : My name is Athena Pranteau I am homeless with my kids since October 5, 2020 my question is to address the HUGE conflict of interest that CRAB PARK and the Vancouver parks and recreation board General Manager, deputy General Manager and Chair of the Vancouver parks and recreation lease the city parks from ie the Fraser Port Authority and wonder who they leased Strathcona park from and why are their job titles are about as fake as the superintendent park rangers of the Vancouver board of parks and recreation Uultsje Dejong’s linked in posted resume. So who is accountable? Where is MLA Melanie Mark? AND where is MP Jenny Qwan?
13:36:50 From Isabella Gamk : The minimum wage should be 10-15% above the povertyline and not slightly under it as it is now. Disability benefits should be 5-10% above the povertyline and social services could be 0-5 % above the povertyline and not 300% below it. When a whole OW cheque for a single person is only $733.00, $390.00 for Shelter and $343.00 for Basic Needs and a room is $800.00 this is why you have Homelessness.
13:37:28 From Donnie Rosa they/she to All panelists : please note that Athena – above comment, has housing
13:37:47 From Isabella Gamk : Why is no one talking about the CASH SHORTAGE?!
13:38:08 From Silvia Moscariello : or DEEPLY affordable housing.
13:38:09 From Marjorie Knight : Absolutely correct Isabella, I was working full time when I was living in a shelter, because even working 40 hrs a week, I could not afford rent
13:38:39 From Adam Reid : Isabella 100%, the cruelty and injustice of the wage theft that’s happened the last 50 years is appalling, and needs to be addressed.
13:38:54 From Isabella Gamk : just because there is homelessness in California and other places it doesn’t make it acceptable. that is a cop out!
13:39:03 From Mayor Lisa Helps : Wages need to be adjusted to meet housing costs.
13:39:05 From Ada Maciejewski to All panelists : There seems to be a clear path to resolving homelessness, including examples mentioned in Finland. Why do we continue to experience barriers to solutions in Canada?
13:39:13 From Kaitlin Schwan to All panelists : For an explanation of human rights and encampments in Canada, you can find the National Protocol for Homeless Encampments here: https://www.make-the-shift.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/A-National-Protocol-for-Homeless-Encampments-in-Canada.pdf
13:40:06 From Susan Low : I feel like we need to engage the housed public and consider how their opposition to change affects our communities.
13:40:16 From Mayor Lisa Helps : These are all great questions and comments. We will likely have a federal election VERY soon. We can make housing and housing costs THE election issue.
13:41:03 From Susan Low : The housed public opposes supportive and social housing being built in their neighborhoods. The housed public says “we don’t want to see people in distress because it makes us uncomfortable.” The housed public drives land use decisions and excludes unhoused people from being allowed to take space.
13:41:12 From Kirsten Jasper : we have some good opportunities with fed/prov/local gov alignment to keep moving resources and trying something new, that also aligns with some of our expressed core values around equity and reconciliation
13:41:17 From Susan Martin : If you are in Canada check out the ‘Vote Housing’ campaign https://www.votehousing.ca/
13:41:30 From Jesse Allan : Toronto and Ontario with elections in the next 15 months as well. June 2022 for the province, Oct ’22 for the City.
13:41:34 From Canadian Urban Institute to Kaitlin Schwan and all panelists : Hi Kaitlin. This only went to panelists. Can you please change your settings to “all panelists and attendees” and reshare? Thanks
13:41:45 From Isabella Gamk : According to Mayor John Tory at Housing meetings in Toronto, that I have attended, ” Affordable Housing” is 80-90% the average rent of a condo. This makes “Affordable Housing” totally unaffordable for ODSP ot OW clients.
13:42:18 From Kellen Jackson : yes to water and sanitation!!! accessible bathrooms and water hookup!!!
13:42:31 From Danielle Astrug : Can someone put up that link that Leilani was referring to? (Paper that was authored with Dr. Schwanna)
13:42:32 From Mayor Lisa Helps : More money but also we need to be held accountable.
13:42:37 From Emily Luba : Thank you for the shout out Donnie! We look forward to a follow-up meeting & continue to wait patiently for concrete action so ppl here can get back to work & other matters – Emily & Drew
13:42:45 From Susan Martin : @Susan Low – not disputing this from a perception point of view but is it actually true – what percentage of people actually DO oppose or do we just hear from the vocal minority and how can we combat NIMBYism?
13:42:55 From Kirsten Jasper : we need partnerships with provincial and fed govs (agree with Mayor Helps)
13:43:13 From Leilani Farha : Agree with Lisa above … its not just resources its accountability and its different relationships.
13:43:29 From Kirsten Jasper : PEERS ARE A HUGE RESOURCE and are a pathway to employment!
13:43:59 From Marjorie Knight : but we are not building houses! its all luxury condos and 700,000 homes…
13:44:05 From Isabella Gamk : The province needs to step up and municipalities need to fight back enmasse!
13:44:19 From Kellen Jackson : +++^
13:44:28 From Canadian Urban Institute to Isabella Gamk and all panelists : Hi Isabella. We noticed you raised your hand. Please drop any questions or comments in the chat and we will try to bring it into the conversation. Thanks
13:44:40 From Cole Gately : Please share the report Leilani mentioned
13:44:41 From Abby Slater (she/her) : For sure the longer term solutions should be started…but what is the short term solution in parks where police disperse those in the encampments…Where are those people supposed to go?
13:44:47 From Donnie Rosa they/she : peers played a huge role at Strathcona…very important in creating community beyond encampments
13:45:12 From Abby Slater (she/her) : We know in Toronto we don’t have enough shelters/affordable housing/SRO’s whatever…
13:45:14 From Ryan May : If housing were made into a guaranteed right within Canada, our governments would be obligated to institute changes to make it accessible to all. The problem requires funding, but also structural change; housing shouldn’t be bought and sold as a commodity while people in need go without.
13:45:16 From Erika Morton : @Danielle https://www.make-the-shift.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/A-National-Protocol-for-Homeless-Encampments-in-Canada.pdf
13:45:25 From Mayor Lisa Helps : The size / scale of Victoria does lend itself to organizing everyone pretty easily. Relationships are everything.
13:45:38 From Danielle Astrug : @Erika, thank you!!
13:45:52 From Abby Slater (she/her) : Hear hear Dr.
13:46:11 From Cole Gately : Thank you, Rikki! 🙂
13:46:37 From Susan Martin : To Dr. Boozary’s point – what do people NOT get about the economic argument? Research has demonstrated over and over that money spent on housing is such a good deal economically?
13:47:04 From Jesse Allan : YES! Exactly right, Ryan. Turning housing into a commodity is at least a large portion of what got us into this mess.
13:47:17 From Mayor Lisa Helps : @AbbySlater, in Victoria we followed the public health advice to not clear encampments until there were safe, including COVID safe indoor spaces. We listened to that advice and worked with the province to create those new spaces as a pathway to permanent housing.
13:49:01 From Mayor Lisa Helps : Not saying it was perfect, so we commissioned this report to know how to move forward better. https://pub-victoria.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=69943
13:49:06 From Marjorie Knight : I keep saying that homelessness is the ultimate gateway drug…. the level of stress being homeless is immense, how do you be safe, and look after yourself when you cannot find a decent and safe place to lay your head at night??
13:49:20 From Abby Slater (she/her) : Kudos to @Mayor Helps…can you convince our municipal leaders? It seems a crazy response. Does Section 8 housing vouchers (as in the US) provide any kind of solution? Although from what is being said it is probably no better a solution.
13:49:20 From Isabella Gamk : Our Dr deduced from out health issues that we are Disabled and submitted a request to ODSP to accept us as clients. ODSP has a panel of Drs who reviewed our Drs findings, and AGREED with our Dr, accepted us into the ODSP program as Disabled clients.
13:49:33 From Jeannette Wright : one of the concerning issues is that people living unsheltered are often at risk of being taking advantage, assaulted, and worse when in encampments- by others who are in the same situation. Most have had peer supports who were not able to deal with the seriousness of the offenses as well as “gang affiliations” and the number of overdoses. how can municipalities help
13:49:39 From Leilani Farha : There is no doubt that the social assistance systems across the country needs significant reform and certainly more resources. there isn’t a province where social assistance rates are at the poverty level. Most are 50% below any measure of poverty in the country. But even with higher social assistance rates — available housing is unaffordable across the country … and so ….
13:49:45 From Donnie Rosa they/she : In Vancouver we partnered with Vancouver Coastal Health to ensure we were aware and acting in accordance with the Health Dept
13:49:46 From Kellen Jackson to All panelists : Can the city folks on this panel address the cost of police enforcement and fencing rentals and how that might be moved into funding peer-led initiatives?
13:50:19 From Tecla Van Bussel : Also on the economic point – imagine if cities could shift the ratio of $ spent on policing to $ spent on housing with dignity and care.
13:50:30 From Susan Martin : ^++
13:50:40 From Isabella Gamk : Can we get the description for ODSP of “Assistance” changed since many ODSP clients DO NOT have another source of Income?
13:51:06 From Donnie Rosa they/she to Emily Luba and all panelists : we are meeting with Will tomorrow morning…can you join?
13:51:13 From Donnie Rosa they/she to Emily Luba and all panelists : at Beach Ave
13:51:15 From Kellen Jackson : city folks on this panel — how can you commit to consensual relations with unhoused people?
13:51:29 From Isabella Gamk : By calling it Assistance it tells the public that we do have another source of income.
13:52:13 From Mayor Lisa Helps : @KellenJackson we are working on an alternative, peer response that can attend as needed instead of police.
13:52:21 From susanne goshko : Are you working with urban planners who are familiar with social determinants of health? They can assess housing using these parameters to determine if housing is healthy or not.
13:52:25 From Isabella Gamk : Too bad I am not allowed to speak. Unfortunately there is nothing new with this.
13:52:28 From Donnie Rosa they/she to Emily Luba and all panelists : or we can come to the park later this week..
13:52:50 From Isabella Gamk : #EarthLifeFirst
13:53:00 From Adam Reid : Yes, the poor use of public funds by federal and provincial governments is extremely frustrating. As long as we have “party politics” where the current government is always focused on re-election, no one will take the political risk necessary to implement systemic change. Red/Blue both don’t represent their constituents bravely, we need election reform and less influence from the private sector on our political parties. Someone mentioned the problem of housing as a commodity, a huge issue. Receiving handwritten letters from “small, local real estate partners” in the mail, that in truth are sent out by companies looking to scoop up as much housing as possible. This kind of “business” should be illegal. Everyone should have a home, individuals/companies owning multiple “rental/investment properties” is a grotesque inequality, and another example of people with wealth profiteering off those without.
13:53:46 From Abby Slater (she/her) : @mayorhelps while police are definitely not the answer, if the goal is to remove people from encampments and move them to unsafe or unsanitary housing I am not sure how peer counsellors help resolve this…although I totally understand that calling the police is not the answer.
13:53:49 From Danielle Astrug : Is this 25% Juha is referring to what we call Inclusionary Zoning?
13:53:59 From Daryl Kaytor : Thank you Juha the answer is supply, full stop.
13:54:10 From Abby Slater (she/her) : I don’t mean the goal should be that…but it seems to be the goal of the City of Toronto…
13:54:12 From Leilani Farha : Remember that in Finland they repurposed existing shelters into long-term housing with supports where required. it is one of the ways they phased out shelters as “homes”
13:54:41 From Abby Slater (she/her) : Perhaps income support is indeed an immediate response.
13:55:00 From Abby Slater (she/her) : Thank you Mary for this 60 day response question.
13:55:18 From Isabella Gamk : Landlords know that if ODSP or OW clients have to use their whole cheque to pay rent that they would have to do something shady to get by and so, now, we have ads in the paper that say ODSP and OW clients Need Not Apply! If people get lifted out of poverty crime rates drop. Known fact!
13:55:31 From Adam Reid : A strong form of Universal Basic Income/Basic Income Guarantee
13:55:38 From Jennifer Jewell to Marjorie Knight and all panelists : Can we leave the chat up for a bit after the meeting so the participants can read through the comments?
13:56:13 From Susan Martin : Why can we not, in Victoria (and other places) designate a suitable space where camping is ALLOWED, provide a suitable surface (like hardscape), connections to electricity, warming if needed and sanitation. And facilitate the community themselves to manage it?
13:56:24 From Canadian Urban Institute : Hi Jennifer, we will be posting the chat transcript to our website www.citytalkcanada.ca
13:56:32 From Adam Reid : Definitely Isabella, folks are driven to crime out of desperation because society has failed them
13:56:33 From Tecla Van Bussel : The bottom line for any “trauma-informed”, “harm reduction” approach is not displacing people from encampments …
13:56:36 From Mayor Lisa Helps : @SusanMartin, talk with Saanich.
13:56:51 From Susan Martin : Lisa is Saanich doing that?
13:56:54 From Mayor Lisa Helps : Victoria is tiny. They have lots of land.
13:56:56 From Isabella Gamk : Unfortunately the government has been allowed to change peoples ethics and morals and now after yrs of struggling in poverty someone who may not have committed crime in the past may now shoplift. Shameful!
13:57:01 From Ryan May : Affordable housing would be effective if 1, it were truly affordable and in good condition, and 2, if there is enough supply of it to address those that need it. I am unsure of other regions, but at least in Toronto, there is no where close to enough supply, and the existing stock is in critical disrepair. We need to either overhaul the system to be based on need instead of availability (requiring significant increased investment), or approach it from a more privatized approach with a UBI so that those in need can find their own accomodations.
13:57:06 From Jesse Allan : Not just for the next 60 days, Dr. Indefinitely! We cannot let the next 2 months go by and then return to status quo
13:57:35 From Adam Reid : Tecla yes! I hope they address the brutality of the police towards the citizens they are supposed to protect. The fact that we live in a society that sanctions state violence is extremely distressing.
13:57:39 From Keith Anderson to All panelists : We can discuss and implement pragmatic solutions but how do we prohibit and prevent further use of police in violent removal of people in encampments and their advocates!!
13:57:49 From Mayor Lisa Helps : @SusanMartin talk with councillor Taylor, deVries, Mersereua to see if you can find any allies there for that idea.
13:58:04 From Susan Martin : @Lisa – completely agree. I hope that Nicole’s report will be presented to all the other mayors and councils in the CRD
13:58:33 From Kellen Jackson : I would like folks in the chat to understand that the recent Strathcona decampment in “Vancouver” was not done in a humane or accountable way to unhoused people, even as it remains true that many were able to access housing. It included several weeks of gradually escalated enforcement and fencing, police presence and threats of arrest to those who were not amenable to the housing on offer (for various valid reasons). This is not a free, prior and informed consent model of relations.
13:58:34 From Christine Bélanger to All panelists : Systemic disablement.
13:58:40 From Keith Anderson to All panelists : Agree Jennifer, nothing really new, people and systems not listening
13:58:43 From Leilani Farha : BTW, Nicole’s report adopts a human rights framework 😉
13:58:45 From Lester Brown to All panelists : Thank you for another engaging conversation. Especially great to hear the voices of Tina and Jennifer.
13:58:48 From Juha Kaakinen to All panelists : affordable social housing in Finland means that the rent level is around 50% of market level + you can get housing allowance that covers 80% of the rent
13:59:11 From Anna Fitzpatrick to All panelists : for those interested, CMHC has a program where they’re currently providing funding to projects and solutions to reduce barriers to new housing supply in canada: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/professionals/project-funding-and-mortgage-financing/funding-programs/all-funding-programs/housing-supply-challenge
13:59:38 From Susan Martin : votehousing.ca
13:59:46 From Tecla Van Bussel : ^^ Kellen
13:59:48 From Ryan May : Jennifer Jewell and Tina Dawson thank you both so much for your insights. You raise the most important point, and that is that you are acutely aware of what you need. Political leadership should empower you to co-lead our deployed solutions.
13:59:49 From Heather Murphy to All panelists : In Victoria, the housed and unhoused organized a community care tent in the encampment in Oct. 2020. The response was to remove it for legal and safety reasons. No dialogue. No collaboration.
13:59:58 From Adam Reid : Thank you Kellen. In Toronto, protestors were pepper-sprayed, beaten and handcuffed.
14:00:26 From Danielle Astrug : – in 60 days
14:00:36 From Keith Anderson to All panelists : Perhaps more work, information-sharing etc with adjacent neighbours of encampments so their fear, stigmatizing and inconvenience doesn’t insite unhelpful government interventons
14:00:40 From Kirsten Jasper : Does anyone know if the feds have appointed a federal housing advocate yet??
14:00:58 From Katie Fillion : Tina, thank you for sharing today – we miss you over here in North Park <3
14:01:19 From Diane Dyson : No Federal Housing Advocate yet appointed.
14:01:27 From Kellen Jackson : Solidarity w those in Tkaronto thank you ❤️
14:01:40 From Heather Murphy to All panelists : On the whole, Lisa Helps has done good work in terms of ending homelessness.
14:01:43 From Kirsten Jasper : @Diane – thanks. Frustrating.. this position has been vacant for almost a year
14:01:52 From Jesse Jenkinson to All panelists : If anyone is able to post a link to the Victoria report, that would be so appreciated! I joined late.
14:01:54 From Tommy Taylor : Bold vision and leadership is so desperately needed in Canadian cities! True!
14:01:57 From Kirsten Jasper : well.. new position yet to be filled
14:02:07 From Adam Reid : Leilani 100%. Governments can’t make systemic change without taking “political risks”.
14:02:22 From Mayor Lisa Helps : @HeatherMurphy And then the City FUNDED a care tent that was set up alongside the park that didn’t violate the Trust so that we could focus on housing not fighting with people invested in upholding a trust from the late 19th century!
14:02:29 From Kirsten Goa : Here in Edmonton, we are seeing an increase in our unhoused population of about 200 people a month. One of our somewhat unique challenges is that people come here from across the Territories and northern BC, AB and Sask to access the health care and justice systems and other services and then get stuck here. Often these people have a home in their community, but have no connection to ways to get back or to supports for navigating our system. The multi-jurisdictional gaps are significant.
14:02:34 From Canadian Urban Institute : CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, the Shift. Learn more about their work here: https://www.make-the-shift.org/ Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
14:02:41 From Christine Bélanger to All panelists : Thank you everyone for this enlightening chat!
14:02:43 From Leilani Farha : Thanks Everyone! Rich!
14:02:45 From Anna Fitzpatrick to All panelists : Great talk, thank you!
14:02:46 From Adam Reid : The ongoing escalating inflation and climate crisis are only going to make things harder. We need to act now.
14:02:53 From Tommy Taylor : Jennifer! Tina! THANK-YOU!!!!!
14:03:02 From Kellen Jackson : thank you for your work leilani
14:03:03 From Danielle Astrug : thank you to all of the panelists and @MaryWRowe for being such a fantastic Moderator
14:03:04 From Heather Murphy to All panelists : Thank you Tina!
14:03:08 From Anna-Liza Badaloo : Thx to Jennifer and Tina especially for sharing your experience 🙂
14:03:09 From Cole Gately : Thank you!
14:03:09 From Stephanie Beausoleil to All panelists : Thank you for sharing your story n perspectives
14:03:09 From Erin Dej : Fantastic facilitation Mary! It was wonderful to get a chance to hear from so many panelists without anyone feeling rushed!
14:03:13 From Tim Rissesco : thank you !!!
14:03:15 From Abby Slater (she/her) : thank you Mary and thank you Tina and Jennifer for sharing your stories.
14:03:16 From Jen Evans : we need basic income. badly.
14:03:17 From Kirsten Jasper : thanks to all for sharing your comments and ideas
14:03:17 From Kirsten Goa : Thank you all so much! This was so important and powerful and I’m so grateful to all of you!
14:03:19 From Michelle Carter to All panelists : Thank you everyone! a stimulating 60 mins!!
14:03:20 From Jennifer Jewell to Adam Reid and all panelists : If people want to reach out/talk I’m @wyld_wych on Twitter
14:03:24 From Isabella Gamk : Affordable, subsidized, rent geared to income housing, Shelters, Food Banks, Community Meals, UBI, Bi and the Federal Disability Benefit are all smokescreens to the real issue of poverty. Food Banks do not help the most vulnerable. I have severe IBS and severe acid reflux, Barrett’s Disease and a damaged esophagus and I am on a restrictive diet. I am lactose free, gluten free and use the Fodmap diet to control my IBS. I can’t take pain killers in pill form or I end up in the hospital really constipated. I am 6′ 5 1/2″ tall and weigh 132 lbs. I am being starved to death.
14:03:25 From Jesse Allan : Nothing but love to Tina and Jennifer. Solidarity forever.
14:03:26 From Kellen Jackson : and thank you to Jennifer and Tina for being here and generously sharing your experience
14:03:38 From Adam Reid : Thank you Jennifer and Tina, and thank you to all the panelists for participating in this important conversation.
14:03:40 From Stephen Cremin-Endes : Thank you! Awesome!
14:03:43 From Mayor Lisa Helps : Guaranteed basic income is key!!
14:03:49 From Erika Morton : Thanks for hosting this important convo!
14:03:52 From Ryan May : Thank you!
14:03:53 From Roya Khaleeli to All panelists : thankyou
14:03:54 From Adam Reid : YAY LISA! GBI
14:03:59 From Erin Dej : Tina, Jennifer. Your messages were very powerful. You were heard!
14:03:59 From Isabella Gamk : So disappointed we never got to speak.
14:04:10 From Heather Murphy to All panelists : Thank you Jennifer. I hope you get appropriate and accessable housing damn soon!
14:04:18 From Kaitlin Schwan to All panelists : Enormous gratitude to all the panelists, especially to Jennifer and Tina!!
14:04:27 From Diane Dyson : I can hear you Isabella.
14:08:43 From Canadian Urban Institute : Hi folks. The chat will be closed at 2:10 ET. Please take the next couple of minutes to read through or copy and paste to your computer. We will also be posting the chat transcript to our website www.citytalkcanada.ca. Thank you.
14:09:36 From Frank Uthaug to All panelists : I can hear you