How can the right to housing equip local governments to end homelessness?

Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our  series about what’s working, what’s not, and what’s next, as we (re)imagine the right to home – How can the right to housing equip local governments to end homelessness? – are Rebecca Alty, Mayor of Yellowknife, NWT; Ana Bailão, Ward 9 Councillor and Deputy Mayor for the south area of the city, Toronto, ON; Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, BC; Scott McKeen, Ward 6 Councillor, Edmonton, AB; and Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, ON.

5 Key

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

1. Municipalities are taking the lead

Prior to COVID-19, Canadian municipalities had already begun to tackle the dual challenges of homelessness and affordable housing. Today, as COVID-19 forces a greater number of Canadians onto the streets, many municipalities are doubling their efforts and finding innovative ways to house these vulnerable populations. Addressing the issue of homelessness has become integral to the fight against COVID-19, invoking the language of human rights across Canada and proving the necessity of collaboration across jurisdictions.

2. Protecting the right to home is the responsibility of all governments and sectors

While municipalities have made significant strides, there are limits to what they can accomplish on their own. Through collaborations with the federal and provincial/territorial governments, housing must become both more affordable and more plentiful. The non-profit and private sectors also have roles to play in ensuring the provision of affordable housing, as the public sector alone cannot keep up with growing demand.

3. It is time to shift from ad hoc plans to long-term housing solutions

Since the onset of COVID-19, many municipalities across Canada have forged ahead with new and innovative means of securing temporary housing for homeless populations. In some cases, cities have urgently procured hotels and motels to enable social distancing amongst people experiencing homelessness, or have renovated distressed buildings into social housing. Toronto, for example, reports housing 1300 people thus far during the pandemic. However, many cities have seen significant increases in homeless encampments as many shelters remain at capacity and people seek alternatives. As hotels re-open and hockey arenas reclaim their spaces, there is an urgent need to develop long-term viable housing strategies as we move into Canada’s socioeconomic recovery.

4. There is no one-size-fits-all approach

There are many reasons why individuals find themselves without a home – no story or experience is the same. As a result, the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness vary widely (despite the shared struggle to access housing). Efforts to address housing and homelessness must therefore be built in recognition of this diversity of needs. Among the examples mentioned by the panel, Ambrose Place in Edmonton serves one example of how supportive housing can be tailored to both people and place.

5. Recognizing the intersections between housing and health is essential

One cannot meaningfully address homelessness without also recognizing the intersectional nature of this issue. Homelessness is intrinsically tied to both physical and mental health. It is for this reason that Ambrose Place, and others like it, continue to provide their residents with a variety of additional supports that move beyond the simple provision of housing. Among the players that need to come to the table, ministries of health within all Canadian provinces are critical partners.

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:20] Hi everybody. It’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. Very pleased to be having so many esteemed civic leaders joining us today to talk about the right to home. We’ve had quite a week here at the CUI. People around the country turning their attention to what’s a fundamental right? Is housing and home actually a fundamental right? And what does that mean? What are the implications in terms of addressing homelessness, dealing with precarity, dealing with affordability. Challenges that these five deal with day to day in their leaderships of their leadership roles of their local cities and local communities. And many of them are involved in the national conversation, which we were very pleased to be convening with The Shift. The Shift is an international movement to address the financialization of housing and to use the right a rights frame, a rights lens, to ensure that we actually fundamentally address and solve the provision of housing for all Canadians. For everyone in Canada, not just all Canadians, but everyone that lives in Canada. These broadcasts originate in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples. It’s now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis people from across Turtle Island. And we know that Toronto was also covered by Treaty 13 with Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Annishnabec nations. The participants here all come, all have different ancestral lands that I bet they’ll site when they come on. And this is becoming more and more a part of our understanding is we have these conversations, the history of the land, the legacy of the land. And we have also over COVID, I think, become much more acutely aware of the extent to which urbanism has been, over time, an exclusionary practice that has isolated people of color, all sorts of racist behaviors that we’ve all incorporated over decades and decades of development. And now we have to try to figure out how we dismantle that. And that infuses every conversation that we have through COVID. We were just saying in the preamble here between before we went live that there are some there are some positive things that are coming out of this experience and one of them is that we can put people from across the country into a situation like this and have a really enlivened conversation where we share our challenges and talk about our common experiences and what the solutions might be. So we appreciate people coming in from across Canada and I think probably the United States and Europe again. We have a very loyal person who comes in from Tbilisi. I don’t know if I’m saying that correctly, but it’s in Georgia in Eastern Europe. So I hope you’re back on from Tbilisi. And we’re always interested in the international perspectives we get. So please feel free to participate in the chat. Just know that when you write something in the chat, it stays there. It’s recorded there. And we post the video from these meetings at these sessions online a couple of days later and we also post the chat. And there are often lots of really important things that surface in the chat. So we appreciate people taking the time to do that, raise questions and you’ll often answer each of these questions we’re we’re very appreciative of that. So we also this week, as I suggested, the right to home week has had many, many, many partners. And I’m going to read their names so that people are aware of how broad the consensus is that we need to really fundamentally come out of COVID with a solution to homelessness and housing. That’s the Aboriginal Housing and Mortgage Associations, the Architecture & Design Film Festival, the B.C. Nonprofit Housing Association, the Big Wheel Community Foundation & Big Wheel Burger, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, Canadian Housing & Renewal Association, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, the City of Victoria, the Co-orporate Housing Federation of Canada, Maytree and UDI Victoria. And as I mentioned, The Shift is our great, great partner in this pursuit and they are like dogs with a bone. They are going to make this happen. And helping us for our last session on right to home are these five public servants. So Councillor McKeen, Deputy Bailao, Rebecca Alty, the Mayor of Yellowknife, Lisa Helps is the Mayor of Victora and Berry Vrbanovic the Mayor of Kitchener. And they’re all from various kitchen tables or spare bedrooms or offices. It looks like the Mayor of Kitchener is actually in his office, as I see, although he hasn’t let us know whether whether he’s running shorts.


Berry Vrbanovic [00:04:38] Shhh that was a secret.


Mary Rowe [00:04:41] Ops. Secret, secret. This has been a really profound week for us folks, because not only did we have a conversation every day, but we also had two film screenings. Thank you to the producers. I just heard you say uh oh, are you still hearing me?


Lisa Helps [00:04:58] You froze for just a moment, Mary.


Mary Rowe [00:04:59] You panicked.


Lisa Helps [00:05:00] I was glad I’d attended every day cause I like to do the recap as planned, if needed.


Mary Rowe [00:05:05] Just for the audience’s benefit. The panel is aware that I’m dealing with some unsteady Internet issues. So we’re hoping that I’ll stay on. If I don’t, Mayor Helps is going to step in. Anyway, we’ve watched two really good films and they continue to be available to the crowd until the second of August. So if you haven’t yet watched Us and Them or Push, we encourage you to do so and show it, let your friends have the links and let’s all watch these films because they deal with the systemic challenges. The push is all about the financialization of housing around the world and Us and Them is an extraordinarily moving story about people’s individual experiences with homelessness. And two of those folks joined us, Karen and Eddie, on one of these broadcasts on Tuesday. And it was a very important thing, I think, for us to realize that this is actually about people. It affects individuals. Each of these politicians know of individuals who who have lived on the street or are still living on the street and can’t find housing. So let’s start, if we could, by getting a picture from each of you about what what your particular preoccupation is in terms of housing and homelessness. You can tell us a little bit about, if you like, about what you’ve been doing with COVID. But what we’re also really interested in is do you see the right to housing as being a frame that’s going to be useful to you as you tackle this going forward? So I’m going to start with you, Rebecca, if I may. In what is. I don’t. And you told me it’s not Sunny, is it? Sunny in Yellowknife, but you’re in Yellowknife. We know you’re there.


Rebecca Alty [00:06:23] Yeah. The clouds just rolled in. But it was sunny when I walked to work, so that was OK. Yeah. Yellowknife pre COVID post COVID homelessness remains. With our recent point in time counts we have approximately 300 residents who are homeless. Yellowknife’s the capital of the Northwest Territories with 32 other communities. So a lot of times people are coming to Yellowknife it’s you know, there’s a lot of the resources, the not for profits, so people are coming here to access services and with COVID the one, again as Mary was talking, the silver lining, if you can say so, was that there was a project that the federal and territorial government were like, oh no you need to move first and you have to move first and in the end, nobody was going to move and they were gonna miss this opportunity to buy a motel and transfer transform it into 40 single occupancy units. And when COVID hit, it was just like boom. Three weeks later, deal was done, they’d settled it, and now people are living there in just a few, you know, two months later. So it it has made government move faster to really find units. On the flip side, there was another old apartment building that was federal housing and part of that program of transferring old assets to to be reused. So they were using that as a shelter in place for anybody who was getting tested. And once that our wave kind of passed, it was just like okay well back to its original use of nothing. So it’s kind of like they weren’t even pilot projects because they were successful and and so it’s always that that challenge of continuing projects. Where’s the money coming from? So, yes, that that framework of right to housing is is important, but I think it’s that question of how do we how do we do that? Because I think of water, too. That’s the right to clean drinking water. And still, we have communities and residents across Canada that don’t have it. So I think that question of how do we get that done is the one that’s we need to grapple with.


Mary Rowe [00:08:39] I think, you know, we’ve been talking at CUI. We’ve been doing these CityTalks. I think this is our fifty fifth and we’re going to take a break for August and kind of regroup. But one of the things that we’re wondering about is when can we pivot, the current term, to actually the solutions? You know, what are the things? And as you suggest, some of the things that we may have done temporarily, maybe we need to stick with, you know, maybe these are things that we we moved quickly, we got them done, why can’t we actually make them stick? So let’s hear from you, Councillor McKeen. Can you just talk to us a little bit about. You’re in Edmonton?


Scott McKeen [00:09:09] Yes, thank you. Treaty six territory. Really privileged to be here today. And I just want to say that we have moved we have moved the needle a lot in the last few years under Mayor Iveson and I want to say that I’m here representing him and Council today. The Globe and Mail did a piece, I think in the last couple years, saying that Edmonton was leading cities in Canada on dealing with homelessness. And I thought that was a really nice thing to say, but it it missed a large part of the story. Yes, we’ve housed ten thousand people through our housing first program, but we still have two thousand people, many of them living in shelters or living rough on the street. And so we’ve set a target. First of all, we established the policy policy of mixed communities throughout the city. That we had to look at deconcentrating poverty, mental illness, homelessness, trauma, all those issues that get commingled when we talk about homelessness and social disorder, we need it to deconcentrate. So and the other thing we did was establish nine hundred units of permanent supportive housing as a goal. And I actually wouldn’t mind talking about language at some point today. We use this term permanent supportive housing that we now know that has turned off our provincial government. So we’ve got to talk about language around this somewhat. We have recently approved upwards of 50 million dollars. The City’s just gonna go ahead with five facilities of permanent supportive housing. We’re not getting the support we need from senior orders of government. We think Ottawa will help, but we’re pretty certain that the province will not step in. And right to housing, I will just say the last thing, I think that becomes a really, really important hearts and minds discussion when we locate these facilities and we start to do public engagement with communities around them. I think right to housing is something broadly we have to talk about to our to our friends, neighbors and our constituents.


Mary Rowe [00:11:34] Scott, you raised a topic which I’m hoping we can speak about here, because you’re all local leaders. We had your Mayor on a couple of weeks ago and he said we stopped waiting. We got tired of waiting for the other levels of government so we just went ahead. And I’m interested to hear from our colleagues the extent to which that is a place that you’re being able to to that’s a position you’re taking. So, Berry, can you come next? Because we’ve heard quite a bit about what’s going on in the Kitchener Waterloo region and particularly in Kitchener and can you talk to us a little bit about what your perspective is on this in terms of addressing the housing homelessness crisis you’ve got going there?


Berry Vrbanovic [00:12:08] Absolutely, Mary. And thanks for the opportunity to join all of you. As we come together, those of us on screen and those who I know are joining from Kitchener and elsewhere, we’re gathering on the traditional territory of the Neutral, the Anishinaabe, and the Haudenosaunee people. And as a community, we recognize our collective responsibility to serve as stewards for the land and honor the original caretakers who came before us. The last while has certainly been interesting and challenging for for communities, as we’re hearing across the country in terms of dealing with the whole issue of homelessness. And Kitchener is no different. I mean, as you know, from an economic perspective, we’re on the western end of the Toronto Waterloo Innovation Corridor. We’ve been seeing a lot of economic growth, job growth and housing growth in our area. But that’s also put a lot of pressures on us, even pre COVID. Over the past decade, we’ve. Well, inflation has gone up 18 percent. Rents locally have risen by 41 percent and housing prices have increased by 104 percent over that time. And most of that has been since 2016. And so all of these were were issues that really for the first time bubbled up in terms of our municipal strategic plan as priorities for our residents going forward, particularly the issue of affordable housing. It was something that we dealt with at the region. We’re in a two tier structure here with the region being the the provincial housing provider. But City of Kitchener has a long history, through Kitchener Housing, of being involved in affordable housing. And as as a priority, the community has identified it even pre COVID. We we saw through this that we really needed to focus on looking after our homeless population and that we couldn’t really effectively deal with COVID and the health risks associated without dealing with with housing there. And so we really early on, over the past four months, developed a clear delineation between the region and ourselves. There was a nimbleness between the region and housing providers around decent and supportive housing using hotels, expanded hours for shelters in terms of 24/7, as opposed to just overnight. As a city, we’ve been flexible. We had a business person open up their industrial property to allow tenting, then sheds, then winterized tiny cabins and now there’s 40 people formaly living in those environments. And the great news is that as a city, we’ve said OK we’re not going to undertake any zoning enforcement or anything so that we canuse this as a pilot to see if, you know, while we operate in the region on a housing first philosophy, that this may in fact be an entry point that’s much better than people sleeping in the rough. We’ve seen improvements in health and well-being for people who are homeless over the last number of months because of the better quality of care that was either provided in the new shelters at the hotel, the new shelter that was our YMCA that became an expanded shelter and the supports that were that were put there. And I think it just speaks volumes around A) the importance of the right the right to housing, the importance of the national housing strategy that was implemented in 2019, and how collectively we need to move forward. So as a city, well, you know, much of our our are non-essential work came to be wound down in the early months of COVID. Our affordable housing strategy, which we’re working on, continued. Continued with in terms of citizen engagement, continued in terms of work with our partners, and is really, you know, being informed by, you know, the UN declaration on the right to housing, the Sustainable Development Goals, the work that my Mayor’s task force in equity, diversity and inclusion is doing, as well as a needs assessment in our experience during the pandemic. So we need to work on this going forward. But we recognize, and through this I think everyone has realized, that we need to leverage the fact that everyone has a role to play in addressing homelessness: the region, the city, the province, the federal government, private sector, not for profits in the community. And that’s that’s basically where we’re at.


Mary Rowe [00:16:44] Yes, we’ve been saying this generally about COVID, it’s kind of an all hands on deck moment eh? The dilemma that I feel as a as a person living in an urban environment in Canada is that when I see a particular challenge it’s very hard to know who to hold accountable, why it isn’t being solved. And housing is one of those ones where if I if I were outraged and said it’s unacceptable to me that people are in tents or that they don’t have the supports or whatever it is, you know, I can go to one level who will say, well, actually, if the municipality would do this or the municipality will say of if the province would do that or or it’s all blamed on the federal government. And I’m I keep wondering whether we’re going to have a seminal moment here where we’re going to recognize no more excuses. One of us, just one has to be the first mover. And I guess that’s why you’re hearing me say and I see in the chatbox people are responding. If when the Mayor of Edmonton said ‘I’m not going to wait anymore’ and I’m wondering if. Let me just talk to Ana now in terms of Toronto’s response. Is it. I hear Berry saying it’s everybody’s responsibility, but who has to be the first mover? Can we talk? Can you tell us about Toronto and how you have one of the most challenging pictures of this across the country and you particularly have it now?


Ana Bailao [00:17:55] Thanks, Mary. And I’ll start by acknowledging that I am in the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat people and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis. And the city also acknowledges that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. You’re absolutely right. I think that all three orders of governments need to be involved. I think the more and more municipalities are stepping forward because these issues are completely immersed in our systems. So, for example, the shelter system that we had, over sixty four shelters that we have in the city of Toronto, as soon as COVID hit we needed to deal with the congregate living and we needed to deal with the physical distancing. So we couldn’t wait for other governments. We needed to keep people housed. And so automatically we started renting hotel rooms. We are now. We now have 17 hotel rooms and one full. 17 hotel deals and one full apartment building in under agreement. But one of the things that we did right away with many of those agreements is that we put a provision for first right of refusal and the opportunity, if the opportunity arises, to buy some of these places to create supportive housing. And we started advocating the Federal government for an acquisition fund that we think is really important to come out of these of this. So we have dealt with the immediate needs, being isolation centers, recovery centers, the hotel rooms that we have. But we started shifting as well automatically for more permanent solutions. So we had approved in our housing plan that had been approved in December a thousand units of modular housing and we basically have, doing at record levels of speeding, two hundred and fifty. We’ve approved 110 in April. We’re hoping to have occupancy by the fall. And this is something that we went at it alone. We said we’re gonna do it. Federal government has already come on board, but the province hasn’t either. We’re working hard to have them at the table, but but it is something that that we feel needs to be to be done. And we moved ahead right away. Also, because when you start working the math, it makes a lot more sense. And the City of Toronto also just adopted a housing plan that is very centered around the right to housing. And we think this is this decision that we need to start making. We need to start shifting from these temporary solutions, understanding that of course a shelter system always needs to be part of our cities and municipalities, but we need to shift these resources and these funds to the right to house people. And and that needs to come with investments in supportive housing and investments in affordable housing. So even though we’ve been in the pandemic, we’ve been working at at record levels of cooperation with our departments to have these modular homes put forward. We’ve put another six pieces of land. So we now have 17 pieces of land that we’re building affordable housing as well that has thousands of units being done. And so all this work needs cooperation. But we’re moving ahead. We’re we’re we’re moving ahead. So these 17 pieces of land will have one third of these units as affordable housing, no matter if any other level of government will come to the table or not. We would like them to because we can get deeper affordability and we can increase the amount of affordable housing on these sites. So I think if we start leveraging each other’s investments, we can do a lot more and and and respond to this crisis that affects all levels of government a lot more. I just one of the issues that we’re really battling with is in in in in Toronto, we have about at right now still 8000 thousand people in our shelters, even though that we’ve housed over thirteen hundred people with our rapid rehousing. So since COVID, we’ve housed thirteen hundred people, which is quite a good number. And obviously we’d go to our staff and say, OK, how is this possible that you’re housing thirteen hundred people in four months and you’re still having the same number of shelter beds. And what we’re seeing is people are coming to Toronto from other parts of the region because they don’t have the shelter system and support systems, but also a lot of the provincial programs, people that had been incarcerated, people that had been in mental health institutions that just shut down all that without people and supports for these people. And they’re ending up in our shelter systems. So this is something that we’re we’re we’re fighting as well. As much as we try to prevent, we’ve increased our rent bank, we’ve put more money right away and our rent bank to keep people housed, but we’re seeing these things happening and creating even more pressure into our system.


Mary Rowe [00:23:07] And this idea that unsafe congregate environments have the pandemic has pushed us in that situation where you can’t safely there. There’s obviously a profound piece here that not everyone has a home to go to, but people that were in certain kinds of institutional settings and then those get evacuated, as you suggested, and that puts. Ana, the encampments…


Ana Bailao [00:23:27] Mary, just yesterday at council we also approved to create a recovery center for people that are over housed. Right. So that’s the other issue. You sometimes have somebody that is tested in a household that is not able to isolate. So actually, the City of Toronto is moving into creating a space so those people can can recover and be isolated properly and safely as well.


Mary Rowe [00:23:51] And the rest and the rest of the household is safe. I mean, this is an issue that. Jay Pitter is an associated with CUI and has been meeting sessions here and she’s coined this term ‘forgotten densities’ that we that density isn’t inherently bad, but that there are densities where there’s overcrowding and that it was impossible to keep yourself safe. So these are all huge wakeup calls, I think, for those of you that are stewards of these assets and how can you actually leverage them. I was just going to ask you about encampments and I’ll be interested everyone did tell me this, but Ana, have you had. Are you seeing more encampments this summer than you’ve had in the past?


Ana Bailao [00:24:24] Yes.


Mary Rowe [00:24:25] And is it the same thing? Is it your sense the same thing? People are coming from away, but also and each of you actually are magnets for people coming from away. Is it that? But is it also other institutional settings that weren’t weren’t seen as safe and then they they went to pitch tents, basically?


Ana Bailao [00:24:39] Exactly. Exactly. And and I mean, we we obviously were we’re looking for spaces all over the city. And sometimes people want to be concentrated in one location of the city. So you you still end up having. Because those shelters need to maintain a lower amount of people in order to create physical distancing. And so you’re you’re opening more hotels and more shelters, but they’re not, you know, in the exact same location so people choose to to go to some of the parks. But it’s also, you know, even the the knowledge. Right. These people are just, you know, sent out there. And so our streets to homes is reaching out to to people in the encampments. That’s how we’re dealing with the encampments, is having a very strong outreach approach to try to house the people in the encampments.


Mary Rowe [00:25:27] OK, Lisa let’s hear from you in Victoria. Again, you’ve got your own particular set of challenges that have really been exacerbated during COVID so talk to us about what you’re seeing. And I guess I want to move as to the solutions as best we can, but just describe for us the challenges you’ve had.


Lisa Helps [00:25:41] Sure, I will do that. I want to first begin by acknowledging that I’m here on Lekwungen territory, the homelands of the Songhees and Esquimalt nations. And I’ll tell you about COVID. And then I’m going to I want to talk a little bit about the financialization of housing as it relates to the challenges we’re facing in Canada. I have some some data here to share that hasn’t been thrown into the conversation yet, but I think is really important in the context of us building all these new housing units. And then I do want to pivot quickly to solutions and talk about our regional housing first program. It’s really interesting to hear Ana and Rebecca. I think we’re in we’re in a similar situation. We’re the capital city, we’re at the tip of the island and there are a lot of services here. And so when COVID hit, this was a logical place for a lot of people to come and shelters. It’s really shocking, but I guess this is what happens in a health pandemic. Shelters just cut their numbers in half. And I don’t know how they decided who would go out, but half the people were just put out on the street and, you know, and hence the encampments that we have. So I think in terms of a right to home, we’re having a very challenging situation in Victoria right now. In some ways, very surprising that the fever pitch of kind of anti homeless diatribes, anti homeless sentiment, not not across the community, I’m certainly getting lots of quiet support for the approach we’re taking, which is to not dismantle encampments, not further. I mean, until there’s places for people to go. So our provincial government has shown tremendous leadership. There were about three hundred and sixty people camped. The province with support from the City, booked motel rooms, filled out our arena and got in in a matter of weeks three hundred and sixty people inside. But there are still people left outside and until there are indoor solutions for them, following Dr. Henry, who’s our wonderful provincial health officer, she sent guidelines on encampments to all the mayors in the province and her advice was until they’re safe indoor places dismantling encampments does more harm from a public health perspective than than good. So so I think this this right to housing or better yet right to home is gonna be a really important conversation to shift some of the public sentiment towards. You know, I don’t think anybody that’s writing us these emails, which I won’t repeat because it just kind of re traumatizes people who are living without homes. I don’t think any of them would disagree with the notion of fundamental human rights. So I think we have the right to home, the right to housing is really interesting opportunity to to shift the public conversation here in Victoria and across the country. Secondly, I’ve been delighted to to attend all of these sessions. I’ve learned so much. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. when there is not one of these sessions happening. Maybe I’ll review my notes, but I just there’s some interesting research. Because we’re all talking about building new units of housing, and that’s awesome and important. There’s a guy called Steve Pomeroy. He’s out of Carleton University and he’s done some really interesting research that I think is worth throwing into the conversation. And he found that between 2011 and 2016, the number of private rental units that are affordable just because they’re older, affordable to people or households earning thirty thousand or less, that that housing stock across the country declined by over three hundred and twenty thousand units for all sorts of reasons and we can talk about that later. In the same period, there were only fifteen thousand new affordable housing units built across the country. So for every one unit of affordable housing that we’re building in our cities, and we obviously have to keep doing that, we’re losing fifteen units of affordable housing across the country. So so the one to 15 ratio, we’ve got to fix that or we’re just going to be behind no matter how many new units we build. And I think Ana mentioned an acquisition strategy. I know. I watched the push last night. If there is a way that we can, you know, create community real estate investment trusts rather than these REITs buying up all these buildings. We have to preserve. So I guess my my main point is we have to preserve the stock rather than just building new building new building new. And I think there is really a room, a room, rather, for for public sector intervention in the private market. If these buildings are being flipped anyway, I think there’s room for the public centre to the public sector to intervene. I also think and we’ve done great work here with the private sector. UDI is a sponsor. The Urban Development Institute is a sponsor of this event. So I’m not saying that all housing should be public housing, but I am saying if we’re losing, if we’re building one unit every year, we’re losing 15, we’re never going to catch up. So, Mary, I’ll leave it at that. I do want to talk about our regional housing first program, but I don’t want to take up too much time in this introductory round.


Mary Rowe [00:30:22] Thanks. And thanks to everybody on the chat who is filling in the blanks. Somebody has just posted Steve Pomeroy’s report. Thanks for doing that, Donna. And others are really great to get the chat as a resource as we possibly can. I want to ask a question about. It seems to me like there are two parallel conversations and you folks have brains that allow you to carry them both. But but for regular folk it’s sometimes difficult for us. There seems to be an issue around the supports around housing for people that are chronically homeless. And that’s not just the roof over their head. It’s the roof, but it seems to be a whole lot of other things. That’s one set of things. And then an other set of things is that the market doesn’t generate the range of housing choice that is needed throughout the whole system. So we have. The thing about housing and the right to a home is that we have Canadians across the country who lament that they cannot get the housing they need and they’re not all in need of supportive housing. So how do how do you, as local leaders, triage that conversation? Steve, I want to talk to you first because. Scott, sorry. Because, Scott, you mentioned that permanent and supportive housing language you had to change. You couldn’t use that term anymore.


Scott McKeen [00:31:32] Well, apparent I was told that our provincial masters don’t like that term simply because it suggests that we’re going to give somebody a home for life without them paying for it, I suppose. So that is one issue that we’re having to deal with. I think it’s a little so there. Ambrose Place in Edmonton is is the one that we always boast about. It’s run by an Indigenous housing organization. It’s Indigenous focused. There’s an elder in residence, there’s a smudge room, and they brag they brag about taking the the worst of the worst, the most wounded people, the people that have been the longest on the street. And they’ve done remarkable work bringing these people back to their dignity and humanity. And it’s not a cheap place. It wasn’t a cheap place to build or run. But the data out of it shows that it’s saving millions of dollars in reduced calls for service and reduced visits to emergency rooms and reduced hospitalization. So we know that system works. So that’s the one that leads us to that led us to setting the goal of 900 units of permanent supportive housing. And you’re right, these folks. And I think there’s probably been stories I, you know, I don’t have the data on it. Where Housing First didn’t work for some people. You can’t just take somebody off the street with all sorts of chronic, they’ve been chronically homeless, they’re suffering from some mental health issues and addictions and then giving them an apartment with some support. I don’t think that works for the for these folks. So we’ve set that as a goal. And and that’s why we were we got tired of waiting. So we decided we were going to move ahead with four sites, plus a fifth site piloting modular so that we could get it done quicker. So that’s been our our. I think we’re in not bad shape generally around affordability. It helps that the oil industry has had an absolute crisis so that, you know, the economy in Edmonton is suffering a double whammy right now. So I think affordability in some ways will look after itself. And there’s been a bunch of new towers proposed and under construction right now and that is we’re built with the idea of a flight to quality. So I think we’re going to have a lot of medium density housing available for purchase rather than it just being flip to a private sector person. We have our housing agency home add, which is asking for borrowing capacity so it can start purchasing those walk ups, invest in them, make sure they’re in good shape, and then offer them to the market at affordable rates. So that’s another area that I think we’re in pretty good shape. It’s the it’s housing for people who are our most wounded. Housing that I argue needs to have some harm reduction component to start with. That puts us offside with the provincial government as well in their ideology. But Ambrose Place has a managed alcohol program and that has worked to meet people where they’re at and allow them to stay in there and be supported in all their other needs without having to go out and, you know, to drink in some back alley or something. It’s been a really that’s that’s the model in my head is Ambrose Place. And they’re actually doing a managed cannabis program right now, too, because some of their folks will dabble in opioids or meth still. So the ideas here don’t do that here. You can. You know, they’re going to provide free cannabis and they’re trialing that as well. So it’s it’s that’s a beacon of hope and in a way for us. And we just wanted to see it repeated 10 times.


Mary Rowe [00:35:51] I guess this is the point is that pilots, the value pilots and part of the I think the challenge for all of us now is how do we build our knowledge? Rebecca, can you talk to us about how you’ve kind of parsed that in terms of your community? Because I know, again, you have challenges through the whole income spectrum in terms of affordability. Right?


Rebecca Alty [00:36:10] Yeah, it’s in 2017 we did a ten year plan to end homelessness. And so, as you mentioned, there’s there’s a whole spectrum of housing. And from from the shelters all the way to the marketplace, I guess the challenge is we’re a community of twenty thousand. And so to say, like municipalities are going to take it on if the territorial government and federal government leave us hanging is like, well, we won’t really be able to do much. So in the end, we are kind of chasing the dollars and, not straying from our plan, but if CMHC comes out and says, here’s a program that targets transitional housing, we’re like, OK, that’s where we’re gonna go next. And so, you know, it’s we are the community entity. We’ve received the funding from the federal government and we were able to do Housing First. We started this would be our third or fourth year now. And I guess the challenge with these pilot projects is it shows success and and then the funding’s done and it’s like.


Mary Rowe [00:37:21] And it doesn’t go anywhere.


Rebecca Alty [00:37:22] Yeah. Yeah. So luckily, we were able to get our funding renewed because otherwise, March 30th of this past year was gonna be like and now Housing First is done because, even though it showed great success, there’s no no dollars remaining. So I think there does have to be that discussion of the pilot projects been shown to be successful and now here’s the long term funding. So, yeah, there’s there’s definitely those challenges of you’re kind of chasing the money. It is still meeting your plan, but it might not be meeting the highest needs.


Mary Rowe [00:38:01] Rebecca, do you know this expression better to ask for forgiveness than permission.


Rebecca Alty [00:38:05] For sure. Yeah.


Mary Rowe [00:38:06] I suspect a lot of you, this is a motto you live by. Just guessing. But I’m wondering, Berry, you have you’ve somehow straddled. I mean, you talk about the SDGs. You talk you’ve been to the U.N. The first time I met you was a New York City when I was living there. You’ve somehow managed to keep this at a very high level, but you’re also addressing on the ground challenges in Kitchener. And I’m curious about this idea of what is is a frame of right to home, a right to housing. Is that useful to you? Are you able to move the needle using that as your justification?


Berry Vrbanovic [00:38:43] I think that’s one piece of it. I mean, it’s really the broad tools that I talked about earlier, whether it is that framework, whether it’s the SDG, whether it’s it’s people’s fundamental desire to look out for each other in our community. It’s all those pieces coming together and different ones respond to everyone. And I think, you know, it speaks to a point that Marco made in the in the chat, which is, you know, can we be using sort of a common approach for everyone who’s dealing with homelessness or in fact, you would be using, you know, different approaches, depending on what people are dealing with and where they are on that spectrum in terms of affordability. And I think just like just like for for all of us, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work in terms of, you know, the broad population. It doesn’t work for those who are dealing with supportive or affordable housing needs. And increasingly, we’re having to recognize that and revisit our approaches. And so that was the hardest part I think even for some of my colleagues and, you know, as I mentioned earlier, you know, we’re in this two tier system. We work very well collaboratively together with the Region of Waterloo. You know, Chair Redman and previous to her, Chair Seiling. I mean, both of them are very committed to affordable housing. But the reality is that we we need to tackle this in ways that are meaningful for the people on the ground. And so when the idea of a better tent city came up and it’s actually your former CEO that’s working with this property owner on this issue and as as a retirement project and a passion of his. For some people, it was, you know, it was really hard to grasp because, you know, it’s it isn’t an industrial area. It’s not zoned for it. The natural supports weren’t there, but it was so much better than these tent encampments that were just popping up all over the place. Right. And so we’ve got 40 people there, you know, with little units that they’re all proud of now. We’ve got the supports, you know, coming there or they have gotten the supports coming there. We’ve just made sure it’s safe from a fire safety point of view. And and I actually think that from an entry point of view, this is going to be something that all of us are going to be needing to look at more substantively down the road. And then, you know, looking at the whole spectrum because it is a challenge, I mean, we we need support everywhere. So we’re looking at, you know, what what zoning tools, can we use, you know, all those kinds of things as we go forward with new developments. And, you know, all of these are pieces that we’re exploring right now because we can’t sort of wait for others to do it. So we’re doing what we can. We’re looking at using some of our own property for for housing as as others have talked about, as Ana talked about, and seeing where we take it from there.


Mary Rowe [00:41:47] I mean, part of this, I guess, is modeling. You know, if if you at the local level do all that you can, you make your land available, you alter your zoning, you… One of the questions I think we’re getting in the chat. And I just want to encourage people and chat, adjust your settings to all panelists and attendees so that everybody sees them. We’re happy to see them, but everybody else wants to see them, too. What about the money piece, Ana? How do we get at some of it is just how do we get new streams of revenue to invest in this kind of thing? Some people in the chatter saying, what about land trusts? Have you. Are you…


Ana Bailao [00:42:20] I just want to touch base again on the supportive housing because if it goes into your question of streams of money, for example. I think we need to bring the ministries of health into these conversations. This is not only a housing conversation, especially in supportive of housing. So when we’re when you ask the question, you know, where do we go? Because all three levels of government. This is one that is very, very clear. This is we need the Ministry of Health in some of these conversations. This is their their most their best way to provide some of the services that they need to be providing, is to be partnering with these housing providers, to be onsite to offer the supports. And and so I think that’s something that has been sometimes put on the side. And a lot of people even talk about investments in mental health. And it’s always very hard to find anything on housing. Like, how do these two intersect? I think we need to go further into into that conversation conversation as well. But absolutely, land trusts. I think that this whole conversation about acquisition fund, this whole whole conversation on how do we keep this stock? How do we bring in new providers? We have a great opportunity, I think, to strengthen our nonprofit sector with some of these things. They are a lot of these organizations are already have some land, for example. Can we increase the stock that they have so they can also start leveraging this? I mean, I, I’m I I’m advocating for acquisition fund. Doesn’t mean that the city needs to own all that. I’ll be it’ll be great, I think, if we have land trusts, if we have other nonprofits that actually are going to be the ones involved in some of these conversations so we can strengthen and have them leveraging.


Mary Rowe [00:44:05] Could your acquisition fund have pension fund money? Could it have. I mean, in the United States, there are vehicles to allow for these kinds of investments. And we know that there is money being held in Canada in various places. Why is there. Could you could you take the lead in creating that fund that people could then invest? I bet people would.


Ana Bailao [00:44:25] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think we’re starting to see small examples of that. Where foundations are starting to invest in some of the local trusts. I, for example, in my local area I had, you know, a community benefits section 37 that we call in here, that was actually that is creating a local land trust in our area for it so that the community and nonprofit organizations are going to be managing that that money and hopefully leveraging that into affordable housing. I think we just need to scale up and I think we have a great opportunity at this at, you know, at this point in time and getting ready for what’s coming to to do something like that.


Mary Rowe [00:45:08] Lisa, talked to us in terms of your perspective, again, you’ve been on the front lines of this and you certainly would echo what Ana is saying, that it’s about public health. You had you moved to have dealing with the same supply challenges. You’ve had more deaths from opioid overdoses than you have from from COVID and a lot of that is taking place in sheltered sites, right?


Lisa Helps [00:45:30] Well, no, the deaths are not taking place in sheltered centers. But, yeah, we’ve had we had more more opioid deaths in one month in British Columbia than than almost all the COVID deaths. And that was just one month. But, to Ana’s point, one of the successes we have seen and I was just this annoying little mosquito that when COVID hit, I just I got everyone on a phone call every day at 1:00 p.m., and I didn’t stop until we had the province getting the motels and the health supports. And we had everybody on the call. We had health. We had housing. Like everybody who had an interest in this in this issue, in this situation. And it was.


Mary Rowe [00:46:09] But you were the convener of the call?


Lisa Helps [00:46:11] Absolutely. And every day, one at one p.m., and I didn’t stop like there was no stopping until. And it was probably a bit annoying, but it was also, it worked. And the result is that, I mean, the province, as I said, really stepped up, but not only to rent and buy motels, but they’ve invested unprecedented amounts in the supports that are needed. So there are doctors and nurses and mental health workers. And like there’s there’s it’s an unprecedented investment. And there’s a team, as it’s called Cameco, with the contracted out to this this some Cool Aid Society who’s got a health centre. So it’s it’s island health contracted out to a nonprofit, but it’s this team of doctors and nurses and mental health workers and so on that that are going between these seven sites. And it’s it’s remarkable. But again, it did it and this is where I think local leadership is powerful. We can just we can convene we may not have all the resources, but we certainly have the power to convene. So that’s been really, really successful. I want to I want to talk briefly, though, about the notion of money and where it comes from, from and how it should be spent in order to, again, get back to this this right to home. A couple of years ago, actually back in 2016. Homelessness obviously didn’t start with COVID for any of us. It’s been something that’s been on our on our work plans for for a long time. We had another tent city and we decided kind of like Edmonton, except that we couldn’t do it without other local governments. As a region we came together, not just the city, the whole capital region, and said we have 30 million dollars. We’re gonna scrape 30 million dollars together, and we’re gonna ask the federal and provincial governments to match it. And we went to CMHC and got 30 million dollars from their housing innovation fund. That was in the 2016 budget. And then the province came in with another 30 million dollars and the fact that we put in our first 30 million, made them say, OK, well, here’s local leadership, we’re going to match it. And the remarkable thing about that, it’s called our Regional Housing First Program, and I’ll put in the link when I stop talking, is that it’s totally under local control now. So there’s there’s which is so here and we’ve actually built the fund out now to one hundred and twenty million dollars. So we have one hundred and twenty million dollars. And there’s a rolling call for proposals. Once a quarter they come in and B.C. Housing and the capital regional district, there’s a small committee that’s in, but it’s all under local control and that is a model for all levels of government to give money to local governments to solve the issue. Again, there’s a question of REITs and needing community land trust. But in terms of new housing, and the regional housing first program actually got a shout out in the federal twenty twenty nineteen budget because again, it’s a program that everyone comes together. But as we know, as local leaders, ultimately, we don’t want to have to keep going back to Ottawa or the province every time we want to build a project. And so that that model really works and if CMHC is on the call. We. I met with their board when they were here in Victoria and we talked about doing like a how to guide for the Regional Housing First Program. And that’s something that I think our region would be really willing to work on with CMHC. So everyone else across the country could benefit because, yeah, it’s it’s it’s a tremendous program. And again, it took local leadership to say, here’s our 30 million, but the province and the Federal government were instrumental in matching it and then handing the control back to our region to build the housing.


Mary Rowe [00:49:36] Right.


Ana Bailao [00:49:37] Mary, in Toronto, we’ve been trying to put that model. I think we started with the backlog that we had a TCHC. I know that our numbers are a bit, you know, they’re they’re big. They’re scary. We had a two point six billion dollar backlog at TCHC, and that’s exactly what we did. We said, OK. And then we started. We started with the renovations. But we we are we have now a fully funded plan, but it’s only by the federal and municipal governments.


Berry Vrbanovic [00:50:07] And Mary, on this, I think one of the things we can’t lose sight of is the fact is that, you know, we often think of developers as simply, you know, in here to try to build new projects and make profit. Yes, that’s true. But there are those who are actually committed to the principles of affordability, of building more affordable and supportive housing and want to actually work with us to be part of the solution. And so I think it’s incumbent on all of us in communities to find those people and actually have them be champions with us on this stuff.


Mary Rowe [00:50:42] Let’s let’s take the time that we have left. I’m going to ask each of you to identify just three things that you think need to change or that you’re going to focus on in the next 60 days. Let’s say three things. Try to be brief, if you can, because we don’t have that much longer. Steve, three things.


Scott McKeen [00:50:57] Scott, you mean. Probably.


Mary Rowe [00:50:59] I’ve done it twice. I’m sorry, Scott. My brother and your brother, Steve. Scott.


Scott McKeen [00:51:04] Yes. Steve McQueen. We look alike. So I just I’m probably not going to answer that question, but I wanted to talk a little bit because it was just brought up. We did a workshop recently. I put the call out to the private sector. Said we need your help. We need to build permanent supportive housing. I went to a couple of lead developers in this town that I knew had the social conscience to do this, and we ended up getting 50 people coming to our, because of COVID, our web-based workshop. And so now we’re sending a consultant to go round and interview each one of them about what they’d be. So we didn’t have the answers. Right. What would you what would you bring? Creativity, efficiency, innovation, whatever it is into this. Maybe money. Maybe getting your folks to work during a time when it’s slow. So I word that I’m getting is they’re really excited. This is about enlightened self-interest. The argument I made at our workshop is the city that solves homelessness will have a competitive advantage because investors talent will want to stay or invest or move to cities that are clean and safe and compassionate. So that was the pitch I made and I was blown away by the interest in the private sector.


Mary Rowe [00:52:37] That’s great. Yeah. That’s that’s terrific. That’s a terrific focus. Rebecca, tell us what you are going to focus on.


Rebecca Alty [00:52:44] Yeah, I think the I once heard the term tri sector athlete, so being able to to speak NGO, governments and business and I think we don’t do that enough so that to actually get to that end line what we’re hoping to accomplish and being able to speak in terms that people understand and can appreciate. Getting the federal government to also recognize there’s a cost difference and and some timing issues of the north. So our construction season is super short. There’s some communities that don’t have road access. So you’ve got to barge stuff up. So just being able to be more flexible. And this whole conversation, the third point would be, if it’s defunding the police, it’s it’s just looking at ad budgets completely different and, you know, recognizing the connections between housing and mental health and and all this stuff. So really stopping and looking at our budgets, not just saying, yep, approved that one for a billion dollars last year so that’s how it goes. So really breaking down those silos and recognizing a dollar over here is gonna save two dollars over there. So it’s difficult, but I think we do have to start looking at our budgets because we have money. We just have to be spending it better.


Mary Rowe [00:53:59] You know, that old story if you want to know what what what matters, you look at how the budget is organized. Right. And as you suggest, and the defending police as a move to try to reallocate municipal resources in ways that meet the needs of people directly. Berry, what are you going to focus on?


Berry Vrbanovic [00:54:14] Really I would say it’s it’s three things, Mary. I mean, all of us are recognizing that, you know, we’ve all heard the slogan build back better, that these are uncertain times that we need new responses. We need to think differently. We need to be more innovative as as we go forward. And so for us, it’s really looking at how do we knock down these traditional barrier. Working in collaborative ways with our partners, particularly at the region, unlike ever before. I think we’ve got a window of time, quite frankly, to advance the cause with Ottawa right now in terms of the national housing strategy and actually getting things built. So that’s going to be a focus, getting our affordable housing strategy done. And we’re going to see an initial draft and some quick winds with that report coming to our council in either late August or early September, which I’m pleased with. And then the third piece, and a number of us have touched on it, the importance of getting the provincial government and others to the table when it comes to supportive housing, because there’s no point in getting people into the entry points of the of the housing continuum if we don’t have the supports for them to deal with, whether it’s their drug or alcohol addictions or mental health issues. And we need to finally be prepared that we’d like to think we’re through the worst of this, but we’re not yet. And that’s the difficult part. And so the need for that nimbleness is going to be important because there’s going to be an economic challenge that is still forthcoming even more than we’ve felt so far. And as cities, as private sector, as everyone in leadership roles, we need to be ready to to to respond quickly.


Mary Rowe [00:56:06] Sobering, Berry. But thank you. I hear you. We’re not through the worst of it as we move to stage three, in large part of where I am anyway. I hear you though. Long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Ana?


Ana Bailao [00:56:16] Yes, I think there’s three things, three key areas. I think one is tackling the 10 percent of the shelter population that use 60 percent of our nights. So that is really important that, you know, that this supportive housing initiative. The other thing is how to keep people housed. So how do we get access to make sure that our rent back is robust? We we believe that the evictions moratorium is about to be lifted in Ontario, we are very, very, very concerned about this. So that is a key component of what we need to be doing is making sure that people are housed. And then obviously the third one, the maintenance and construction of this this new housing as well. So these are the three buckets that we’re really focused on. We also have coming in September our implementation plan for our housing plan that we just approved in in December. This is a key component of the approach of right to housing. And I want to give a big shout out to our Right to Housing Toronto that, you know, the advocates, they really, really worked with the city and city councillors to make sure that everybody felt comfortable and understood what it really meant. And obviously, how you measure your housing plans, how you implement your housing plans, how you have those mechanisms in place is central to right to housing. And so we’re having that coming in September, October. So we’re we’re also working on on that with a new definition of affordable housing as well. Something we need to do some work here in Toronto as well.


Lisa Helps [00:57:49] OK. Lisa, last word to you.


Lisa Helps [00:57:53] Thanks, Mary. I’m just finishing up I’ll type in the chat here. It’s been a real pleasure to to join today. And I’ve taken notes and I love, just love learning from my colleagues across the country. The three things that I’m going to be working on. One gap that we identified in our region when we had to move so many people in so quickly is that there are not enough service providers to do the work and we’re gonna have to house more people. So one of the things I’m working on right now is kind of new new service provision with with the community to fill some of those gaps. So that’s number one. And we’ll have more information about that soon. The second thing is, I think the Canadian Urban Institute is really on to something with this right to home kind of national mobilizing. And I and I do think that there’s an opportunity coming out of COVID, just like when the war ended. And I agree with Berry, the war is not over yet, but there’s a real opportunity to use this right to home as a national call to the federal government to say all of these people have just been through a war. What are we going to do afterwards to support them? And the same way that we did after 1945, there was a massive investment in housing. So let’s let’s use that kind of language, you know? And so that’s that’s why I’m happy to keep working on that with anyone across the country who wants to. And then I guess third and most importantly, in terms of this this right to home and quality of life and well-being, not only for the people who are living outside, but those who are living inside, I’m going to keep being that annoying mosquito and convening people so that we can get the 200 or 300 people who are living outside right now inside before the winter hits. And that is going to be a big challenge. And, you know, there are lists in my head of where and spaces in your tiny, tiny or new tent city, berry, might be an option. Anyway. So those are the three things I’m going to do, because it’s really unsustainable and unsafe for people to be living outside in the middle of a global health pandemic.


Mary Rowe [00:59:46] On that note, I want to thank you for joining us. This has been a phenomenal week. It’s really an important conversation. This, like many of our city talks, you just think, oh, my gosh, we want to have another one and then another one and we can’t solve it all in an hour. So it’s always we always say this is the beginning of the conversation, not the end. We hope people will continue it. This will get posted online. The chat will get posted online. You can continue on on social media at #citytalk. And so I just want to thank Scott and Anna and Lisa and Rebecca and Berry. And just to just hats off to you that you are beacons of local leadership. And we at the Canadian Urban Institute believe that we want to. Place-based policy is where it’s at. That’s how we’re going to solve these challenges and how Canada will emerge is with locally led leadership like yours. So thanks very much for sticking your neck out and doing all that you’re doing to serve your constituents, but also to tackle what is really a national challenge. CUI is in the connective tissue business and I fell like we’re also in the urban empathy business and this is the end of our season of Season Talk. We start with a. Season Talk. Of City Talk. We started it at early in COVID. We’ve done fifty five, I think. We’re now going to take a little break through August and regroup. So to all the people on the chat who have been participating three times a week, four times a week to just make sense of what we’ve been experiencing. Thank you so much. There are tens of thousands of you and we’re very appreciative. And while we take a little break in August to regroup, we hope that you’re going to correspond with us and tell us what you think we should be focusing on in the fall. [01:01:14]And as Mayor Vrbanovic said, it ain’t over folks. [2.6s] So we’re going to be back at this building connective tissue, hopefully building urban empathy. And so email us at or or tweet us or just let us know what you think we should be covering. And then I want to just lastly, thank all the partners on this project. Really good model for us about how you can harness broad, broad consensus of people that are concerned about this, organizations that are concerned about this. As each of you have said, we all have a part to play. We all have a contribution to make. It’s all hands on deck and it remains so. So I want to thank my colleagues at CUI that dreamt up City Talk and that we’ve been able to do it. And we’re going to be back. And those are Sue, Lisa, Emily, Selena, Danny, Juan, Caroline, many, many, many students and interns across the country who continue. From Trinidad. They’re all over the place, our students and interns, who do digests and things. And then the glue that’s made this work is Gina Lewis, who is the producer of City Talk. Gina, thank you. Unbelievably patient, unflappable. We got through it. And the important thing is we’re going to be back in September. So you all come back now. I’ll see you then for the next round of City Talks. Thanks very much to you five for joining me. Really, really, please. Important topic. Thanks for helping us grapple with it. Bye bye.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

12:01:05 From Angie Desmarais: Hello from Port Colborne, Ontario
12:01:08 From Sarah Potts: Hello from Victoria
12:01:21 From Anthony Manning: Hello from White Rock, BC
12:01:34 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:01:37 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff: Joining us on today’s panel:

Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, Toronto ON:

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Kitchener ON:

Mayor Lisa Helps, Victoria BC:

Mayor Rebecca Alty, Yellowknife YT:

Councillor Scott McKeen, Edmonton AB:
12:01:43 From Pat Petrala to All panelists: Morning from White Rock BC
12:02:10 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome attendees! Where are you tuning in from today?
12:02:13 From Mayor Lisa Helps: I’m no longer on Twitter! Better to find me here
12:02:15 From Lisa Moffatt: Hello from the stolen and unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, namely the səlil’wətaʔɬ and Skwxwú7mesh First Nations, and the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Indian Band (what we also call Vancouver and the Lower Mainland).
12:02:28 From Sam Franey: hello from Courtenay, BC
12:02:39 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:02:49 From Mayor Lisa Helps:
12:02:52 From Laurel Davies Snyder: Hello from Stratford, ON.
12:03:01 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at
12:03:04 From Rosalie Shewchuk to All panelists: Rosalie Shewchuk Hello from Montreal
12:03:16 From Sharon Dorion: Hello from Midland, ON
12:03:25 From Julie Edney to All panelists: Hello from Osoyoos, BC!
12:03:35 From Toby Greenbaum: Hello from Ottawa.
12:03:37 From Kathy Suggitt: Hello from Barrie, ON
12:03:43 From Daniella Balasal: Hello from Brampton, ON
12:03:45 From Lisa Landrum to All panelists: Hello from Winnipeg
12:03:48 From Carolyn Whitzman: Hello from unceded Algonquin land, aka Ottawa.
12:03:49 From Negin Minaei: Good afternoon from Toronto
12:03:50 From Alison James: Morning all! Victoria, BC
12:03:59 From Cynthia Dovell: hello from Edmonton alberta – Hi councillor Scott McKeen!
12:04:08 From Kimberley Sproul: Here from Kitchener, ON:)
12:04:17 From Alexandra Flynn to All panelists: Hello all from Whistler, territories of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations
12:04:21 From Scott Argue to All panelists: Hello, from Edmonton!
12:04:22 From cindymacrae to All panelists: Good afternoon all! Kitchener, Ontario
12:04:26 From Canadian Urban Institute: Sign up to watch two provocative and eye-opening documentaries about the right to home: Free and on-demand, all week long, July 24–August 2
12:04:38 From Kenechukwu Ibezi: Saskatoon SK, present!
12:04:38 From Charles Nichols: that makes two of us in Kitchener
12:04:48 From Haseena Manek: Learn more about The Shift at
12:04:49 From Haseena Manek: @
12:05:04 From Alexandra Flynn to All panelists: Love the bright blue wall!
12:05:08 From Celia Chandler: hello from sunny Weston in the northwest of Toronto. this is a community like so many others that is in serious need of affordable housing. such a great series this week!
12:05:08 From Beverly Allard to All panelists: Good morning everyone and again from Edmonton – nice to see you Councillor McKeen!
12:05:11 From Tracey Snook to All panelists: welcome MayorBar! (here in Kitchener too)
12:05:23 From Ashley Michell to All panelists: Bin Honzu (Beautiful Morning), Ashley Michell, The Indigenous Housing Support Worker. From Smithers BC.
12:05:30 From Maxine Mease to All panelists: Hello from Fort St. John in Northern BC
12:05:52 From Ashley Michell: Bin Honzu (Beautiful Morning), Ashley Michell, The Indigenous Housing Support Worker. From Smithers BC.
12:06:04 From reg nalezyty: here from Thunder Bay
12:06:05 From Rowena Locklin: Hello from Victoria’s Hillside Quadra neighbourhood. Thanks for the movie screenings.
12:06:13 From Ashley Michell: Can I get a link for the film Push?
12:06:36 From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:06:40 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff to Ashley Michell and all panelists: Hi Ashley! You can access the films here:
12:07:04 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists: Hello from York Region and our @R2HYorkRegion Team!
12:07:08 From Alynne Neault: Good morning from north Vancouver Island – Aboriginal Outreach Housing worker
12:07:17 From Tracey Snook to All panelists: US & Them:[UNIQID] Push:[UNIQID]
12:07:24 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola to All panelists: Good Evening from South Africa
12:07:26 From Adrienne Richard: Greeting from Heartland Housing Foundation in Strathcona County – Treaty 6 territory and the traditional lands and gathering places for the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Inuit, and others.
12:07:39 From Canadian Urban Institute to Tracey Snook and all panelists: Tracy can you change your chat settings ?that only went to panelists. Thanks!
12:07:50 From Canadian Urban Institute to Tracey Snook and all panelists: sorry; Tracey:)
12:08:11 From Tracey Snook: US & Them:[UNIQID] Push:[UNIQID]
12:09:28 From Ashley Michell: Thank you Caroline Poole
12:10:51 From Mayor Rebecca Alty: My apologizes! I’m here in Yellowknife. The City of Yellowknife acknowledges that we are located in Chief Drygeese territory. From time immemorial, it has been and is the traditional land of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. We respect the histories, languages, and cultures of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our vibrant community.
12:11:06 From Deidre Hill: Deidre Hill, from the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples
12:13:38 From Carolyn Whitzman: That point of cities just doing it for themselves is almost impossible without direct fed support as well as pressure on provincial/ territorial govts who aren’t providing enough housing with support services.
12:14:19 From Marion Goertz: Good to hear about the proactivity of Edmonton City Council. I’m in Calgary and curious about what’s happening locally. I need to check that out!
12:15:39 From Carolyn Whitzman: @marion, calgary is going at it alone as well- more power to their arm!
12:16:15 From Faryal Diwan to All panelists: A Better Tent City in Kitchener:
12:16:43 From Ashley Michell: The Shelter here closed down, If only the small town of Smithers would be current with times like the cities.
12:16:44 From Faryal Diwan to All panelists:
12:17:06 From Canadian Urban Institute to Faryal Diwan and all panelists: Hi, Faryal! Can you change your chat settings? Your excellent links are only going to panelists. Thanks!
12:17:13 From Faryal Diwan to All panelists: oops thanks!
12:17:20 From Kimberley Sproul: The average citizen, too, has a role to play
12:17:46 From Faryal Diwan: A Better Tent City in Kitchener:
12:17:48 From Kimberley Sproul: Here in Kitchener, average citizens prompted huge efforts then supported by systems.
12:18:01 From Charles Nichols: I agree Kim, but how do we motive the average person
12:18:18 From Faryal Diwan: Unsheltered Campaign for Waterloo Region:
12:18:24 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists: I missed hearing where Councillor Scott McKeen is from.
12:18:26 From Sam Franey: I’ve been unhoused for over four years and counting, and am currently registering a project as a nonprofit that would house, educate, and rehabilitate others that are unhoused as well as provide housing to low income seniors called Comox Valley Unhoused Society. Keep an eye out for it!!
12:18:26 From Kimberley Sproul: *sigh* @Charles, huge questions
12:18:30 From Karine LeBlanc to All panelists: To learn more about the federal housing response to the pandemic, see or follow @CMHC_ca on Twitter for updates
12:18:48 From Murray Lumley to All panelists: From East York, Toronto.
12:18:51 From Mayor Lisa Helps: @Yvonne, he’s from Edmonton
12:18:59 From Mary W Rowe to Yvonne Kelly and all panelists: edmonton
12:19:10 From Canadian Urban Institute to Karine LeBlanc and all panelists: Hi, Karine! Can you change your chat settings? Your link only went to panelists. Thanks!
12:19:13 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists: Thank you!
12:19:20 From Alynne Neault: @sam – such exciting news for the valley! can’t wait to see it happen
12:19:39 From Kimberley Sproul: @Sam thank you for taking on and tackling issues that you have first hand experience and expertise on. That will be a game changer. Best of luck
12:20:11 From Marko Curuvija: Thank you all for participating!
12:20:19 From Karine LeBlanc: For more information on the federal housing response to the pandemic, see or follow @CMHC_ca on Twitter for updates
12:20:23 From Lisa Moffatt: Yes @sam! Having those with lived experience in the conversation is vital. Thank you for your leadership on this project.
12:20:56 From Mayor Berry Vrbanovic: Kimberley Sproule – you’re absolutely right. It’s been one of the best parts of working on this – the strong support form our community to address these challenges. Whether as active participants or those who are simply supportive of the work – this is key to ensure the city, the region and our partners can move these important issues forward.
12:21:52 From Murray Lumley to All panelists: Thanks Ana, great report.
12:22:16 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:25:08 From André Darmanin: hello from Vaughan. late to the game.
12:25:11 From Murray Lumley: Thanks Ana, great report.
12:25:33 From André Darmanin: Hi Scott from my Edmonton pre councillor days.
12:25:42 From Marko Curuvija: Wondering – do any of the mayors view the future of permanent housing as having specific focus’ on specific populations (ie for drug using, radicalized, non-drug using, outdoors) or more large scale facilities for multiple groups?
12:25:43 From Dina Graser: I’ve been living near Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto for 16years. The odd tent was not uncommon but this was the first time I saw an actual tent city in the park.
12:26:09 From Murray Lumley: Greetings from East York, Toronto.
12:26:12 From Alynne Neault: Our bylaw officers are STILL visiting encampments and making our unsheltered folks take down their tents and remove belongings in the morning
12:26:32 From Kaitlin Schwan: The former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, prepared a Protocol on what a human rights approach to homeless encampments looks like:
12:26:35 From André Darmanin: @Dina. first time I saw a tent city at Alexandra Park. It’s telling.
12:28:23 From Allison Ashcroft to All panelists: in Victoria, due to prior issues and resident complaints, a number of Victoria parks are arbitrarily banned from camping. that’s left basically two parks for camping and camping on- street.
12:28:23 From Mary W Rowe to Alynne Neault and all panelists: where are you?
12:28:50 From Alynne Neault: Are there plans to house these folks after the pandemic? It would be devastating to force them back onto the street post pandemic
12:29:54 From Negin Minaei: @Dina, I have seen many tents in Warden Woods Parks and Massy Creek Trail. Couple of days ago I saw they collected one tent which was near the Warden street entrance and the person’s luggage was yellow taped on the ground. Probably will share those photos on twitter.
12:30:42 From Donna Mayer: Steve Pomeroy Report:
12:30:50 From Nicole Coutinho to All panelists: I believe the City of montreal is taking measure with new developments to preserve some affordable housing
12:30:51 From Catherine Boucher: Acquisitions, yes please. CMHC just woke up to this but it is where most poor people live.
12:31:17 From Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa: Ana Bailao is a very good deputy mayor, but slowed by her boss. Hotels and similar support for homeless has been good, timely. But, best possibility to do housing is in public property. Toronto has approved 11 sites, just 1/33 for deep affordable, nothing! Over 65% market rate, crazy. Increase market through incentives, not in public property! Vancouver is doing just deep & affordable; should be the norm everywhere.
12:31:25 From Allison Ashcroft to All panelists: the concentration of camping and lack of services ie sanitation is problematic as is the proximity of campers to playgrounds and sport field whcih are heavily used in a marginalized community. the sentiment in the case of north park in Victoria isn’t anti-homelessness, it is pro wellbeing and it is heated because these populations are already struggling with resilience and precarity, both those housed and unhoused in our nghbd.
12:31:28 From Joy Connelly: Yes – read Steve Pomeroy’s report and push for this recommendations – very practical and doable
12:32:03 From Marko Curuvija: Lisa has stood up for human rights throughout the pandemic and allowed unhoused people the right to sleep in parks amidst intense backlash. Respect!
12:32:03 From Carolyn Whitzman: also Steve Pomeroy authored a national Recovery for All plan:
12:32:03 From Kimberley Sproul: Yes yes yes yes. Supports are AS CRUCIAL as the realization and work towards housing/home. Thanks to all the panelists for including both of these
12:32:41 From Canadian Urban Institute to Allison Ashcroft and all panelists: Hi, Allison! Can you change your chat settings? Your excellent comment only went to panelists. Thanks!
12:32:43 From André Darmanin: i keep hearing about “wrap-around” services in American circles. what about here?
12:32:54 From Carolyn Whitzman: Not only is @Lisa brave and visionary, I like her blue walls! Total win!
12:33:08 From Claudia Malacrida to All panelists: I wonder if any of the leaders here have ideas about how developers can be made to contribute positively – by asking for a percentage of investment to go toward affordable units, for example?
12:33:41 From Marko Curuvija: What was the name of the centre he’s talking about, I missed it?
12:33:56 From Julie Edney: @Mark Ambrose Place
12:33:58 From Lisa Moffatt: @Marko Ambrose Place
12:34:01 From Marko Curuvija: ty
12:34:11 From Mayor Lisa Helps: Ambrose place. I did a blog post after visiting it. I’ll dig it up!
12:34:41 From Mayor Lisa Helps:
12:34:49 From Allison Ashcroft to All panelists: agree with mayor helps. we will focus so hard on building 500 new units and miss that 3 buildings with 2000 units just fell into the hands of REITs like Starlight and will through turnover have an entire building of market rental within 10 yrs. and besides a loss in net affordable units, we are also losing the healthy distribution of middle and working class families in ‘tony’ neigbourhoods that govt is not able tto/willing to pay land costs for in new construction of afforsable/nonmarket housing.
12:35:08 From André Darmanin: I will have to bookmark this post @lisa
12:35:15 From Chris Robinson: @MayorHelps, the UK has experimented with Community Land Trusts for housing provision by the community. One group I worked with in London, UK is called StART They negotiated with local government to halt a private sector building for one led by the community.
12:35:15 From Marko Curuvija: Another amazing model here in Victoria is Anawim House ( long-term recovery for men, ED has lived experience. The most successful long-term recovery I’ve seen in 5 years working in vic
12:35:25 From Allison Ashcroft: agree with mayor helps. we will focus so hard on building 500 new units and miss that 3 buildings with 2000 units just fell into the hands of REITs like Starlight and will through turnover have an entire building of market rental within 10 yrs. and besides a loss in net affordable units, we are also losing the healthy distribution of middle and working class families in ‘tony’ neigbourhoods that govt is not able tto/willing to pay land costs for in new construction of afforsable/nonmarket housing.
12:35:25 From Scott Argue: HomeEd has been a pleasure to work with! Huge supporter of Housing First in recent years.
12:35:49 From Allison Ashcroft: the concentration of camping and lack of services ie sanitation is problematic as is the proximity of campers to playgrounds and sport field whcih are heavily used in a marginalized community. the sentiment in the case of north park in Victoria isn’t anti-homelessness, it is pro wellbeing and it is heated because these populations are already struggling with resilience and precarity, both those housed and unhoused in our nghbd.
12:36:04 From Krista Allan: Thanks Councillor McKeen for all of your advocacy! Proud to live in Edmonton – Oliver!
12:36:18 From Marko Curuvija: The other thing about places like Ambrose place/ Anawim is it’s success makes it so much easier to have community buy in
12:36:25 From Chris Bell: I think when we’re talking about whether ‘the market does, or does not do x’ — we should try and qualify this. Our housing market is engineered by government policies and regulations that privilege some populations, choices, housing types, etc. over others. So much of these biases get normalized in everyday conversations. What would a better engineered (by government policies) market, that is compliant with the right to housing?
12:36:26 From André Darmanin: @chris…so had Parkdale. it’s too bad with all that’s going on in Jane and Finch these days, that there aren’t the resources to start up a land trust.
12:36:35 From Leila Ghaffari: In Montreal, an important challenge is the definition of “affordable housing” and preserving this “affordability” throughout time. Affordable units do not remain affordable. Are there experiences in other Canadian cities with a successful “affordable housing” agenda?
12:37:28 From Lisa Moffatt: I’m working with a small Alberta muni on affordable housing strategy. I’d love if folks have examples of land trusts for housing in Alberta.
12:37:48 From Marko Curuvija: @ Alison The homeless have no where to go and there is no housing available for them. Parks are the safest place for them to be in many cases. They are also safer together in their community. What would you do in that position?
12:38:05 From Carolyn Whitzman: sorry to self-publicize, but I co-authored a recent report on the importance of scaling up women’s housing WITH services. There’s a notion that there is a uni-directional ‘housing ladder’ and people only need services short-term and once. Not true – as we see in Long Term Care, most people need services at some point in their lives and many people need support throughout
12:38:10 From Allison Ashcroft: Anawim is a great model. looking forward to seeing their women’s Anawim open. while there may be fewer women unhoused, they have special needs and greater risks of harm than men. women have also been shown across the board to be more adversely affected by covid.
12:38:11 From Claudia Malacrida to All panelists: @charles – thanks for that comment. I think the market is seen as something that is beyond engineering, but it is in face manipulable, even at local levels. Hence my question about asking for community investment from property developers as part of the market system, to normal social responsibility as a cost of doing business.
12:38:38 From André Darmanin: @lisa. Check out Parkdale in Toronto. I can’t remember the full name. They presented at the Future Cities conference in November.
12:39:03 From Chris Bell: @Lisa — my understanding is HomeSpace in Calgary is actually the former Calgary Community Land Trust (which received the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s housing portfolio)
12:39:09 From Lisa Moffatt: Thanks @André. I’m finding the legislation in Alberta is so restrictive.
12:39:14 From Lisa Moffatt: Thanks @Chris
12:39:37 From Canadian Urban Institute to Claudia Malacrida and all panelists: Hi, Claudia! Can you change your chat settings? Your comment only went to panelists. Thanks!
12:39:42 From Mayor Lisa Helps: Thanks @Chris and @Andre!
12:39:47 From Carolyn Whitzman: There is a Canadian network of community land trusts, including Alberta CLTs:
12:39:56 From Joy Connelly: Returning to the financialization and acquisitions issue from a land trust perspective, check out the Beat the REITs video
12:40:01 From Sara Andre to All panelists: It is concerning that all the parks are turning into camp grounds. Where kids play. One got caught stealing a bike and police called on him and he laughed and said yeah they wont do anything but at least ill get a free meal out of it. This kind of situation concerns me with more and more tent cities poping up.
12:40:22 From Lisa Moffatt: Thanks @joy
12:40:26 From Claudia Malacrida: @charles – thanks for that comment. I think the market is seen as something that is beyond engineering, but it is in face manipulable, even at local levels. Hence my question about asking for community investment from property developers as part of the market system, to normal social responsibility as a cost of doing business.
12:40:28 From Catherine Boucher: The focus on dealing with homelessness is always what comes up when we talk to municipalities. Makes sense as people end up on the streets of cities. But there are also lots of poor folks struggling to compete in the rental market who don’t have other needs but affordability. And vouchers are not the answer. We need a significant amount of good stock which is not subject to market vagaries.
12:41:03 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff to Sara Andre and all panelists: Hi Sara! Could you please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”? Your comment was only sent to panelists.
12:41:28 From Sara Andre to All panelists: Oh I don’t know how to do that lol sorry!
12:41:40 From Nicole Coutinho to All panelists: yes
12:42:07 From Marko Curuvija: Yes Berry! So many people would love a better tent city! It needs to be properly supported and designed with people who are going to be using it. So many people I’ve spoken to in my front line work would buy in to that. Hvala jepa!
12:42:12 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff to Sara Andre and all panelists: You can find it in the blue dropdown square over the chat box!
12:42:20 From Sara Andre: Oh I fixed it. Thank you!
12:42:27 From Tracey Snook: LOT42 is really a cool thing – impressive that this is, for many of the folks, their first “home” and you can see their pride with building other sustainability practices, like planting vegetables
12:43:47 From Edith Gingras: What are some options in regulating the rental market?
12:44:20 From Allison Ashcroft: yes parkfale community land trust has bought up murbs when they come available. but too little, they need more money and resources to really stem tide of the REITs descending on parkdale. govt needs to step in and buy these buildings by offering something the REITs cannot. these 60s-80s buildings of 50-250 units have historically been own led by groups of doctors and dentists and lawyers whose financial planners pushed them towards thewe investments. these owners are retired and have long paid off these buildings but they’re reluctant to invest in real upgrades and so there is ton of deferred maintenance in these buildings and rent cashflow are insufficient for this. now with concern of nonpayment of rent, landlords are happy to bail and ripe for the picking by REITs but when they sell they will have huge capital gains hit. federal govt can step in and give capital gains exemptions to these owners if they sell/donate these buildings to nonprofit housing providers/community land trusts/municipal govt etc
12:44:23 From Kimberley Sproul: Thank you @Ana. People can and will die. We cannot talk about home and housing without talking about health. As such, it is crucial Ministry of Health to be involved.
12:44:49 From Lisa Moffatt: @Edith, it’s under provincial jurisdiction
12:44:50 From Carolyn Whitzman: Municipalities MUST provide housing targets at all income levels/ types/ sizes. Then and only then can they start looking at long term mechanisms like CLTs, acquiring buildings and lands, inclusionary zoning etc. Vancouver is the only city that comes close on this.
12:44:54 From Sara Andre: It is concerning that all the parks are turning into camp grounds. Where kids play. One got caught stealing a bike and police called on him and he laughed and said yeah they wont do anything but at least ill get a free meal out of it. This kind of situation concerns me with more and more tent cities poping up. Reposting so everyone can see my comment this time.
12:45:28 From Leila Ghaffari: Yes @Ana. Overcrowded units proved to be a health threatening problem during the pandemic.
12:45:38 From Lisa Moffatt: YES! Pension funds. They are risk averse. They want to keep the land and why not develop purpose built rental for ongoing income?
12:45:53 From Lisa Moffatt: @Sara – speaks to underlying issues.
12:45:59 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola: Thought this was a good idea
12:46:22 From Alynne Neault: @ahmed – loved this article
12:46:25 From André Darmanin: @carolyn. There needs to be more creativity I terms of the housing targets and allotment of affordable housing units.
12:46:39 From Marko Curuvija: @Sara Yes, sometimes people that are homeless commit crimes, just as housed people too. There are a wide variety of people living in the parks and all are there out of wanting to survive. If you want to change the dynamic of your parks, lets get people permanent housing. If you’re interested in hearing the stories of people in our parks, check out
12:47:30 From Allison Ashcroft: we are pushing hard for pension funds to divest from fossil fuels, there should be equal call to cut off the flow to REITs that eradicate affordable apt housing. Use social impact bonds to buy these buildings and create social imapct REITs that provide instititional investors with an option to buy into REITs that provide returns and community benefit
12:47:33 From Sara Andre: Marko that sounds interesting I will do that!
12:47:49 From Marko Curuvija::)
12:47:54 From Sara Andre::)
12:47:56 From Sam Franey: Concept paper for the Comox Valley Unhoused Society:
12:48:02 From Alynne Neault: These folks can’t even think about healing when their main focus is survival – it’s a full time job surviving homelessness
12:48:09 From Marko Curuvija: yep^
12:48:10 From Adrienne Richard: Anyone else doing work on what happens when the COVID mortgage deferral program ends in October? Alberta is going to get hit hard, and I feel like the ripple effects will be felt at all levels.
12:50:27 From Allison Ashcroft: matching funds from diff levels of govt are great but insufficient and unable to compete in the market with REITs. need to cut off the flow to REITs from our pension funds and need to provide some capital gains tax exemptions to provide reason for these landowners to sell buildings to nonprofit housing providers or cities over the higher prices and simpler sales that REITs can offer.
12:50:35 From Tracey Snook: @ Carolyn – agree re mandate for housing guarantees at all levels – and where possible permanent requirement in zoning and development levels for this mix. May help with NIMBY and start to foster YIMBY
12:50:48 From Mayor Lisa Helps:
12:51:36 From Marko Curuvija: This was the best panel of the week imo. I wish we could hear from all of you every month and hear how things are progressing.
12:51:54 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at
12:51:59 From Alison James: Another plug for Marko’s Existence Project. The conversations are so important and do the good work of helping humanize what is too often a divisive issue:
12:52:00 From Sara Andre: I agree its nice to be informed what is happening in our cities.
12:52:13 From Lisa Moffatt: @Alison – REITs might not even need to sell, but create partnerships for non-profits to operate
12:52:47 From Marko Curuvija: Totally!
12:52:56 From Carolyn Whitzman: Hamburg does real housing plans, but alas it is hard to find an English description.
12:53:07 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:53:57 From Vanessa Mueggler to All panelists: Interesting article:
12:54:01 From Sara Andre: I missed Mondays webinar is there a copy of it ?
12:54:21 From Cam W to All panelists: Victoria City was effective in pressuring the province to provide hotels, but as in 2016 there image been the problem of the province focusing mainly on removing visible tent cities. This resulted in people outside the 2 main areas not getting into housing, and many are now camping in a 3rd area that many housed people are viciously raging against and the Premier is pressuring the city to crack down on. How can cities find ways to force provinces to solve the actual problem, not just their PR problem?
12:54:24 From Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa: Toronto found $2Billion to move 100 meters a piece of the elevated Gardiner to save 3 minutes to 2% of commuters. It is 50% of the Transport Capital 10 year budget; a Blvd was $500 million. Imagine the impact in Housing using those $1.5 Billion saved. Clearly, Housing is not enough of a priority for the mayor & friends in Council. There is money, for cars.
12:54:26 From Kimberley Sproul: @Rebecca thanks for this comment about how we might rethink all budget lines! So much intersection!
12:54:40 From Canadian Urban Institute to Vanessa Mueggler and all panelists: Hi, Vanessa! Thanks for sharing! Can you change your chat settings to all panelists and attendees and re-send? Thanks@!
12:55:10 From Canadian Urban Institute to Sara Andre and all panelists: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at
12:55:11 From Ashley Michell: Takes a community to raise a child. Right now it takes a community to pull together and work towards a better future for our people that are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
12:55:28 From Cam W to All panelists: *”there has been the problem” sorry for typo above
12:55:35 From Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa: I meant to move a piece of the Gardiner 100 meters to the North, not just 100 meters of Hwy.
12:55:38 From Sara Andre: Thank you
12:56:16 From Joy Connelly: Fabulous panel. Your progressive ideas and commitment are inspiring. Special thanks to Councillor Bailao for your leadership in my home town
12:56:19 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola: Can construction costs on new builds be lowered through “material mining” from older buildings undergoing LEED retrofitting projects?
12:56:39 From Canadian Urban Institute: Sign up to watch two provocative and eye-opening documentaries about the right to home: Free and on-demand, all week long, July 24–August 2
12:56:42 From Ashley Michell: Mesi Chyo (Thank you). Great listen.
12:56:44 From Allison Ashcroft: @lisa I’m actually not speaking about the buildings already owned by reits in Toronto and Victoria in particular, tho good idea to try to partner with those existing reits in some way tho not sure what leverage there is. I’m more concerned with the surge these REITs are going to make now with murb buildings even more discounted than usual and landlords even more open to selling because of precarity and insufficiency of rent revs and big costs coming soon re rehab of these buildings. this model is so lucrative to REITs and snowball their ability to buy more buildings and devastate entire nghbds and eradicate larger more affordable units.
12:57:05 From André Darmanin: i missed the first bit of this panel, but it’s great to hear from everyone on the panel and again another lively chat.
12:57:06 From Murray Lumley: Gil Penalosa is right. Ana please note – the unnecessary spending on The Gardiner Xpressway. Divert the $1.5 billion to affordable housing.
12:57:22 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey –
12:57:39 From André Darmanin: Teardown Gardiner East.
12:57:52 From Mayor Lisa Helps: @Alison I agree. We need a fund to buy buildings FROM the private sector when they are planning on selling.
12:58:19 From Mayor Lisa Helps: Capital Regional Housing Corp could own them, keep them in public hands for every.
12:59:38 From Tracey Snook: new-world-wartime-housing?
12:59:48 From Ashley Michell: Incorporate Cultural sensitivity towards our people of colour in the Housing first.
13:00:14 From Marko Curuvija: Hell yeah
13:00:20 From Alynne Neault: Force developers to include a number of affordable units, waive DCs as incentive?
13:00:21 From Kathy Suggitt: Great discussion today. Thank you all
13:00:26 From Jared Dielwart to All panelists: Thank you everyone!
13:00:29 From Howard Brown to All panelists: Excellent session. Well done. Keep up your efforts on this important issue!
13:00:31 From Leila Ghaffari: Great panel. Thank you all.
13:00:39 From Faryal Diwan: Thank you!
13:00:39 From Allison Ashcroft: In Victoria’s small park with 25 campers there is one portajohn for park goers and campers. ans campera are 3 metres away from playgrounds. the nhood is upset understandably as 60% live in apts and rely heavily on this small park. but… all that said, our nghbd association is delivering food hamper every Thursday, advocating for better sanitation and the neghbours are even doing a daily sandwich drive too. so.. tough but nghbd is rallying and not directing anger at inidividuals but systems
13:00:39 From Devyn Hanna: Great panel, It would be nice to see where these strategies go as cities move beyond housing for covid. Thanks Everyone!
13:00:41 From Kimberley Sproul: Many many many thanks for this
13:00:45 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola: Good Idea @Allyne
13:00:48 From Maureen McGuire: Great idea Lisa Helps. CMHC has the experience. We need to push the Fed’s on this.
13:00:50 From Marko Curuvija: Best chat of the week. Thanks everyone!
13:00:50 From Sara Andre: Thank you !
13:00:51 From Lisa Moffatt: @Alison and @Lisa, yes, buy if they are selling, otherwise partnership with non-profits.
13:00:53 From Richard Clarke to All panelists: Thanks to the panelists!
13:00:58 From Lisa Moffatt: Thank you all!
13:01:17 From Celia Chandler: Such a great week, thanks.
13:01:22 From Nemoy Lewis to All panelists: Great discussion!! Thanks to you all.
13:01:27 From Lisa Moffatt: Enjoy your break @Mary!
13:01:35 From Toby Greenbaum: Well deserved break! This has been great.
13:01:38 From Negin Minaei: Thank you CanUrb, housing is a super important matter to deal with.
13:01:44 From Abby S: Noooo…what are we going to do at noon in Toronto?
13:01:49 From Negin Minaei: Goodbye
13:01:51 From Faryal Diwan: Thank you!
13:01:52 From Laurel Davies Snyder: Fantastic week of discussions, ideas, empathy. Thank you. Stay safe & well everyone.
13:01:53 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey –
13:02:00 From Abby S: These have been fantastic…
13:02:00 From Angie Desmarais: Well deserve…enjoy your break!
13:02:02 From Mark Guslits: These have been great !! Thanks Mary. Thanks CUI !!
13:02:02 From Allison Ashcroft: @ lisa dont wait for murbs to list, we need to go after these buildings for acquisition and come with some tax breaks in hand to do so i/m/o
13:02:03 From Beverly Allard to All panelists: Yes, its been a wonderful week- thank you!
13:02:17 From Mayor Lisa Helps: @Alison, good idea!
13:02:21 From Ashley Michell: AMAZING week Mesi Chyo (Thank you)
13:02:22 From Irena Kohn: Thank you, all!
13:02:26 From Abby S: Thank you to all the Mayors who braved your panel!
13:02:27 From Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa: Thanks to you, Mary and CUI. Great series… looking forward to September’s sessions.
13:02:38 From Sam Franey: Thank you
13:02:39 From Lisa Moffatt: Yes @Alison, proactive!
13:02:56 From Maureen McGuire: Looking forward to Sept.
13:02:57 From Olusola Olufemi: Thank you!