What is the right to housing and why does it matter? Lessons from around the world

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 – What is the right to housing and why does it matter? Lessons from around the world – are Shivani Chaudhry, Executive Director, Housing and Land Rights Network (India); Leilani Farha, Global Director, The Shift (Canada); Paula C. Marques, Councilor, Local Development and Housing, City of Lisbon (Portugal); Brennan Rigby, The Shift Aoetearoa Project Lead, Community Housing Aotearoa (New Zealand); and Michel Tremblay, Senior Vice-President, Policy and Innovation, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

5 Key

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

One prescription for COVID, many inequalities and a path forward

Our international panelists confirmed that the primary prescription for the global pandemic was the same: “to stay safe, stay home”. COVID-19 has made absolutely clear the inextricability of adequate housing and life, health and safety – this is the basis of the Right to Home. COVID has exposed existing vulnerabilities and systemic inequalities faced by the many who cannot follow this simple guideline because of a lack of safe, adequate housing. Homelessness, domestic violence and the precarity of migrant workers existed before the pandemic but could a rights-based approach to housing finally provide lasting solutions?

Early COVID responses – a change in political will or response to necessity?

Governments across the globe have responded to the pandemic in vastly different ways, but each of our panelists spoke of some similar initial emergency responses implemented by governments to meet the immediate needs of those without a home. In New Delhi, some people experiencing homelessness were provided temporary shelter and meals, though many migrant workers remained stranded without employment, housing, or transportation. In Lisbon, rent collection was suspended for public housing and short-term rental activities (e.g., Airbnb) were halted. In the wake of COVID-19, early interventions such as these are interpreted by some as a demonstration of the missing political will that has allowed homelessness and housing crises to deepen around the world. Leilani Farha attributes these actions to a new awareness that adequate housing is a matter of life and death and is a necessity for all.

From emergency response to a secure housing future – what needs to change?

In addition to sparking an immediate emergency response for those without housing, the pandemic has invited a critical examination of housing policies and who holds decision-making power. Both land rights activist Shivani Chaudhry and Lisbon City Councillor Paula Marques revealed that the supply of social rental housing is clearly insufficient. But all panelists warn against falling back into the needs-based approach that focuses only on housing for the most vulnerable rather than an equity-based approach. A right to housing mentality is what is needed to protect today’s unhoused populations and future generations.

The need to get COVID recovery right

Panelists all expressed concern about approaches to post-COVID economic recovery and how it might impact housing and homelessness. For Shivani Chaudhry, a strong emphasis on infrastructure and development projects could contribute to displacement and homelessness. Michel Tremblay agreed that decisions on economic recovery will need to take into account the right to housing. There was consensus that strictly market-based approaches will not work. In addition to the creation of more affordable public housing, regulation of the housing market through rights compliance will be necessary.

Can a human rights-based approach to housing hold governments accountable?

The Canadian federal government’s National Housing Strategy (NHS) includes an acknowledgment of housing as a human right – a right legislated in the National Housing Strategy Act. In their consultations, the federal government heard that people across Canada agree that all have a right to the dignity of an adequate home – such a right, enshrined in law, provides a clear mandate. Shivani Chaudhry acknowledged the role of the central government in India to realizing this right, but maintains that they must cede control to local governments to take necessary action. Equally necessary is the adoption of a more participatory approach to policy-making, ensuring that those with lived experience of homelessness have a place at the decision-making table.

Full Panel

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

Mary Rowe [00:00:18] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really, really glad to have you join us today. We have an international broadcast, which we’re really, really thrilled to be able to make possible with many, many, many partners. You saw that opening slide. You’ll see a long list of partners across the bottom which is fantastic. And it’s exactly what we would have hoped that CityTalk would become is a platform for all different organizations and folks to use to create a collaborative space for us together to try to make sense of this.


Mary Rowe [00:00:48] We’ve been tracking the impacts of COVID because CUI is in the connective tissue business and we really want people to learn from one another across the country and to learn from people practicing city building around the world so that we can, this is a global challenge and an extraordinary time, really extraordinary time for us to come to terms with things that probably weren’t working so well before COVID. But during COVID have just been completely accelerated and made much worse. So we want to I want to thank all those partners. And and we’ve got people, hundreds of people joining on CityTalk this week. And as people know, there are four of these at noontime Eastern. Different kind of different times around the world. But at this hour, whatever hour it is in your time zone right now is there will be one like this tomorrow and then the next day and then the next day four. And so we really hope you’re going to tune in for as many as you can. Similarly, what’s extraordinary about this partnership is that we also have access to two fabulous films that talk about the lived experience of homelessness and lack of affordable housing and access to housing. And then the whole financialization of the housing industry and market and the extent to which that is impacting housing policy in cities around the world. So if you haven’t yet. Go to canurb.org or Google Right to Home. Canadian Urban Institute and you’ll see links to all these sessions, including today, but also it’ll give you the links for these films.


Mary Rowe [00:02:12] And I watched Us and Them on the weekend.


[00:02:16] This is an extraordinary film, folks. And we’re so lucky. Tomorrow, we have the filmmaker with us and we have a couple of the people who are in the film talking about their lived experience with homelessness. And similarly, Push, if you’ve not seen that, I’m going to watch it again. I saw it in the theatre when it first debuted, and I watch it again tonight. These are both really effective uses of the film media to try to give us opportunities to reflect on a fundamental challenge that we are collectively having to address in in all of the world, which is why we have participants here to talk to us about their experience. These broadcasts from the Canadian Urban Institute originate in Toronto, and so we always acknowledge that that’s the traditional territory or the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. It’s now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples from across Turtle Island. Toronto is also covered by Treaty 13, which was signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Anishnabeg nations. Homelessness affects Indigenous people disproportionately. It’s something it’s a phenomenon in certain urban centres more than in others. But it’s very visible in urban centres in Canada and we are cognizant of the systemic ways in which we have reinforced these kinds of patterns of exclusion that have affected Indigenous peoples. But they also affect people of color, people with lower income. And as many know, on CityTalk we’ve been coming to terms, trying, trying to come to terms with systemic racism, anti-Black racism. And how that also is infusing into city building. So we have this perverse opportunity, folks, as we cope with a global pandemic to see if we can reset how we approach fundamental aspects of urban life. And I’m just going to once read all the sponsors for this whole Right to Home week. I’ll read them down and I’ll read it to you. So I just want to acknowledge CMHC, which is with us here on this broadcast, and Michel will be back with us another time. And, of course, our great partners, The Shift, they are making their home, their Canadian home with us at the Canadian Urban Institute. We’re thrilled to have them that’s Leilani, who’s here and her colleagues. And Leilani will be back a couple of days later, too, for another one of these sessions. And she’s leading the charge to see if the right to housing approach can fundamentally alter the outcomes here in Canada for homelessness. Addressing homelessness and affordable housing. In addition to those two sponsors, the Aboriginal Housing and Mortgage Association, the Architecture Design Film Festival, which is where I first saw Push in New York, B.C. Nonprofit Housing Association, the Big Wheel Community Foundation in the Big Wheel Burger, CMHC. I just mentioned the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, and I know Tim Richter is joining us tomorrow. I think the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, the Center for Equality, Rights and Accommodation, the City of Vancouver. I know the Mayor is joining us, the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada, Maytree and UDI Victoria. And I’m sure that if we’d had more time, we would have had dozens of other partners.


Mary Rowe [00:05:13] The key thing question for us all has to be, OK, we all know this is a challenge and we have a number of organizations that are committed to it. How do we solve it? So that’s why we have really important guests with us, some of whom have gotten up in the middle of the night.


Mary Rowe [00:05:29] And we’re keen to be in, if we can, with the person who is furthest away. Brennan Rigby, who tells me it’s four o’clock in the morning there in New Zealand. So, Brennan, just talk to us about your perspective on this. What do you do? What is your role in terms of addressing homelessness? And can you also just remember we have viewers and listeners coming in from around the world. If you can just fill us in on what you’ve been seeing in your hometown and we always ask people to tell us what it’s been like in your neighborhood. So can you tell us a bit about that? And good morning to you. Thanks for joining us.


Brennan Rigby [00:06:00] Thank you very much. Kia ora everyone. Him. (Land acknowledgement in Maori) Just briefly acknowledged that I’m sitting here in New Zealand and the beautiful forest of Titiwa were the ancestral lands of (inaudible to transcriber) and acknowledge all of the indigenous people in Aotearoa, as well as those in your lands over there and all of the places where you are. So, Kia ora, and thank you very much for the invitation to come and join this conversation.


Brennan Rigby [00:06:37] We obviously have a pretty unique, COVID experience here in Aotearoa.


Brennan Rigby [00:06:43] And, you know, it’s just, you know, honestly, with deep, deep respect and empathy that I speak with you all because we we are in a very lucky situation with now back to normal life, really. You know, we’ve got covered contained at the borders, i.e. at quarantine sites. People ask people do come back into the country. I believe there’s a couple of hundred coming in each day, mostly New Zealanders repatriating and they’re going straight into a quarantine facility. So to the extent that people need to work in those quarantine facilities, nurses, doctors, hotel staff, there’s a risk that there could be more community transmission. But at the moment, we’re managing to avoid that outcome.


Brennan Rigby [00:07:34] So, yes, it’s extremely lucky. And I just wanted to touch as well.


Brennan Rigby [00:07:43] You know, your one of your comments, Mary, which was, you know, the way I guess starting a systemic level, the way that’s COVID has really highlighted, you know, numerous flaws and faults in housing systems globally and certainly domestically in New Zealand, but also the systemic racism that really sits at the heart of many of these things.


Brennan Rigby [00:08:07] And I was just at a conference on Saturday where the let me just let me just go back to some introductions. I’m what we call Pakeha in New Zealand. I’m not Maori, I’m not I’m not Indigenous very much a European New Zealander and, you know, very conscious that it’s my heritage, the heritage that I inherit. And a New Zealand is a heritage of colonialization, colonization and the hegemony of the state and the inherent racism of the state. And these are all things that have really of course, they were already playing out in homelessness, as you mentioned, overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples. And, you know, it really highlighted COVID has really highlighted all of these things. But I’ll just pass over in a moment. The last thing I’ll say is that, you know, COVID from I suspect of the systemic thing that COVID has proven is that, you know, we could have actually solved homelessness many times over before COVID hit, there was the budget available.


Brennan Rigby [00:09:25] There was the resources available in government. But there wasn’t the will. Under normal operating circumstances or BAU (business as usual) under COVID, the only, the only thing that was added was the will. And hey presto, we’ve got a lot of resources and a lot of agility and government and service provision. So it’s just some opening reflections, I guess, and Kia ora again. Thank you very much for the invitation to be with you.


Mary Rowe [00:09:54] Thanks for getting up so early in the morning. Good grief. And just a couple of quick things. One is that we’re getting some scratching sound. I don’t know if it’s somebody rustling paper or whatever it may be that I’m going to have to ask people to mute their mics if you’re not speaking. Or it could be Brennan’s puppy. Who is that Brennan?


Brennan Rigby [00:10:11] That is Willow.


Mary Rowe [00:10:13] And the fact that it’s 4:00 in the morning, we have to cut you some slack with Willow that she’s saying, why are we Daddy? What is going on? OK.


Mary Rowe [00:10:22] Well, if that’s Willow were glad to have it. The second thing is I committed what could be the greatest Canadian faux pas just in history.


Mary Rowe [00:10:31] It might be it’s been repeated many times, and that is that I misspoke and acknowledged as a sponsor the city of Vancouver, when, in fact, it’s the City of Victoria


Mary Rowe [00:10:41] And of course, Victoria is tired of decades of being misrepresented as Vancouver.


Mary Rowe [00:10:48] And also the Mayor of Victoria is on the chat and is very politely pointing out that I misspoke. So, it’s the city of Victoria that is sponsoring this and it is Mayor Helps who’s joining us. She’s on the chat and she’s also in subsequent sessions. And I will just say that Victoria has a particular struggle with homelessness and not it shares that with some of the other Western cities, Seattle and and and San Francisco and Los Angeles climate, but all sorts of other conditions that lend itself to a particular kind of challenge.


Mary Rowe [00:11:22] And Mayor Helps has been on the absolute front lines of trying to tackle this and trying to address it. And not only the impacts of COVID, but also the impacts of all the opioid overdoses that are accompanying the lockdowns of the pandemics. So Mayor Helps, we’re glad to have you here, and we are very aware that it is the city of Victoria that is leading the charge for us and helping us sponsor this. Brennan, thanks. We’re going to come back to you on some specifics about New Zealand. Let’s now go to Shivani, who is in Delhi, and she’s telling me that she’s having your morning coffee or tea. It’s the morning time there.


Mary Rowe [00:11:51] Shivani, thanks for joining us, because I know it’s wrong. It’s the evening. The night time. Sorry. It’s the night time. That’s right. She well, she’s having evening tea. So, Shivani, you’re you’re at the end of your day.


Shivani Chaudhry [00:12:03] Yes. So greetings from New Delhi. And thank you so much, Mary, and all the sponsors for organizing this and for inviting me. It really is a privilege to be on this panel. And as many of you know, India has seen a huge surge in cases over the last month. And we were one of the first to go into a complete lockdown. So India was the harshest lockdown. But before I speak about that, I’ll introduce myself. I’m the Executive Director of the Housing and Land Rights Network. We have been working for over 15 years now, and the organization really focuses on promoting and implementing a human rights approach to housing and trying to ensure that people everywhere can, you know, live with peace, dignity, safety and security. And before this position, I also worked at the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington, D.C., looking at international human rights law issues and the intersection with the environment. So our organization has been struggling to cope with the crisis as everywhere else in the world. I think COVID’s really highlighted that adequate housing is so vital to people’s health and lives more than ever before. I mean, We’ve all known this, activists and advocates of the right to housing, but I think it became very real for everybody else. And it also showed us the gaps in social policy and the failures. And I think in all countries, as you explained, why have we not addressed the issue of homelessness? Why has this unacceptable reality been allowed to continue for so many years? But unfortunately, I think, oh, what we’ve seen is that the response has not been rights based. And I and I see in some countries maybe. Yes, more than in others. But we also need to understand that in India, we have a population of about four million homeless people just in urban areas. We have about 70 million people living in informal settlements.


Shivani Chaudhry [00:14:02] So the very critical policy questions that arose were, how do you stay at home when you don’t have a home? And I think this is a very important in the Canadian context, too, and in many countries. But what also has really been important and not enough importance in the policy and the media sphere is how do you stay healthy and safe at home when you don’t have an adequate home? And I think the element of adequacy in talking about a human right to housing is so important because we see people locked in, forced to live in very congested conditions. Many people in one room without ventilation, without sanitation, without access to water. And we’ve seen a rise in respiratory and health issues because of indoor air pollution. Very severe problem that’s not spoken about. Problems related to domestic violence we’ve seen horrific rises in domestic violence. So I think the importance of safe home has never been more loud, you know, for the world. But how are states responding? Are we recognizing it? And I think, sadly, the answer is no. So in India, for example, you know, as soon as we had this two month lockdown, which was announced within four hours, homeless people were put into shelters in schools and in temporary housing. That was not adequate. So the only good thing the government did was to give them free food, you know, and that prevented a lot of hunger related deaths because, you know, if you’re locked down, you don’t have savings, you don’t have access to food. So I think that was a good thing that we did. We made sure that people had free access to food. But after the lockdown, we closed those temporary shelters in most parts of the country. And people are back on the streets. So was there  really a relief? Was there a policy understanding? And many people actually preferred being out on the streets because of those jail-like conditions. You know, so it’s really like the frying pan on the fire. Where is the durable solution for housing? And now we have the state looking at the migrant crisis. And I am sure everybody here has seen some image from India which became synonymous with migrants walking home. It was such a traumatic experience for people, but it was also a visibilizing of the housing crisis in cities. Right. It visibilized that the urban and the rural are not distinct binaries, you see, they are connected and we have to look at the indivisibility of rights. And I think that from that angle of this pandemic, you know, the upside is that, yes, we have understood these issues. The invisibilized people are up there, but the response is not rights-based so I think we have one step that we’ve taken and an understanding that that is a problem. But how do we solve it? It’s something that that we need to see and we need to ensure that the rights based approach is at the core of our response. And I can talk about it later as to how, you know, economic recovery and investment and the push to recover from COVID is actually leading to more evictions in India just during the pandemic.


Shivani Chaudhry [00:17:13] You know, we’ve already seen over 16,000 people forcibly evicted from their homes. That’s not a rights based approach. That’s not understanding that people need safe and secure housing. So I think there are contradictions, even in policies and in the statements that government officials make at different levels. And now with, you know, the whole push that the economy is under such a severe shock, people have lost jobs. So let’s push up infrastructure. Let’s have land acquisition. Let’s have big development projects and we’re seeing the risk of eviction really looming. And, you know, a lot of people are now going to lose their homes at a time when we should be investing in housing. And what they’re finding is that the government telling us that we have no money. And so I think, you know, things like lockdowns things like lack of funding, excuses like economic recovery can not be accepted as excuses for not investing in adequate housing.


Mary Rowe [00:18:14] You know, we had we started these sessions in April, late April. And one of the first ones we had was a concern about what somebody described as vulture capital that I know that actually Leilani exposes in The Shift. But is it going to be exacerbated now, as you’re suggesting? And maybe in India, where there’s a big development pressure, there’ll be lots of public support for spending, too, because it creates jobs. The question is, what are we building as we create those jobs? I guess that’s a question that we’re going to have to fundamentally talk about. And I got to say, I just love your urbanism and rural are not distinct binaries. We pull a little soundbites from these things and post later. And I’m hoping that my colleagues will choose that as one of them, because we try to say that at the Canadian Urban Institute, too. What happens in cities actually benefits all sorts of other communities, because whether it’s access to housing or whether it’s access to to digital services or all these things that we have, cities have to lead on a lot of these things. But it doesn’t mean that one excludes the other. Is that at the expense of the other? And I know that India struggles with this, too, because you’re a highly urbanized country like we are in Canada.


Mary Rowe [00:19:18] OK, Paula, we’re coming to you have to say it again. I’m sorry. Say it again.


Shivani Chaudhry [00:19:25] We still have more rural. We have about 70 percent of the population still rural.


Mary Rowe [00:19:30] Oh, I see. So you’re actually that you’re almost a mirror opposite of us. We are. Canada is about eighty three percent urban. And you’re saying you’re 70 percent rural.


Shivani Chaudhry [00:19:39] Yeah. And a lot of people have moved back. You know, this is reverse migration because of the loss of jobs in urban areas. So the investment in rural areas is really critical and the need for rural housing and rural land rights is really important right now.


Mary Rowe [00:19:53] I see. OK, well, that’s. Thank you for. Thank you for correcting me. All right. I think that’s important for us to know. OK, Paula, let’s hear from you in Lisbon where it’s I hope I’ve got the time right. I think it’s the end of the workday there, although it’s a day now. We all work all the time. So who knows whether it’s the end of the workday. But we’ve been watching with great interest, as Lisbon has decided not to allow Airbnb or to have different kinds of regulations on short term rental, which is, I think, looked on by many with great admiration. That that’s a bold thing you’ve done. You’re a local councilor there. I think of me. So tell us what you’ve been experiencing, what you’ve been seeing.


Paula C. Marques [00:20:29] So hi, everybody. Thank you for the invitation. I’m deputy mayor for housing and local development for the people that know a lot about Lisbon. We are a city capital city in the country and we have more or less half a million people living in Lisbon. But the metropolitan area of Lisbon that we have more or less 3.1 Million people living in the other cities in the metropolitan area. So the government of the city is in fact, I would say, though, official boundaries is almost 100,000 square meters. But in fact, these are only administrative boundaries because people do work outside. Living in Lisbon and work in the other cities and the opposite movement also. So. Well, I don’t like to use the word opportunity when we’re talking about general pandemic situation and the sanitary, and economic and social crisis. We are living and experiencing.


Paula C. Marques [00:22:03] But in fact, it’s what’s what Mary was saying it with what what we what we learn about the pandemic situation that we are still living.


Paula C. Marques [00:22:14] I think we are going to live for for for quite a period in our lives and mostly about what the social transformation and the social clash that I think we will have. Because in Portugal, what we have been so specific in a European area is Lisbon. What we have been seeing is that it’s really hard to be confined, to be regarded in our home.


[00:22:51] If we don’t have a proper home, but also if we don’t have a home. And also if we cannot stop working. That’s something that it’s been really hard for us to do to deal with it. It’s that most of us, most of the population could stay at home with all the device that we have nowadays. All the technology. But there are lots of people that cannot stay at home. So if they don’t go to work, they will not be able to support their families to pay their rent. And also because the city needs to to to stay in shape and to work.


Paula C. Marques [00:23:37] So what do we what the story is, is that it’s not it’s not something it’s not discovering. It’s the fact is that this COVID situation, it’s not democratic. It doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. I think we are all in the same storm, but it’s not the same kind of ship we are in. And, you know, people that have precarious labor situations, people that are not in a legal situation in the country, and they still might be there to still work if they don’t have a proper house. All these things are related. So it’s not it’s what it’s not only one situation that that affects you more than another one. It’s that it’s a complex situation. So about the COVID situation and about how are we are we are dealing with it in the first in the first days in the emergency.


Paula C. Marques [00:24:42] We have different stages if you want. We have we in the emergency stage that we are we had the obligation, it was mandatory to stay home and the municipality did with the local organizations. We had several parishes. And with social movements, we organized help on the emergency front, if you want on, supporting health care.


Paula C. Marques [00:25:13] With the health care system, to, to make the connection between people that were in their homes and with the social and the health care system, but also providing food.


Paula C. Marques [00:25:26] It was the first thing that people could not go out. People we didn’t want people to go out. So. And also because we wanted to do so civilized people, that the ones that could stay at home should stay at home because there were other peoples that could not stay at home.


Paula C. Marques [00:25:43] So we had to provide 50 this public space safety, public transportations for people that the ones that could not stop could have more safety nets and more tranquility if you want the possible tranquility on the on their movements around the city. But also because we have a lot of layoffs. We have a lot of people unemployed already. So when you look about your family balance and you need, you know, how much do you spend in the supermarket, how much we spend in your in your pharmacy, how much you spend in your in your rent. We wanted to provide some tranquility to the families in the first to the fifteen two or three weeks, so we organized this public support. We in the municipality all the public housing had their rents suspended.


Paula C. Marques [00:26:54] So we suspended all the payments with we suspended that also all the payments on the rents of small commercial business in the neighborhoods.


Paula C. Marques [00:27:09] In fact, if we don’t do it, if we didn’t do it, it would be an extra an extra concern to either to families, either to small, specifically to small business and it is different if you have a big business or if you have a small business in the in the neighborhood, that is, in fact, the support of your own family.


Paula C. Marques [00:27:31] So there was sort of some emergency measures either in the social level and economic level that we we we decided to do.


Paula C. Marques [00:27:43] But in fact, we have already a housing crisis in Lisbon. With the touristification, with the speculation on on the on the real estate, on the short rental boom that we had. So we started to do a stop in the Airbn before the pandemic situation. Yes, we started to regulate the sector and also to to create red lines and red zones where we could not we didn’t allow it.


Paula C. Marques [00:28:19] And we are not going to allow more Airbnb. We were already start to do it. And I think we now we really need to do continue. I mean, design these track if you want, because.


Paula C. Marques [00:28:37] If we don’t learn how to stop, I think you you talked about vulture capital. I think it will be really hard from now on. It was hard and it will be harder from now on because if we we were sitting on very, very offensive with with the high capital interventions, with high capital, the developers in the city. I’m not, I’m not  convinced that the it will be a very, very structural changing in the cities.


Paula C. Marques [00:29:27] And I’m really afraid that if we don’t create a front, you know, on defending the city and on defending the speicifically, the more vulnerable people, we will have a very, very offensive strike on trying to hold the, to capture all the value that we can we can invest in public in public interventions. I think there will be a very strong lobby not to do that way and to become but to return to what was the normal thing that we had, the normal reality that we had that was not already normal. And we will have a gap on social on our social issue, if you want, in the city. So now. Lisbon is going, it’s on the the track on regulating the Airbnb. We are. We are in a track also to provide more public houses to regulate the market. But in my point of view, we need more.


Paula C. Marques [00:30:42] And I think we should lead the discussion that we’re having, a political discussion that we’re having in the city is about to regulate, how can we regulate the markets further on the regulation of the housing market. Because, in fact, only with public intervention and only with the stop on Airbnb, I think it’s not enough. So we need to go further on this general approach with this first intervention.


Mary Rowe [00:31:15] Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. And it’s interesting for us just to listen to what you’ve done and what I want to come back to talking with everyone about is whether adopting a human rights approach to housing. Has that strengthened your capacity to actually take these actions and do these things? So let me start with Michel. Michel, my understanding is Canada did has declared housing a human right. Tell me how, why, why, why did Canada do that? And do you think it’s being effective? Is it actually moving the needle for us on these issues?


Michel Tremblay [00:31:42] So thank you, Mary. So I’ll just introduce myself first, Michel Tremblay. I’m senior vice president, policy and innovation at CMHC. Which is Canada’s it’s a Crown Corporation, but it’s Canada’s national housing agency joining you from Ottawa on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnabeg, people. Always a pleasure to join. It’s great to see people like Brennan so dedicated to wake up as early as possible. I know we’ll certainly let the dog making noise that go by. I think it’s we’re all living through different realities as we work work through our COVID. Just to speak a little bit about the Canadian experience. Obviously, Canada’s a huge geography, so reopening of economies and so forth happened at different times. And we’re actually I, I hesitate to say that, that we’re done. Obviously, some, some provinces have reopened more than others, and even within certain provinces have reopened more than others. But we’ve already seen some reoccurrence of the pandemic. So we’ve got to be careful there to cry any victory anywhere. I think that’s true across the country, like like every panelist has mentioned so far, we’ve certainly seen the more vulnerable people in Canada more affected than others. Getting access to housing, there was already barriers for people, the more vulnerable people that we’ve mentioned Indigenous, Mary, in your opening remark, Indigenous people, women and children and but also people in COVID fleeing, fleeing family violence has been an issue, obviously. And obviously, nobody’s more vulnerable than than homeless people who don’t have a sanctuary to go home to and protect themselves. The pandemic, as I mentioned, this existed before. The pandemic has just accentuated or deepened these inequities. And I got to say that I was talking to Leilani about this earlier on before the panel, when we did our public consultation. I think it was in 2018 on a human rights approach to housing. One of the things that united Canadians across the country and for those who know Canada, it’s not always easy to unite the whole country, they have different views, obviously, across the country. Is that the belief by Canadians that every Canadian deserved the dignity of a home. And so the government responded just about a little over a year ago now with the National Housing Strategy Act, which basically, as you mentioned, Mary, recognized the right to adequate housing as a fundamental human right as it is recognized and outlined in the International Covenant of Economic and Social and Cultural Right. And what that does is the National Housing Strategy first speaks as that housing is a, you know, inherent to somebody’s dignity, but also to building inclusive communities, sustainable communities. And it does a couple of things that I think will help us as we try to get out of this crisis. The first thing is it maintains the government, the federal government’s commitment to housing over the long term. So for those of you who have followed Canada, the federal government has been in and out of housing depending on the situation. But were significantly out since the 90s. And so with the national housing strategy in 2017 indicated that they were coming back in and in 2019, when the National Housing Strategy Act came about, it basically kind of solidified it through an act that the federal government was committed to staying it, recognizing obviously, again, that housing is so important to everything else in society. And a couple of things that it does. Is it also ensures accountability and mechanism for greater involvement of people with lived experience in housing decisions, trying to amplify really the voice of the more marginalized people in Canada, trying to shine a light on on some of the systemic issues that Brennan mentioned, how, you know, when government came together during the pandemic, they were able to put a lot of money in in Canada. I must say, did put a lot of money and so did the provinces and municipalities in trying to respond to the crisis. Now, obviously, this, the question is, is what happens when these temporary measures end? And so what’s the next step after that is what we’re looking at and hopefully taking the approach of a right to housing will, will,  think it was Shivani, she talked about economic recovery. And where do you put your your money as you’re trying to recover as a country as as municipalities and provinces. And hopefully that’s that’s that’s taken into account as we try to recover as a country. So I’ll stop there, Mary. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question, but I’ll stop there.


Mary Rowe [00:36:54] Michel, I guess that’s the question I’m going to go to Leilani, but do you think that’s, in fact, strengthened it? Because here’s we are all acknowledging the group of us that this has been. We’ve all known this problem for decades and we haven’t, for whatever reason, been able to actually fundamentally address it, even though I think each one of you will tell me, you know, what needs to happen. So I guess the strategic question to you, Leilani is you’re the campaigner for right to housing around the world. You’re making the case that if municipal municipal governments or provincial and state governments or federal governments somehow embrace and endorse the right to housing, it’s going to give us a path out.


Mary Rowe [00:37:31] Is that the case? What do you think?


Leilani Farha [00:37:32] Yeah, I mean, it’s not just about giving us a path out. It’s about laying the necessary foundation for long term recovery, long term ability to deal with the next pandemic, the next crisis, long term ability to push back against vulture funds, et cetera. So, I’ll get into it a little bit more. I just do want to introduce myself. I am Leilani Farha. I am the Global Director of The Shift, a new global movement that’s really focused on the right to housing and really trying to push back on the Uber and over commodification of housing. I was the U.N. Special Rapporteur for six years between 2014 and 2020. I am also on Algonquin Territory. I actually live right near what’s called the Ottawa River, used to be called the Kitchissippi. And the Kitchissippi was something that brought together the Anishnabeg peoples. It was a meeting place, a place of a spiritual place, a place of fishing. It was, as I said, a meeting ground. Now, the Ottawa River and right where I live separates out as a result of colonial forces, Anglo and French Canadians. So I actually the river now separates Quebec and Ontario, two provinces. We’re separated by language. We’re separated by religion. And so right at my doorstep, I kind of live as I walk my dog every morning along the river. I live this reality. This colonial reality. In any event, you know, the the the the benefit of being the last speaker in the formal sense. And also the drag about it is there’s a lot to try to pick up the pieces to pick up. But so I’m just going to say a few things. I agree that that the the virus and COVID-19 is not an opportunity for anything. And, it’s the wrong word. What I thought when when it first hit, when I heard there was this oh, my God, it is a global pandemic. And then the World Health Organization and governments around the world, most governments around the world imposed one prescription. Stay home. Wash your hands and physical distance. That was the response. For me, it was clear. This isn’t an opportunity. There was a necessity. There was a requirement. And the requirement was to ensure that every single person, every single person worldwide, rich or poor, had access to an adequate home. Period.


Leilani Farha [00:40:19] That is the necessity. That’s the health policy that every government has embraced except Sweden. So that is the policy. For me, it wasn’t an opportunity. It’s mandated. And yet there’s been, in my opinion, a real failure. And so the question becomes. I think it’s quite interesting, so so Brennan suggested in a way, the failure previously was lack of political will and where we’ve seen some successes. It’s been political will. I, I query that. I actually think if we could I think it’s right at one level. I think that’s totally right. I think if we dig just like a little bit more, what we’ll see is. That you have a lack of understanding previously that housing is a human right and you have a pandemic that blows open the idea, that without an adequate home, you are in a life and death situation. Period. And that’s what makes housing a human right. That the idea that without a home, you may die. Without an adequate home, you may die.


Leilani Farha [00:41:36] That’s the essential aspect of how.


Mary Rowe [00:41:39] Right to life the right is to a safe life. And by not having a home.


Leilani Farha [00:41:43] That’s right. That’s right. And so, so, so. So when governments have have sort of seen that and been startled by that. Oh, the pandemic has startled governments. Oh, shit.


Leilani Farha [00:41:57] One homeless person who gets coronavirus could decimate my entire country city population.


Leilani Farha [00:42:07] Right. It just takes one because of the exponential growth. So it was that that that alarmed governments, I think. And then they move. But what do they do? They move, as Shivani has said, and to some degree Paula from the other side. They move in a way that isn’t actually commensurate with housing as a human right. So they put in place these emergency things. And I like let’s face it. Emergency measures were necessary because we’re trying to save lives. So they run and they do these emergency measures. And now we’re at this place. And this is what Michel was. I’m trying to pull everyone in. This is where Michel took us. Now, where to think, OK? What are we going to do on a long term basis? And the human rights approach, and that’s where I started and that’s where Mary took me. The human rights approach allows us to lay some groundwork to figure out, OK, long term, not quick fixes. How are we going to ensure our entire populations have access to adequate housing and ensure that some lives don’t matter more than others? Because a system that allows for homelessness to continue, that allows for inadequate housing to continue the pandemic, shows us that a system that allows for that values some lives over other lives. And we can’t have that. I’m going to rest there.


Mary Rowe [00:43:35] You’re all so eloquent on these things. And I can see on the chat that people are really appreciating what you’re saying. You know, we again, we have hundreds on these broadcasts and not all of you go into the chat. And I just want you to know you’re missing something because there’s a whole parallel universe over there on that chat. People raise questions, they answer each other’s questions and they develop a whole community. So if you’re shy and you want to listen passively, fine, that’s good. Make your sandwich, enjoy it, but also encourage people to go on the chat. You’ll learn lots from the chat as well. Shivani, you’re getting questions on the chat about local autonomy and whether municipal governments, whether the national government in India is willing to let local governments have the authority to tackle this. And you can appreciate that here we are at CUI interested in that and Paula described measures that the City of Lisbon is taking. So I’d be interested if Shivani and Brennan could each comment about can this is can municipal governments take the necessary action that they need to to address this? Shivani, can you go first?


Shivani Chaudhry [00:44:33] Yeah, absolutely. I think that is the only way forward right now. And I think, again, the pandemic has shown us that the the failures have been because of the lack of Central State. Mean, just as you know, one size doesn’t fit all countries, it’s even within within the same country, every city, every municipality, every village has its own requirements. So I think, you know, having the local government, state control is really important, not just our decision making, but also budgets. And I think that’s why we need to have local financing need. We have ways to get public finances used for these projects. I mean, there’s a lot of public money out there that gets misspent because people are not controlling the decisions over that money, I think, you know, making budgeting more participatory, allowing local governments to make decisions, I think is is the way forward. And that’s why you can have you know, what we really advocate for is the housing continuum. So you need those emergency shelters as Leilani rightly said, to prevent people from dying. But those are not the long term solution. Permanent, adequate housing is the solution. So along the continuum, there are people with different needs. But I think social housing, social rental housing, these are areas that public money needs to be invested. And I think this this growing movement for the right housing, no evictions. You know, we’re seeing people coming together. We’re seeing people on the streets. And I think that’s what’s really encouraging that people are understanding. And I think we need to get those voices drawn into reality.


Mary Rowe [00:46:05] And Shivani, do you are you do you see who. Who do you think needs to drive this agenda?


Mary Rowe [00:46:11] Is it activists? Is it the national government? Is it local governments? Is it who do you think drives it?


Shivani Chaudhry [00:46:18] I think there has to be a coordinated effort. One group can’t do it, but I think the central government needs to understand and let go a bit, of controlling. And also to allocate budgets, because a lot of money is raised centrally. But I think the city governments and local governments need to step up much more. And I think with people’s support, I think it can happen. It has to happen at all levels. There’s not a lot of coordinated strategy. And that’s why the human rights strategy and I think Leilani’s report on this issue is really important now for us local governments, state governments, national governments to look at how do you develop a rights  based strategy, because experience shows us that it can work.


Mary Rowe [00:47:01] And we need models for that, don’t we? I know Paula, you’re dying to get in because you’re a local councilor, you want to talk about cities. But I want to go to Brennan first only because I suggested and I’m trying to keep him awake over there. So, Brennan, can you give us a perspective on this in terms of at what level do you think the leadership should happen?


[00:47:20] Kia oro. Again, thanks for the interesting conversation. I blamed the dog for the rustling, but actually I’ve discovered that this is a pick up microphone on my strap, so I’ll keep it away from my clothes and that should be good. So just briefly on the local government question, it’s really interesting in New Zealand, I don’t know anything about anywhere else in the world. We don’t have a particularly enabling legislative regime for housing, for local government at the local government level. That’s actually the wrong word, though, because in our two major city, at two of our major cities in Wellington, there was an express political decision to remain involved in housing. The only just previous mayor of Wellington was very clear that it was a priority of his. He took Wellington City Council into redeveloping inner city existing inner-city buildings for accommodation for how this is actually for housing, not just as shelters or anything like that, but actually as housing, public housing. Whereas in Auckland. And this is this is simply the the wash up of the neo liberal changes of the early 90s, late 90s and the the. And interestingly, too late. Sorry, I’ll finish off in Auckland. We’ve had local government pull out and pull out and pull out of housing. And to the point where we have very little public housing left.


Mary Rowe [00:48:52] What would you suggest? You want them back in?


Brennan Rigby [00:48:56] Absolutely. I mean, you know, there’s no question that, you know, I think just from a simple revenue perspective, we do have. So and the idea of local revenue being used for the best possible local outcomes, which is what revenue should be used for. I think there’s been a bit of a blind spot for housing for the last 20 years. And I think there’s also been and it goes to The Shift and and the financialization point, there’s been ever increasing pressure on local government elected members to be fiscally responsible, which, you know, we’ve been quite happy to read for 25 or 30 years as meaning don’t get involved in assets, don’t hold assets, don’t get stuck doing maintenance on things because it’s gonna cost money.


Brennan Rigby [00:49:45] And so the fiscally responsible but turns out to be let’s not do housing. And ironically, because, of course, our housing market, like most other housing markets in the world, you know, sort of doubles in value every eight to 22 years. So, you know, to call that to call being out of housing fiscally responsible is also kind of weird. But I just want to make one other point, if that’s okay, Mary. And I apologize for calling you Caroline earlier, because I. Time’s short. So, listen, I the thing I wanted to say, he was about human rights. And we’ve already been asked in the very first question on the chat, what’s the point of talking about human rights? And I just want to contextualize my experience really quickly is that, you know, I grapple with being European and New Zealand. I grapple with my relationship to colonization, to to the idea of pioneers, to the idea of alienation of Indigenous lands. But I think culturally connected to all of those things, actually as capitalism and neo liberalism. And so that’s a part of my it’s actually a part of my genetics. And and to a certain extent, I feel like human rights are, too. And in many ways, human rights are a part of our global historical legal paradigm that comes from the West. I think there’s actually cultural integrity to using human rights as the tool to combat financialization. It’s a meaningful way to to try and address those issues. And I’ll just finish by saying, you know, one of our seminars interviewing the other week and now I’m gonna be out. I remember. I yes, I can remember the point she said yes, even though it’s four o’clock in the morning, she said, because we’re developing guidelines on the right to housing in New Zealand right now, which is fantastic. The Human Rights Commission has stepped up. They’re they’re doing this piece of work. So I’m doing a little bit of engagement. And one of my interviewees said, you know, the risk here is that we fall because the risk here is that we fall back into and needs lens. Where we’re just trying to, we’re just doing what we’ve been doing for 30 years, which is thinking let’s just deliver for the people in the most need. Let’s just let that be a kind of driving efficient Pakeha European lens instead of using the rights lens and they’re very different things.


Brennan Rigby [00:52:15] And I and I just I thought that was a really nice point, which I wanted to focus on.


Mary Rowe [00:52:22] Thanks, Brennan. OK, Paola, Unmute yourself. Let’s hear from a local councilor. How do you see it?


Paula C. Marques [00:52:30] I was just pay attention to the things that people were writing in that in the chat and also bringing up some some things that to Michel, Brennan, Shivani and Leilanani, what’s the word?


Paula C. Marques [00:52:44] What we’re seeing is that, of course, we needed to have quick fixed the emergency measures, of course we need it. We were talking about saving lives. We’re talking about and stop the contagion’s system. So, yes, we did need to do it. And I’m glad we did it. And I’m quite and because we are an international talk. I’m really proud and really glad about what we did either if it was it that the government’s federal government level or municipal level. Yes, I think that we can be proud on what we have done on emergency framework, if you will, if you want. But as Leilani said, the thing is in in Portugal, I’m talking about Portugal. Portugal has two percent of public housing houses. And Lisbon, has seven percent. It’s know it’s it’s it’s a way it’s it’s really way from being enough, from being sufficient, if you want not enough, sufficient. But the thing is that these are the things our revolution, since 1974, all the major constitutional rights in Portugal have base legal framework except housing, except housing, because in fact in the political approach, if it was central government or local governments, was to look at housing not as a right, but in fact as a commodity. So if we woke up too late. Yes, I think we did woke up to late. We approved the lot less here.


Paula C. Marques [00:54:32] We finally approved our right to housing legal framework based framework law.


Paula C. Marques [00:54:43] The last time. Just just makes a glimpse on our public system was seeing that the house, the housing and the social housing. We were very focused on social housing. The concepts, I would say, southern European southern concept of social housing, the social housing provided by the state for very, very vulnerable people. I would not we we didn’t thought about Public housing as a way of having also very I much more equal society or equal social fabric in the cities. So we had the free market. We have the cooperative systems for a middle class. And in fact, the ownership of the property of the houses is for the working off the middle class. And then the state was focused on social housing, on the most vulnerable citizens.


[00:55:56] I think we really have to change a shift. We really have to have this shift is the changing of this mentality.


[00:56:03] The last time we had a national program on housing in Portugal was in the last in the latest 90s. And again, it was on the most vulnerable on the concept of the classical concept of social housing.


[00:56:18] We really have to change it. I’m really an optimist person. If not I wouldn’t be deputy mayor for housing nowadays in Lisbon. Of course we have clash between us. We don’t have the same approach on how to provide housing on how to make public housing in Lisbon. We have more radical movements in Lisbon. I am from a left wing social movement. But the thing is we live in a capitalist system, I woudl rather not, but the thing is what do we do to face it.


Paula C. Marques [00:57:27] To assess what’s not not being again in the situation, that’s because if not, it’s a it’s a cycle situation. Okay, so in turn on in in each 10 years, we have a crisis. In each 10 years, we have a problem because we don’t have enough public houses. We don’t have enough public houses for middle class on the cooperative system. So if we want to change it, even if we have different approaches, more radical, less radical. I think Shivani might have said we have to have a combined front on the defense, on the rights, the human right to housing.


Paula C. Marques [00:58:04] I think the only positive thing that we probably can.


Paula C. Marques [00:58:11] Discovering these pandemic situation on COVID virus is. OK. We’re not talking about the right to housing. We’re talking about the human right to have.


Paula C. Marques [00:58:33] The human rights as the human right to water as a human right as a basic unit.


Paula C. Marques [00:58:44] It’s not to think about the house is about something that is my life. As Leilani said OK if I don’t have a proper house? I will not survive. OK. So I thought this.


Paula C. Marques [00:58:54] If I don’t have a proper work and a solid work, I will not survive. Also so I think is the only positive thing is that it’s good. I hope this can change the mentality on the political approach on housing. And I think the only way to make is, is to change these mentality on what can what to use, what what is the function of the states?


Paula C. Marques [00:59:25] What is the role of the state in these?


Mary Rowe [00:59:28] OK, I am going to we’re going to run out of time. And Michel and Leilani are joining us for subsequent sessions this week there on two days from now. And I just want to remind everyone that we have programing all week. And I really want you to go watch these films, if you can, because it will infuse the lived experience piece of this in terms of people living with homelessness. But it also informs about how local political leaders like Paula have been actually coming to terms with this. So rather than asking Leilani and Michel for last words, because you have another shot two days from now. I’m going to ask Shivani and Brennan just to give us 30 seconds of what you think we should be focusing on. Brennan, you were very poetic there about we’ve got to move from the need to the right lens. Shivani, what would you say would be the focus that you would bring to this discussion in terms of how people should address this to solve it?


Shivani Chaudhry [01:00:21] Yeah, I think we can look at the structural causes of homelessness and inadequate housing because for too long we’ve been looking at Band-Aid approaches, homeless shelters, temporary housing. You know, we have a housing for all scheme. And then, you know, you have a lot of architecture on paper, but not in practice. So I think we need to really look at structural issues of social inequalities of all racial and caste discrimination. Why are people homeless? Why are people living in certain parts of cities, more people living in certain parts of the country? When I look at spatial inequality, you know, income, plus racial inequality, economic inequality. And I think we need to control the market because know, the financialization issue is very important. And the solution cannot be market based. It has to be rights based. And I think that’s something that the United Nations is really stressing, that the COVID-19 recovery has to be human rights based, if it’s market based they’re going to really fall badly, we may not recover ever. So that’s what I would really like to say.


Mary Rowe [01:01:25] Thank you for that.


Mary Rowe [01:01:27] Brennan, what would you say? Last words.


Brennan Rigby [01:01:32] Again, just going back to my interview, because I’m trying to rely on other people’s last words instead of my own.


Brennan Rigby [01:01:37] What one wonderful attendee said, you know, I think what we need to think about is we need to look at look at this problem through the lens of young Maori. Young Indigenous people in Aotearoa. And the question she actually posed was, if I was if I was a young Maori person, would I think I had a secure housing future in New Zealand? There’s a real easy answer to that question, the answer is no. And and, of course, we have this cultural dynamic in New Zealand where many, many, many young Maori in particular take off what we call across the ditch to Australia, where there’s promises of more money and more sunshine and more beaches and more work.


Brennan Rigby [01:02:26] And so that was also a really nice frame just to look through this issue, which was how do we actually change our housing system so that a young Maori person sees a secure housing future? In their own country. And you kind of like, OK, that’s an even bigger challenge than we were thinking of before. But actually it’s the right challenge.


Mary Rowe [01:02:52] Thanks for that. We really appreciate people taking the time to come on with us. And many people assign only an hour, which is why we need to drop off. And just thank everyone just reminding people that we videotape these. And so this recording will be posted. But also, again, this chat today has been rich, rich, rich, with all sorts of ideas and questions and resources. So we will also post the chat. And just remember that tomorrow we’re back with a session with people with lived experience of homelessness. And then the following day, we’re going to tackle specifically what what could a future look like. And that’s where Michel and Leilani will be back with us to talk about what could this actually look like if we put into practice a human rights approach that you folks have really beautifully informed. And then on Thursday, we’re going to be with municipal leaders, including the Mayor of Victoria, to talk about what municipal leaders can do and how can we actually affect some change. So thank you so much for such such thoughtful comments. Everybody wanted this to go on much longer. That’s probably a good sign. And we always say these are the beginnings of conversations, not the end. So thank you for setting us up folks for a really important week on the Right to Home. And we wish you to the rest of the day and go back to bed Brennan with Willow and have a lovely evening, Shivani and Michel and Leilani in Canada today.


[01:04:12] And Paula, from Lisbon. Thanks so much.


Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

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

12:00:59 From Abby S to All panelists : Here from Arkell Ontario (Guelph)
12:01:15 From Canadian Urban Institute : Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:01:29 From Abby S : Here from Arkell Ontario (Guelph)
12:01:50 From tim rourke to All panelists : Okay, here is my big question for the afternoon; what is the point to talking about a right when there is no way to enforce that right? Tr
12:01:56 From Adriana Hurtado Tarazona : Hi from Bogotá, Colombia!
12:01:57 From André Darmanin : Hello from Vaughan
12:02:01 From Canadian Urban Institute : Let us know where you’re tuning in from!
12:02:01 From Pierrette J Cazeau to All panelists : Good Afternoon from Florida USA
12:02:02 From Renuka Satchithananhtan : Hello Everyone! Renuka Satchithananthan, Case Worker and Admin Coordinator at CERA.
12:02:06 From Pam Hadder to All panelists : Hello from Willow Place, Winnipeg ~ Pam
12:02:07 From André Darmanin : Hi again @Abby
12:02:10 From Angie Desmarais to All panelists : Hello from Port Colborne
12:02:16 From Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:02:17 From Alynne Neault to All panelists : Good morning from North Vancouver Island
12:02:22 From Brendon McKay to All panelists : Hello from CMHA Ottawa in Ontario, Canada
12:02:26 From Alex Adams : Hi from Brampton!
12:02:28 From Negin Minaei : Good afternoon, Toronto
12:02:35 From Head Clacio to All panelists : hi from Winnipeg
12:02:40 From Vincent Merola to All panelists : Greeting from Moncton
12:02:40 From Margaret O’Dwyer to All panelists : Cheers from Bayside, New York!
12:02:43 From Kimberley Sproul : Here from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
12:02:46 From Danielle Jones to All panelists : Ottawa!
12:02:46 From Mackenzie Venator : Hello from Fredericton, New Brunswick! (UWaterloo Political Science Student/ Co-Op student at CMHC’s Innovation Division)
12:02:48 From Canadian Urban Institute : Keep the conversation going # right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:02:56 From Abby S : @Andre hey!!!
12:03:02 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola to All panelists : Good Evening from Johannesburg South Africa
12:03:04 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists : Hello Everyone! From Affordable Housing Coalition of York Region @R2HYorkRegion
12:03:08 From Sarah Hunn to All panelists : Hello from Victoria, BC 🙂
12:03:27 From Canadian Urban Institute : #right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:03:31 From Durstyne Farnan to All panelists : Thank you for this opportunity.
12:03:45 From Casuncad Niko : Hello! Joining from Tkaronto. Excited to listen in on the conversation
12:03:56 From Canadian Urban Institute : Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:04:03 From Julieta Perucca : For those of you who have seen PUSH and want to know more, the filmmaker Fredrik Gertten and Leilani Farha, the Global Director of The Shift have started a Podcast! You can listen here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0Swm2H6r94CBGgfXYa2WKz?si=UFVw802FSIWuSZHo4geTsw
12:04:43 From Abby S : Can you send the link to the other movie Mary just mentioned? I can’t find it on canurb
12:05:40 From Lisa Helps to All panelists : The two films are listed here: https://canurb.org/right-to-home/
12:05:49 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff : Today’s panelists from across the globe include:

Shivani Chaudhry from India: https://twitter.com/shivani_chdhry

Leilani Farha from Canada: https://twitter.com/leilanifarha

Michel Tremblay from Canada: https://twitter.com/CMHC_ca

Brennan Rigby from New Zealand: https://twitter.com/shiftaotearoa

Paula C. Marques from Portugal: https://www.facebook.com/Cidad%C3%A3os-por-Lisboa-77670111355
12:05:59 From Lisa Helps to All panelists : Mary means the City of Victoria (rather than the City of Vancouver! 🙂 as a partner.
12:06:26 From Canadian Urban Institute : You can find links to the films here: https://canurb.org/right-to-home/
12:06:28 From Jennifer Bisley to All panelists : Hello from Victoria, BC.
12:06:31 From Lisa Helps to All panelists : Mayor Helps from Victoria tuning in from Lekwungen Territory, City of Victoria.
12:07:08 From Canadian Urban Institute to Lisa Helps and all panelists : HI, Mayor Helps! Please change your settings to all panelists and attendees if you would like to reach the attendees as well.
12:07:15 From Abby S : Thank you @canurb
12:07:20 From Alynne Neault : Aboriginal Outreach Housing worker – Campbell River BC – happy to be here
12:07:21 From Lisa Helps to All panelists : Right!
12:08:17 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff : Welcome all! Please change your chat setting to “All panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:08:26 From Lisa Helps : Hi all. Mayor Helps here from Lekwungen Territory, City of Victoria. Mary means City of Victoria as a partner (as opposed to City of Victoria). We’re happy to support this important national conversation.
12:08:40 From Laurel Davies Snyder : Hello from Stratford, ON.
12:08:45 From Lisa Helps : NB as opposed to City of Vancouver 🙂
12:09:41 From Chris Bell : Greetings from Calgary, Alberta! =)
12:10:48 From Alison James to All panelists : Also joining from Victoria, morning all.
12:10:51 From Carolyn Whitzman : Thanks CUI for keeping the momentum going on the Right to Housing! listening from the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation i.e. Ottawa.
12:11:21 From Lisa Helps : Thanks Mary 🙂
12:11:24 From Abby S : We all KNOW Lisa Helps!!!! and where she is from!
12:11:57 From Kai Okazaki to All panelists : Hello all, Kai Okazaki from City of Powell River, qathet Regional District, and Tla’amin Nation.
12:12:08 From Daniel LeBlanc to All panelists : Daniel from NGO Working Group on Homelessness in New York and at the UN
12:12:26 From Kaitlin Schwan to All panelists : Mayor Helps you are an amazing Right to Housing leader!!!
12:12:42 From André Darmanin : What a global cast!
12:12:48 From Canadian Urban Institute to Brennan Rigby(Privately) : HI ,Brennan! I think there is a little rustling coming from your mic when you speak. How tricky would it be for you to start using the mic from your device and not use your headset?
12:13:03 From Mary W Rowe to Lisa Helps and all panelists : sorry about that
12:13:29 From Canadian Urban Institute to Brennan Rigby(Privately) : If it’s not easy, no problem. we can still hear you, it’s just some noise coming with it.
12:13:35 From Callum Maguire : Hello from Comox BC
12:14:08 From George Tchanturia to All panelists : Hello, from Tbilisi, Georgia
12:14:08 From Brennan Rigby to Canadian Urban Institute(Privately) : I think I can limit that. I need to keep the headphones on or everyone in the house here will wake up 🙂
12:14:28 From Canadian Urban Institute to Brennan Rigby(Privately) : Ah! Of course! No problem. 🙂
12:16:24 From Lisa Helps to All panelists : No worries! As you say, it happens 😉
12:16:42 From Negin Minaei : Poor indoor air quality is a global problem, you can see it in rentals and basements in Toronto too.
12:19:17 From Negin Minaei : People in rentals in Toronto live with indoor temperature of 30 degrees and humidity of 60 and over, hotter than outside as often they don’t have AC and yet the general approach in construction industry is designing for cold seasons rather than looking at the long-term impacts of climate change and warming up the planet and cities.
12:19:29 From Ashley Michell to All panelists : Indigenous Housing Support Worker- Smithers B.C. – Thank you for having me, and I am very grateful to be here.
12:21:34 From George Tchanturia to All panelists : unfortunately, in my city, in Tbilisi the quality of air is poor outdoor as well
12:21:50 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.
12:24:28 From Tracy Tang : Indro Bhattacharyya


Working on our advocacy strategy for improving affordability of housing here at the Region of Peel here in Ontario, Canada.
12:25:36 From André Darmanin : @tracy just noticed that a couple of weeks ago through a couple of my Peel colleagues. Kudos!
12:26:04 From Ashley Michell : Indigenous Housing Support Worker- Smithers B.C. – Thank you for having me, and I am very grateful to be here.
12:26:08 From Pat Petrala to All panelists : Greetings from White Rock/S. Surrey, BC modest homeless in Peninsula, yet need to have more than mere extreme weather shelter. Hope to secure longer term warp around site in light/industrial commercial space as businesses fold from covid. Anticipate more homeless in coming years. Business case understood yet NIMBY public fears not so good.
12:26:30 From André Darmanin : COVID has exacerbated housing, social and racial inequities.
12:29:12 From Margaret O’Dwyer to All panelists : What happens when global moratoriums on evictions expire? Even with stiumulus monies, people are getting further behind. This could be major!
12:29:48 From Canadian Urban Institute : Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:30:38 From Alynne Neault : Airbnb has contributed to the shortage of housing stock in my city(currently at a 0.4% vacancy rate). It’s also contributed to the escalating prices of rental stock.
12:31:01 From Amarpreet Guliani : This question is for Shivani. India has a complete lack of urban planning and governance at the municipal level. As a result, the cities are unable to create affordable housing and provide the citizens with basic necessities of life. Is the central government taking initiatives to make municipal governments more autonomous?
12:32:55 From Tracy Tang : Amarpreet, for what its worth I think it may depend on the state and compliance level. in Kolkata they have plenty of urban planning through the corporation, even public housing remnants like Bow Barracks. The question is how effective it is, and whether the actors in the market are held to account.
12:34:02 From André Darmanin : @alynne Which city?
12:37:16 From Pam Hadder : The lack of safe, affordable social housing was a huge issue in our city (Winnipeg, Canada) prior to COVID – agree with panelists how pandemic has cast light on existing issues – appreciate remarks about the homeless not having a place to “stay home, stay safe” – also much of our province’s supports are in an online format, appealing to and accessible to working, wealthier, educated populations – how do the most vulnerable, the poor, the homeless know about what is happening, how to get support etc. – also elderly that do not necessarily use or have access to technology (?) (Pam – Willow Place, family violence centre)
12:38:19 From André Darmanin : Yes, @Michel, we need more people involved in policy and ops with lived experiences in housing. (ahem). Although I’m 20+ years removed from (TCHC) social housing, it is a situation I’m experienced in.
12:38:20 From Alynne Neault : @andre – Campbell River BC
12:38:37 From Haseena Manek : To learn more about Leilani Farha’s work and The Shift, head to maketheshift.org
12:38:40 From Haseena Manek : Also, check out her new podcast with the Director of Push: https://open.spotify.com/show/0Swm2H6r94CBGgfXYa2WKz?si=UFVw802FSIWuSZHo4geTsw
12:39:33 From Neelu Mehta : The Union Cabinet Chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has given its approval for developing affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs) for urban migrants/poor as a sub-scheme under Pradhan MantriAwasYojana-Urban(PPMAY-U)
12:40:29 From André Darmanin : @alynne. Thanks! 0.4% vacancy rate is really bad. Airbnb has taken a toll on many cities, but COVID has forced these hosts to put their properties/rooms on the rental market.
12:41:30 From Alynne Neault : @andre – thankfully yes, but unfortunately, they are being listed at market pricing which is unaffordable in my community. I have seen rents increase (on average) 40% in the past 12 months
12:42:35 From André Darmanin : @alynne You would think that more housing, the market would reflect the downward pressure on prices. Sadly, not so.
12:42:54 From OAA ConEd to All panelists : Great presentation
12:43:29 From Amarpreet Guliani : Cities in Canada, Edmonton being the first major municipality, have started to eliminate parking minimums as on-site parking is expensive and the renters or owners have to pay for the cost.
12:44:24 From OAA ConEd to All panelists : Just a quick comment if that’s okay. In the future, I think it would be of immense benefit for the audience if the key points could be on a PowerPoint presentation. Thank you!
12:44:24 From Cory Weagant to All panelists : that was the most authentic she’s not missing anything
12:44:30 From Cory Weagant to All panelists : Amen
12:46:13 From Rahul Mehta : Hello from Mississauga, ON! Thank you so much to the panel, particularly Leilani for your movement and clarity in the doc, “Push”. Our housing prices continue to rise out of control, with young people leaving in droves, even as job opportunities increase. Every form of health – human, natural systems, climate, economic, etc, depends on housing as a right, delivered, affordable, for all.
12:47:02 From Tracy Tang : @amarpreet, is that just tinkering at the edges of affordability? residents can’t necessarily rely on transit to get to work, learn, live, and play. how much does maintaining parking add to operating costs over the long-term after that initial investment upfront for construction and land acquisition?
12:47:14 From Marg Rose : As we ponder solutions, might it be helpful to propose different solutions, for the various LEVELS of homelessness in the housing policies, as one step? Dr Bernie Pauly articulated four levels here (see page 6) in a (sadly) 2013 report to the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness: https://victoriahomelessness.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/GVCEH_ReportHousingSupports_FINAL.pdf
12:47:15 From David Crenna : It appears we need a rapid acquisition program within the existing under-occupied stock, of which there are about 1 million units sitting there today. New social housing has a role, but takes far too long to develop and occupy!
12:47:26 From Devyn Hanna : @andre and @alynne Not to mention these former Airbnb’s that are going up for rent currently are being put on the market for 6 month rentals. What happens after 6 months and Covid is no longer a threat to tourism and airbnb.
12:47:33 From Brian MacLean to All panelists : Another imperative right now is to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings including all forms of housing by retrofitting existing buildings to reduce their use of energy from fossil fuels. That imperative seems in tension with the need to finance & build more low-cost housing to guarantee everyone a home.
12:48:14 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists : In Canada we have a National housing strategy but it is not a program of direct investment in building affordable and social housing as we had in the 90’s. Many people think we have a strategy now so we’re good but the funding is a drop in the bucket compared to the role our federal govt once had in building housing. How do we move the federal govt to accept this bigger responsibility and commitment?
12:48:15 From André Darmanin : Agreed @devyn. That is the million dollar question.
12:49:25 From Marko Curuvija : My organization is doing public engagement work all across the community here in Victoria advocating for permanent housing solutions (for the homeless). There is a huge sentiment of NIMBYism that creates an added barrier implementing permanent housing solutions. We also see a lot of lower level govts (ie municipal) refer upwardly to the provincial and federal govt for funding solutions instead of taking more direct action.
12:49:46 From André Darmanin : VC money continuing to seep into the startups with no understanding of the social atmosphere is a problem. Governments have to continue to regulate and lead.
12:49:59 From Neelu Mehta : For India : Affordable Rental Housing Complexes…schemed was announced by the Hon’ble Finance Minister on 14 May, 202. This scheme seeks to full fill the vison of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat.
12:50:04 From Alynne Neault : @devyn – exactly! My clients are all Indigenous which brings another dimension to the housing problems. Our city has done nothing to accommodate our unsheltered folks during the pandemic.
12:50:25 From Canadian Urban Institute : Keep the conversation going #right2housing #citytalk @canurb
12:51:00 From Marko Curuvija : My Question – Are there any examples globally of municipal govts. that have addressed homelessness both in housing and in getting public buy in (stigma)?
12:51:05 From David Crenna : It’s quite true that the regulatory barriers are the main ones that exist… They can be changed with the stroke of a pen, but lots of resistance to making that stroke…
12:51:32 From Marko Curuvija : Or even grassroots, community initiatives that are coordinated across multiple sectors
12:51:43 From Lisa Moffatt : I’d appreciate if panelists have thoughts on housing authorities who value housing based on consumer price index rather than the market.
12:52:00 From Chris Bell : In relation to Mary’s questions — what advice do folks have from community advocates, when it comes to navigating the opportunities and pitfalls of multi-level advocacy? Opportunities to advance the right to housing don’t seem come up in any straightforward way (j.e. a local council might be interested in the right to housing, while a provincial/subnational government might not be). Policy windows can open and close quickly, and the relationships between levels of government are often complex and opaque, making it hard to strategize.
12:52:44 From Cory Weagant to All panelists : I’m a person with lived experience with homelessness and know stigma first hand I know work with Marko and his organization The Existence Project to tell my story and experience with homelessness, housing and stigma around that. I feel involving people with lived experience is going to really have a different effect on how things operate and from that things can improve but it’s hard to fix something by guessing. instead of involving the voices of people with loved experience. I want to use my experience to empower others
12:53:04 From Cory Weagant to All panelists : now work*
12:53:11 From Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:53:36 From Cory Weagant to All panelists : lived **
12:55:09 From Tracy Tang : @chris an alternative approach could be to advocate to embed the principles through changing ongoing operational housing programs and initiatives non which they are focused?
12:55:18 From Canadian Urban Institute : What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3g5sJiO
12:55:26 From Tracy Tang : on, not non*
12:56:15 From Nicole Aylward to All panelists : I love the point Brennan just made! When we focus on those that are in the MOST need we effectively push people toward more desperate situations. Everyone has a right support when in need. Thanks for that
12:56:26 From André Darmanin : @chris. Like Michel stated, there needs to be more people working with lived experiences in the housing area. They, along with the appropriate experience, would have a much better understanding of housing policy and operations.
12:57:57 From Amarpreet Guliani : The City of Regina recently removed separation distance and maximum number of residents per unit requirements for all forms of residential care and group homes from its Zoning Bylaw to ensure that such restrictions do not violate the Charter and human rights.
12:58:32 From Brennan Rigby : Thanks Nicole. Leilani surfaced while she was here that under the ‘needs’ model, state housing tenants are under constant pressure to PROVE how hard their lives are! How little money they have… how many rentals they have looked at and been refused…
12:58:42 From Pam Hadder : Re: Brennan, appreciate the rights-based/human rights-based focus – in the family violence prevention sector where I work, there has been inadequate support to truly address the roots of violence and abuse. We know that family violence is a significant factor in homelessness. These “issues” of safety, housing, essentials for healthy life are all connected and are captured within human rights-based approaches. Prior to COVID our sector was already stretched to its limits, and with additional social pressures on people and the likelihood that we will be navigating health safety re: COVID for some time still, a human rights-based housing strategy is essential.
12:59:07 From Kris Leaman to All panelists : @Marko. On your comment on NIMBYism, is this reinforced by processes focussed on planning and design rather than community outcomes including social outcomes (opportunity costs and benefits)?
12:59:08 From Julieta Perucca : Hi Amarpeet, that is really interesting! The Shift and CUI are working with local governments to secure the right to housing in Canadian cities everywhere. We would love to hear more of what Regina is doing!
12:59:09 From André Darmanin : @amarpreet I don’t know about now, but while I worked with Brampton, I pushed for the removal of separation distances for group homes because it was a human rights issue.
12:59:17 From André Darmanin : It didn’t happen
12:59:51 From Pat Petrala to All panelists : A table of KEY concepts to consistently help frame the grassroots work/messages for advocacy and arguments taken
Select and pressure to each layer of decision makers;
So are affected by stories / values; others financial pro/con; business case;
Frugal health case; environmental case; parallels with human right to water etc.
13:00:01 From Julieta Perucca : I’d love to reach out, or if it is easier feel free to reach me at julieta@maketheshift.org!
13:00:46 From Negin Minaei : True, if one doesn’t have a proper work, they can’t have a proper house to live. If one doesn’t have a salaried job, s/he can’t rent a flat in Ontario! They don’t care how much money people have in their accounts, they only asks for payslips.
13:00:50 From Mirella Palermo : @andre Brampton is currently reviewing these policies from a Human Rights perspective
13:01:16 From André Darmanin : @mirella about time
13:01:29 From David Crenna : Have to be more careful about that now! Whole model needs review from health-protection perspective… Where through tecnology, structureal requirements, ventilation, etc.
13:01:48 From Marko Curuvija : dang this was rushed. I appreciated you all getting into focussing a rights based movement, would love to see this lengthened next time with this many guests..
13:02:18 From Leilani Farha to All panelists : I agree with shivani. and human rights based approach doesn’t mean no market based solutions. it means market based solutions must be rights compliant.
13:02:31 From Mirella Palermo : @Marko – agreed
13:02:35 From Leilani Farha : I agree with shivani. and human rights based approach doesn’t mean no market based solutions. it means market based solutions must be rights compliant.
13:03:42 From Paula C Marques : »I agree with shivani. and human rights based approach doesn’t mean no market based solutions. it means market based solutions must be rights compliant.» that´s it Leilani ! Thanks

13:03:44 From Brennan Rigby : Brennan Rigby: Brennan.rigby@communityhousing.org … https://theshiftaotearoa.wordpress.com
13:03:53 From Tracy Tang : so if we wanted one reference document for rights, to what should we look?
13:03:59 From Paula C Marques : so good to particiate!
13:04:11 From Paula C Marques : so good to see you again
13:04:13 From Kimberley Sproul : Thanks to all. I have been very grateful for people sharing their own questions and experiences. Panelists, thank you thank you thank you.
13:04:19 From Ashley Michell : Mesi Chyo (thank you)
13:04:19 From Brennan Rigby : Thank you all!
13:04:27 From George Tchanturia : Thank you very much for interesting panel.
13:04:29 From Julieta Perucca : https://www.make-the-shift.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/A_HRC_43_43_E-2.pdf
13:04:29 From Chris Bell : @ Tracy – https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/43/43
13:04:29 From Rahul Mehta : Thanks everyone! 🙏🏽
13:04:29 From Joelle Lewis to All panelists : thank you!
13:04:30 From Erika Morton : Thank you to all the speakers and organizers!
13:04:30 From Robert Lastman to All panelists : Thanks, really interesting discussion. 🙂
13:04:32 From Neelu Mehta : Thank you so much. Please stay safe and healthy 🙂
13:04:32 From Leilani Farha : Thanks everyone! great convo!
13:04:32 From Pam Hadder : Thanks to all ~ Pam H.
13:04:33 From Callum Maguire : thank you
13:04:34 From Lise Bendrodt to All panelists : thank you
13:04:36 From Bhavik Thakkar : Thank you for a wonderful session!
13:04:37 From Faryal Diwan : Thank you!
13:04:38 From Amarpreet Guliani : Thank you for a wonderful discussion!
13:04:39 From Yvonne Kelly to All panelists : Thanks for your time and brilliance everyone!
13:04:42 From Margaret O’Dwyer to All panelists : Thanks!
13:04:43 From André Darmanin : thanks!
13:04:43 From Shona van Zijll de Jong : thank you!