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"Meet your Colleague" presentation by Phil Brown of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.

"Meet your Colleague" presentation by Phil Brown of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.

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  • Good afternoon everyone. Bonjour a tout le monde. As you heard in the introduction, I’m Bruce Pearce and I’m the President of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association or CHRA. First of all, let me tell you that I think this has been just a fabulous conference, so congratulations to the organizers and especially to all the presenters who made the sessions so informative and engaging throughout the week. I feel like I’ve come away with a lot of knowledge, inspiration, and even more importantly, a lot of new connections to you folks - the practitioners and thinkers from across the country. CHRA recently hosted its 42 nd annual national congress in Quebec City this past June, which brought together housing and homelessness stakeholders from across Canada, so I can appreciate how much goes into putting on a conference of this caliber. And I’d also like to emphasize just how pleased I am to be able to speak with you today, and to be sharing the podium with a really key person in the homelessness sector, Benoit Poirier. So, a big thank you to the organizers for inviting me.
  • I’d like to start by giving you a very brief overview of who CHRA is. Many of you may be familiar with us because you’ve read some of our research or attended a CHRA Annual Congress – perhaps the one we just held in June in Quebec City. But many of you may not know who we are or what we do.   And, importantly, we’ve done a lot of work recently to reach out and to make our tent bigger and I think more meaningful.   CHRA is, simply, a collective voice for the full range of affordable housing and homelessness issues and solutions across Canada.  Like some of the organizations you work for or may be familiar with, CHRA is a membership-based organization.  But what makes us quite unique is that our members come from all areas of the homeless and affordable housing sectors – from non-profit housing providers to municipalities and provincial housing departments to community-based groups focused on homelessness, such as the Community Advisory Board for which I work in St. John’s. Businesses, green-focused groups and other non-profit support service groups who believe that every Canadian – regardless of their challenges – deserves a decent place to call home are also represented in our membership. This is our strength – the diversity of our membership. And we are reaching out to improve services to our current members and to attract new members to support and strengthen our collective voice.   This diversity and the representation across Canada is the reason that CHRA has detailed insight into how the federal government can better meet the broad range of housing needs. I believe it’s what opens the doors to us in the offices of cabinet ministers, federal department officials and also in other leading NGO, like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada.  It allows us to be well suited to influence policy and effect change. For example, when we appeared most recently before the House of Commons Finance Committee as part of their pre-budget deliberations, we spoke on behalf of our members by underscoring, among other things, the value of HPS and asking that it be renewed and enhanced. We stressed that a renewal of HPS and other key federal housing commitments should be made as part of a commitment to a broader approach on housing – with attached dollars - on the part of the federal government. We spoke on behalf of what matters to our members, and we were heard by MPs who knew that we were reflecting the views of organizations and governments from across the country and even those from their own riding. This has an impact when it hits home. We also have a meeting scheduled with Minister Diane Finley in Ottawa next week, and we likewise intend to emphasize these important issues when we speak with her. And, even though many of us feel that the road to generating more robust commitments from the federal government will be a challenging one – and I think there is no doubt about that – we think the stronger and more united the sector is, the greater the chance of success.
  • CHRA is, simply, a collective voice for the full range of affordable housing and homelessness issues and solutions across Canada.  Like some of the organizations you work for or may be familiar with, CHRA is a membership-based organization.  But what makes us quite unique is that our members come from all areas of the homeless and affordable housing sectors – from non-profit housing providers to municipalities and provincial housing departments to community-based groups focused on homelessness, such as the Community Advisory Board for which I work in St. John’s. Businesses, green-focused groups and other non-profit support service groups who believe that every Canadian – regardless of their challenges – deserves a decent place to call home are also represented in our membership. This is our strength – the diversity of our membership. And we are reaching out to improve services to our current members and to attract new members to support and strengthen our collective voice.   This diversity and the representation across Canada is the reason that CHRA has detailed insight into how the federal government can better meet the broad range of housing needs. I believe it’s what opens the doors to us in the offices of cabinet ministers, federal department officials and also in other leading NGO, like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada.  It allows us to be well suited to influence policy and effect change. For example, when we appeared most recently before the House of Commons Finance Committee as part of their pre-budget deliberations, we spoke on behalf of our members by underscoring, among other things, the value of HPS and asking that it be renewed and enhanced. We stressed that a renewal of HPS and other key federal housing commitments should be made as part of a commitment to a broader approach on housing – with attached dollars - on the part of the federal government. We spoke on behalf of what matters to our members, and we were heard by MPs who knew that we were reflecting the views of organizations and governments from across the country and even those from their own riding. This has an impact when it hits home. We also have a meeting scheduled with Minister Diane Finley in Ottawa next week, and we likewise intend to emphasize these important issues when we speak with her. And, even though many of us feel that the road to generating more robust commitments from the federal government will be a challenging one – and I think there is no doubt about that – we think the stronger and more united the sector is, the greater the chance of success.
  • Study tours and workshop In February, CHRA, the First Nations National Housing Managers Association, and Green Communities Canada brought together First Nations housing professionals from across the country to learn about successful programs that have made housing more energy efficient through the employment and training of young people with barriers to the labour market. The two-day Affordable Warmth in First Nations Communities National Workshop examined initiatives including Warm Up Winnipeg, Choices for Youth and the Cowlitz Tribal Weatherization Program from Washington State. It was supported through a grant from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Various symposia including: Rejuvenating your neighbourhood, Key workers Former Affordability and Choice Today program funded by CMHC CHRA Awards program Youth and Emerging professionals program YEP committee which meets by conf call & virtually through listserv Deep discounts for Congress registration Bursary program for travel for Congress Special sessions at congress
  • Part of communicating to decision-makers is about having a clear story to tell and a clear sense of what’s needed. At CHRA, we developed and released in 2009 a Homelessness Policy Statement that seeks to do this very thing; clearly communicate the problem and articulate the extent and nature of the federal investment required to start meaningfully addressing and reducing homelessness. The statement reflects what our members have told us and was endorsed by our Board of Directors. I’ll tell you in a moment what the policy statement says, but first let me tell you how it was developed, because I think this is almost as important as the policy statement itself. We really believe that policy cannot be developed by organizations in isolation . In that spirit, we reached out to engage sector leaders when we developed this policy statement. This assures as that it speaks to the needs of a broad-based constituency. The CHRA committee that was led the development of this policy includes some of these leaders, including, for example, Steve Gaetz, whose Canadian Homelessness Research Network is playing a key role in this conference. We launched this policy statement through a special 1-day dialogue at our 2009 national congress in Toronto, where Roch Hurtubise helped us frame the discussion, alongside international leaders such as Nan Roman, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington DC. And so, what does the policy statement say? Well, at a high level the policy statement articulates that Canada urgently needs a comprehensive national housing strategy that includes ending homelessness as a top priority. It clearly outlines the economic case for investing in ending homeless. We’ve seen this really resonate with the decision-makers who are faced with competing priorities and limited budgets. The statement describes the savings to the health, criminal justice and other emergency systems when homelessness is tackled in a meaningful way. It illustrates that a client centered approach is necessary, whereby supports are provided along with housing. The statement describes the need for federal funding, but emphasizes the roles of other actors, like provinces, communities and non-profit organizations. Perhaps most importantly, the statement stresses the need for flexibility within federal funding in acknowledging that communities need the ability to respond to homelessness in the ways which makes sense to them. We have given this statement to MPs, bureaucrats, and other organizations. The positions, messaging and numbers in the statement have been used by a range of groups, and we think this is really important as it gets everyone interested in ending homelessness reinforcing a single message. In effect, we are singing from the same song book and as a consequence reinforcing our message to decision-makers. Looking forward, we are looking to develop companion policy statements on particular sub-populations, including on youth homelessness and aboriginal homelessness this year, by likewise engaging with sector leaders in these areas. Our intention is to examine other sub-populations in future years. If you or the organization you work with may interested in working with on these, I would encourage to get in touch with CHRA.
  • 1/3 of new members are homelessness-related groups, e.g. Eva’s initiatives, Greater Moncton Homelessness steering committee, AIDS Committee/tommy Sexton house
  • 10 million average to each big city Average half million to the other 51 medium and small communities
  • Now, to be clear, we can’t rest on our laurels and assume that federal funding will fix everything. Ultimately – and hopefully with real funding in place - this is up to communities. So, we need to build successes ourselves and, to a significant degree, this is happening. Many of you in this very room work every day to support homeless individuals and families, and are findings ways to support them on a path towards permanent housing. Now, while we know anecdotally that best practices are out there and that those working on the front lines are a wealth of knowledge, I can also tell you from the perspective of someone working in the sector, this information and network is not always easy to access. Like others, I don’t always know how to connect with others who might be able to offer the insights and advice I am looking for to help me in supporting my community. So how to better access the innovation and information out there? I would suggest to you a formalized network is really needed. A network which, as a start, brings together the CABs and gets people sharing information, experiences and best practices. And the tent can be broadened from there too, to include a range of organizations and people working in our sector. At an organizational level, Canada is too small a country for our main housing & homelessness organizations to be working in isolation from each other. Beyond the sharing of information and learning that would come with a network of practitioners, a network would go a long way to help accelerate our collective effort to end homelessness, by engaging the communities that do the work. There is currently no regular Canadian forum for us, and CHRA is offering to help fill that void. Because we really see the value in a network, CHRA has contacted CABs to get there perspective on this. We heard back from CABs that, overwhelmingly, they thought a learning network would be a valuable tool and would help them do their job better. We are have consulted with some key housing & homelessness constituencies, such as le Reseau Solidarité d’itinérance du Quebec (RSIQ), RAPSIM, Raising the Roof, the Canadian Housing Research Network and the National Aboriginal Housing Association - and these discussions have been very positive. So, we are aiming to put the infrastructure in place to make this happen. And so I would ask you to consider supporting our efforts to make this happen. We are in the process of seeking some modest funding to put the network in place and we are confident we can make this happen because of the really significant benefit the sector could reap from being more connected.

Phil Brown Phil Brown Presentation Transcript

  • Perspective on the Future: Building A Collective Voice For Ending Homelessness Phil Brown First Vice-President, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP ON HOMELESSNESS RESEARCH, POLICY AND PRACTICE March 15-18, 2011
  • CHRA … the national voice for the full range of affordable housing and homelessness issues and solutions in Canada since 1968.
  • OUR FOUR PILLARS
    • 1. Keeping homes affordable
    • 2. Ending homelessness
    • 3. Renewing our communities
    • 4. Supporting a sustainable housing profession
  • OUR CHARACTERISTICS
    • Membership-based
    • Diverse representation
    • National
    • 1. Membership-based
      • 200 organizational and individual members representing 500,000+ social housing units
      • Accountable to members through 18-member elected board of directors
      • Member input through AGM Resolutions, committees, surveys, meetings
    • Diverse representation
      • Members include housing providers, municipal governments, all provincial and territorial governments, business, service organizations, hospital and health organizations, academics, developers , provincial and national organizations
      • Represent all sectors of the housing continuum: public, private and non-profit housing; ending homelessness; affordable home ownership
      • Members reflect Canadian diversity: aboriginal organizations; faith-based groups; rural and remote communities; Anglophone, francophone and bilingual groups; environmental groups
    • 3. National
      • Members in every province and territory
      • Members in each province elect a board member to represent them
  • OUR MAJOR ACTIVITIES
    • Network development
    • Advocacy
    • Policy & research
    • Program delivery
    • Network infrastructure and development
      • connect diverse stakeholders across Canada
      • Convene virtual and real-time events (Congress, webinars, meetings)
      • Enable information sharing and exchange through web site
      • Provide the platform for issue identification, consensus building and position development
    • Advocacy
      • Represent affordable housing and homelessness sector to governments, predominantly federal
      • Collaborate with other national groups, e.g. Federation of Canadian Municipalities, National Aboriginal Housing Association, Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada on national campaigns
      • Work to increase funding and to create a national housing strategy
      • Input to legislation, federal budgets, government studies, policies
    • 3. Policy & Research
      • Current: homelessness; green housing, green jobs; affordable housing
      • Future: youth and aboriginal homelessness
      • Process: member and expert input, vetted through task forces, committees, board of Directors, resolutions at AGM
    • 4. Program delivery
      • Annual Congress
      • Tri-Country Biannual Conference
      • Study tours/workshop
      • Youth / Emerging professional program
  • INITIATIVES TO END HOMELESSNESS
    • Policy
    • Education
    • Membership development
    • The New Learning Network
  • 1. Policy Highlights: - comprehensive national strategy - housing first principle - more housing now - essential supports - client centred - shared responsibility Future: youth, aboriginal, rural/remote
    • Education
      • Webinars : e.g. “Exploring Prevention: Working with Homeless and At-Risk Youth and their Families”, in partnership with Eva’s Initiatives
      • Pre-Congress Full Day Workshop : Breaking Down Silos: exploring the links between the housing, health and homelessness sectors
      • Congress sessions on research presentations, workshops, case studies
    • 3. Member development
      • growing sector of CHRA membership
    • 4. The New Learning Network
      • Based on federal program Homelessness Partnering Initiative which funds 61 communities across Canada to effect community-led, multisectoral approach to ending homelessness
      • Community Advisory Boards/Community Entities are composed of a wide range of community stakeholders with representatives from: local homeless service providers, the private sector and all three levels of government, with various key homeless sub-populations, including Aboriginal people and youth participation encouraged.
      • Average size of CAB is 20 to 30 members in each community
      • Federal funding is $135 million annually : 80% goes to the 10 biggest cities and 20% to 51 medium & smaller cities
    • 4. The New Learning Network
      • Goss Gilroy Inc research of CABs (82% response)
      • Issues and areas of practice:
        • Reduction of homelessness and transition to housing stability (92%)
        • Prevention of homelessness (88%)
        • Improvement in service quality or service capacity (80%)
        • Social integration (67%)
      • Learning Network Objectives:
        • Networking and information sharing
        • Capacity building
        • Highlighting success
        • Learning, not advocacy, focused
  • Thank you. www.chra-achru.ca For more information: Jody Ciufo, Executive Director [email_address]