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March 1, 2021
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A strange first anniversary


Dear Subscribers,

Spring, generally a source of hope, is this year synonymous with a first anniversary that would have been better to never celebrate. It has now been a year since most provinces and territories in the country (and internationally) have been living under special measures because of the Covid-19 pandemic. State of emergency, confinement, curfew, restrictions and demands of all kinds: everyone has seen her or his daily life turned upside down. For many community housing organizations, the pandemic has further highlighted the pressing needs of the most vulnerable and has made contact with tenants more difficult.

But the pandemic has also highlighted the resilience and innovation of many people and organizations.

In the community housing sector, we’ve seen, for example, the annual Housing Central conference of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association took place in November 2020 in a completely virtual way, with excellent results. This shows that even though face-to-face meetings are essential and useful to community life, a virtual event can be warm, create a sense of belonging and allow for the participation of more people who, for all kinds of reasons (financial, logistical, resources, etc.), would otherwise not have been able to travel and attend. It is safe to assume that events of this type will from now on attempt—when it is possible to once more meet in public—to mix the two approaches (on-site and virtual) in order to create even more accessible opportunities to get together.

Another way to reach people without meeting them in person during the pandemic is via their headphones. Indeed, the podcast project Un toit, un droit (One roof, one right) from the Fédération régionale des OSBL d'habitation de la Montérégie et de l'Estrie in Quebec is an excellent example of what can be done to continue educating tenants about issues that concern them and the importance of community housing. On the technical side, recording the podcasts is also easy to do remotely.

Other projects, submitted before the pandemic but carried out during the lockdowns, had to find new ways to doing things. That was the case for the action-research project currently taking place in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. The original plan was to conduct a door-to-door survey of local tenants. But since they wanted it to be as accessible as possible, the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust team decided on a combination of surveys over the Internet, by phone, and even using good-old printed questionnaires! The number of responses the team received exceeded expectations.

So, while the pandemic has been and continues to be challenging, it also demonstrates the great adaptability and strength of the individuals and organizations that make up the community housing sector. But to be honest, at the Centre, we’re well aware that working miracles is part of your daily experience!

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We'd love to hear your stories
How have you, as individuals and organizations, dealt with the changes imposed by the pandemic? We would like to hear and share the stories you’ve witnessed of ingenuity, inventiveness and inspiration in this era of telework and lockdown, of isolation, alienation and hope. What made you cry, what made you laugh, what made you swell with pride? Send your stories to communication@centre.support. We’ll be happy to read them and, if you agree, to share them on the Centre’s website. 
 
The Centre team

Tenant engagement strengthens us all

Tenant engagement is at the core of a sustainable community housing sector and is a key contributor to a vibrant and thriving model. It can range from operational to strategic, but this involvement and expertise is always foundational to growing in the right direction and achieving the mission of ensuring a home for all. 

In practice, however, due to a lack of resources, opportunities to fully take advantage of tenant participation are sometimes limited. The Community-Based Tenant Initiative Fund is there to raise awareness and support the implementation of new and improved tenant engagement practices. 

The funding year is drawing to a close this month, however. So if you’d like to get your project in under the wire, we invite you to check out last month’s special CBTIF newsletter and contact us today to see how we can help! 

Survey: Rapid Housing Inititiative

Rapid Housing Initiative: We want your feedback!
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Were you aware of the CMHC’s 2020 Rapid Housing Initiative? $1 billion to build 3,000 social housing units in a single year? With the possibility of another RHI for the year 2021, we want your feedback on what you think any future program should do. Whether you applied or not, whether you were eligible or not, we want to know what you think should happen in future initiatives. The information collected will be documented in our reporting to the CMHC about the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the RHI. Take the survey

Articles & awarded projects
Parkdale tenants seek community solutions to booming gentrification
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The Parkdale neighbourhood in Toronto is the focus of action-oriented research into changes in the rental market over the past few years. Rent increases, changes in building owners, shifts in the mix of tenants: the project seeks to record the experiences of residents through stories and data in order to come up with solutions from the community. Read the article
CHRA Statement on Reconciliation and Cultural Principles
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To spotlight their dedication to Reconciliation, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and the CHRA Indigenous Caucus have recently released a Statement on Reconciliation and Cultural Principles, with the hope to encourage sector organizations to reconfirm their commitment to Reconciliation in day-to-day operations, and beyond. Read the article
Sector events

CHRA launches registration for the 2021 National Congress on Housing and Homelessness

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Mark your calendars for CHRA’s first-ever virtual Congress on Housing and Homelessness happening from April 27 to 29, 2021! Get ready for three days of learning, networking and engaging with leaders from across the Canadian community housing sector to have your say on key issues, learn about the latest sector developments, make connections across the country, and get inspired! Register here
Building blocks: your projects
The Centre’s $97,000 grant will be used to create a Tenant Leadership Group with approximately 25 to 30 people—with a focus on recruiting Indigenous tenants and people with lived experience of homelessness. Read more
With a grant of $75,000 from the Centre, the Toronto Equity Tenant Initiative project will allow the Federation to hire a community organizer whose mission will be to work with populations struggling with systemic discrimination. Read more

Benefitting from a $45,000 grant, the project will focus on ensuring tenants are included in the creation of policies for improved standards in deficient buildings, and the creation of more affordable housing in target neighbourhoods. Read more

The project, which received a $75,000 grant, seeks to influence the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents in cities by promoting communication and creating the space for discussions and consultations with Indigenous tenants and landlords. Read more
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