The HMCo May 2020 Newsletter!

 

Welcome to the first monthly HMCo newsletter.

Thank you for responding with such enthusiasm.

The goal of this newsletter is advocacy within the housing sector. We are hoping to use this newsletter as a tool for collaboration:

  • Do you have an event or campaign to promote?
  • How can we help with your advocacy in the sector?
  • Is there a topic you would like us to cover?
  • Can we share your ideas or publish any articles on your behalf?
While we continue and adapt this newsletter, your feedback is important. Please contact Housing Managers Collective by email at info@housingmanagers.ca
City of Ottawa 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan
https://ottawa.ca/en/family-and-social-services/housing

The City of Ottawa is refreshing their 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan. The Plan will be presented to City Council on June 18, 2020.
 
This is a chance to engage with the City for a housing plan that works to address the crisis we are faced with. Between now and the meeting there will be an opportunity to write to your councillors, the mayor, and even speak to council on this issue.

HMCo is working with other organizations to help advocate over the next few weeks.

For updates on advocacy around the 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan over the next few weeks email kaeli@housingmanagers.ca and I will keep you in the loop. THANK YOU!
The time is NOW to solve Canada’s housing crisis

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness is embarking on: Recovery for All, a campaign to end homelessness in Canada once and for all. This bold campaign is trying to reverse the decades long policy of homelessness, encouraging our Parliament to invest in a COVID-19 recovery for all individuals. 

We are at a unique moment in time when big change is possible - we have a progressively aligned federal Parliament and a public sharing in some of the fear, worry and anxiety that our homeless neighbours feel every day. We have proven models to follow, communities already having success in reducing homelessness and we have a growing and powerful grassroots movement working to end homelessness. 
We can stimulate the economy, create jobs, and end homelessness at the same time. 

I would really appreciate it if you could join too! It takes 30 seconds. You can do it here: https://www.recoveryforall.ca
Housing, Homelessness, and Climate Emergencies
How the Official Plan can Help Create a City for All

On May 25, 2020, community groups hosted an important conversation about inequities, under-appreciated emergencies, and how the Official Plan can meaningfully address these urgent issues to help create a city for all. With a majority of Ottawa City Council set to vote on an urban boundary expansion that will have negative social, financial, health, and environmental consequences, there is an urgent need for this conversation. 

Representatives of the Alliance to End Homelessness, City for All Women Initiative, Ecology Ottawa, Healthy Transportation Coalition, and Housing Managers Collective hosted a panel discussion followed by a community conversation about what we should do to respond accordingly. You can find the slide deck here.
Housing Co-operatives in the Time of Covid-19
 
The co-op develops community infrastructure that can provide resources during a disaster, and promotes community connections.” – Neighbour Lab, Victoria, BC.
 
CMHC exists in part to buffer the effects of these events. This is what we do.”– President of CMHC, Evan Siddall

On March 11th, 2020, the WHO declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic marked the beginning of a rapidly evolving public health event that would bring unprecedented global and local changes, transforming all of our lives overnight.
Greener Work Processes

In following the social distancing guidelines of the Public Health Agency of Canada to protect the health and safety of our communities, co-op staff have adapted in order to continue to provide essential housing services. Like many organizations, we have closed offices and suspended non-emergency visits to the building by staff, augmented cleaning protocols, postponed in-person meetings and events, and reduced maintenance to emergencies only.

As staff have shifted to working from home and have moved in person meetings to video conference and teleconference, we have transitioned to greener and paperless processes: conserving gas and energy by avoiding or reducing transit. We have initiated changes to housing charge payment methods from cheques to electronic funds transfers and direct debit, which means fewer trips to the office and less paper cheques for members, and less paper usage and trips to the bank for staff. For both staff and members it has been an opportunity to learn leaner, greener and more efficient practices, increase our technical literacy and develop new habits. Though challenging and full of uncertainty, working within this new reality has brought many insights, solutions, adaptations, new working methods, and lessons that we hope continue to take root.
Community resilience through co-operation and creativity

Despite the challenges of social distancing, many co-ops have found ways to maintain community spirit and practice mutual aid. Co-op Voisins has organized balcony singalongs. Other co-ops have held “neighbourhood window walks”. Each week children draw pictures for a weekly theme. The children place the drawings in their windows for others to see. 

We have heard stories of members helping members by posting a page on their floor where people can write (with their own pens) if they need help or want to give help. This has sparked creativity as members add pictures and messages of encouragement to the list. 
Get On Your Soapbox: Say “YES” to Improving Existing Hoods

If you could improve 3 things in your neighbourhood, today, what would they be? This is your chance to let the City of Ottawa know what is important to you about the place you live.

Click here and click the 'CREATE VIDEO' button 

For Inspiration, you can view all the videos previously recorded here.
From Crisis to Opportunity

In times of crisis many things that once seemed important no longer seem as important. The collapse of business-as-usual shines a spotlight on things that aren’t working, things that are ready to be transformed, what we should keep and what we should let go of.

The bonds of cooperation and community that connect us remain despite the crisis. When it seems everything else has fallen away. When familiar aspects of life have dramatically changed. The basic principles that co-operatives are built on emerge as some of the most sustaining and policies during this time. 

We will all benefit from being flexible during this time of economic uncertainty. Community Housing can provide this flexibility, and assurance of a community holding them up.
Holding Up Your Community

We are seeing a heightened sense of community and heightened conflict between neighbours as everyone adapts to being at home all of the time. Keeping this in mind, we can work towards a peaceful community. This a situation we have never experienced before. Everyone is responding to the situation in their own way and this can cause all kinds of feelings to arise. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.

Everyone has their own ways of coping during times of stress. When things feel out of control it’s normal to feel judgemental towards the people around you and sometimes the people closest to you. It is also important to remind others and ourselves that there is no right way to feel right now. Everyone is doing the best they can. 

Take a moment to be kind to yourself.
Hotels2Homes

The City of Ottawa declared a housing and homelessness emergency in our community in January 2020 and we are now also dealing with a highly contagious virus where physical distancing and social isolation are the key strategies to slow the spread. Those who are homeless and precariously housed are not able to take these same preventative measures. 

People who experience homelessness are already at a greater risk of developing COVID-19 due to a higher prevalence of chronic diseases. As non-essential services are closed, many people experiencing homelessness cannot access clean bathrooms, showering facilities, and cleaning supplies - all critical tools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

We need your help! Please consider these actions:
  1. Visit www.housingemergencyottawa.ca to write to your MP and urge the federal government to provide funding for the City to purchase hotels.
  2. Spread the word widely with your friends, family, neighbours, and networks and encourage them to support the campaign.
Spring Webinar Series

The Spring Webinar Series was organized to create opportunities for CLTs and allies across Canada to continue to learn from each other's work and strategize to build a movement for community-owned land and permanently affordable housing. 
Perfecting the CLT Pitch
June 18th, 1-3 pm EST
RSVP NOW
Mutual Aid Organizing & Implications for CLTs
July 2nd, 1-3 pm EST
RSVP NOW
Pandemic is showing the strength of the Co-operative model

While profit driven housing is in crisis (from long term care homes to market rental housing to AirBnB), the pandemic has revealed the strength of the co-op model.

We are hearing stories of people in precarious housing situations losing their housing due to the pandemic: healthcare workers losing rooms in shared accommodations, or people being evicted for being unable to pay rent after losing their incomes. Stories are told every day on social media of people feeling isolated and unable to access essentials like food and medication. All too often, the situation becomes dire before anyone responds. One Ottawa nurse, Katherine Slinksi, lost her housing due to the pandemic, as her landlord was afraid of being exposed to infection. Incidentally it was a resident of a local co-op who offered their unit rent free until Slinski could find suitable housing while the resident sheltered with a family member.

From their inception, housing co-ops have tried to position themselves to help members in need. The strength of these communities is their ability to work locally, in a personalized way, in order to address critical needs quickly. Members in these communities already know their neighbours, and know who may be vulnerable. In many cases, informal networks are in place for checking up on each other, picking up groceries, medications or other necessities for each other. These communities are ready to act quickly when needed, and members know that there is always a number to call if they need help. When people are anxious and frightened, having a housing provider with established, proactive responses can significantly reduce stress levels experienced by residents during a crisis.

Co-ops and non-profits have a compassionate relationship with a desire to keep people housed. In this situation, they are trying to find ways to continue to do this instead of, like many landlords, trying to find ways to get people moving if they can’t pay. Any money that co-ops and non-profits can divert right now can go into making sure that the co-op can continue to provide security in housing. For example, one Ottawa co-op was able to offer its 50 residents two months of rent relief by delaying a capital renovation project. Co-ops often have saved money in replacement reserves and subsidy funds for a rainy day. This kind of planning shows how viable the co-op model is at this time; their money has always been intended to provide security of housing and not make profits.

Co-ops and non-profits are actively looking into other ways of helping, including connecting people with other resources, and providing them information so that they can personally face the pandemic more easily. The Co-operative Housing Federation is continuously monitoring the various programs being introduced by the federal and provincial governments that may be applicable to members. Co-op staff have brainstormed practical measures that can be taken in the event of a potential Covid-19 outbreak: one co-op has shared that they are using an empty unit for a potential quarantine space in case someone in a rooming house or roommate situation becomes ill.

There is little security in this world, and the co-operative business model can take the burden off other supportive systems and provide quality housing at the same time. As more and more stories emerge in the media of citizen mutual aid initiatives, it seems that a realization has taken hold that community is key to our resilience and security – which was already understood and actively practised by housing co-operatives. In this time when many businesses and communities are scrambling to re-learn mutually beneficial interdependence, co-ops and non-profits are well positioned to continue to do what they have been built to do: be flexible and humane, a place where groups of people can work together to find solutions in order to avoid evictions and families going without basic necessities.

Housing Managers Collective can help you