Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Right to Housing Annual Report - 2012

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Right to Housing Coalition is a non-profit, volunteer advocacy coalition of 50 supporting organizations. We have an active membership of over 40 individuals and an email circulation list of 160.   Although R2H is based in Winnipeg, we maintain contact with housing advocates in Brandon, Thompson and Selkirk. I appreciate this opportunity to report on the past year’s activities.

As the of the future of the operational land on the Kapyong base drags on, we are preparing for the time when it will be opportune to advocate for a diverse housing plan to be included. However knowing that the Federal Government has appealed the court decision again tells us not to expect any actions in the near future.

This year Right to Housing has produced major policy papers aimed at the Federal and City of Winnipeg governments.  They can be seen on our website, www.righttohousing.ca  The Federal Government continues to refuse to meet with us so we are not counting on any significant change in their policy to gradually withdraw from all funding of affordable and social housing.  The City of Winnipeg is in the process of drafting a new housing policy, a process in which we are taking an active part. However the City budget has being tabled and it does not appear to allow for any significant policy changes, at least for the coming year.

Our working relationship with the Provincial Government is more positive.  Because of the expiration of operating grants on social housing Manitoba Housing has the unwelcome task of deciding which social housing units will be maintained and which will be forced to charge market rents, or be sold outright.  In either case these units will be lost as social housing.  This is a devastating loss of a publically funded infrastructure resource at a time when Manitoba needs more not less social housing.  We recently received confirmation that no four and five bedroom homes would be sold after our members made a passionate plea to safeguard these larger homes as they are exactly what large families of newcomers need.

Right to Housing is a supporter of Make Poverty History Manitoba and we are active in the campaign to increase the housing allowance for recipients of Employment and Income Assistance including the 12 Days of Christmas initiative that ended on January 4.  The Provincial position is that they are trying to encourage education, training and getting employment as their solution to EIA housing problems.  We don’t and can’t argue with that, however it does nothing for the 60% of recipients that are unemployable for reasons such as disabilities, health and family circumstances.  Nor does their precarious housing condition encourage education and training for employment. The housing allowances have not been raised since 1992 and rents have been sky rocketing, making food banks and increasing homelessness hard facts of life.

Bill C-400 is a private member’s bill that if passed, would mandate the Federal Government to take leadership in convening all levels of government, First Nations, non-profits and the private sector to negotiate a sustainable national housing strategy.  Canada is the only G8 country without such a strategy.  It is almost certain that this bill will not pass, but R2H is still encouraging members of parliament to support it.

SOME HOUSING FACTS:

  • The rental vacancy rate in Winnipeg is just over 1.7%, still among the lowest in the country.
  • The rental universe in Winnipeg continues to lose units, due to conversions to condos and demolitions.
  • Since 1992 Winnipeg’s rental universe has declined by 9%, from 57,279 to 52,319.  Over this same time Winnipeg’s population has increased by 11%, from 677,000 to 753,600.
  • Homelessness in Winnipeg is rising steadily.  We have 350 regular shelter beds in Winnipeg, (increasing to 500 in severely cold weather).  They are full every night and people are always being turned away.  Homeless people are not always visible as they are often living in overcrowded apartments with friends and relatives, (couch surfing).
  • Soup kitchens and Winnipeg Harvest have become a necessity not just for the homeless, but also for households who must supplement their housing budget with food money and depend on Harvest to keep from starving.

SUMMARY OF OUR ACTIONS IN 2012

We don’t spend a lot of time accounting for our activities but a quick look through my day book and hard drive came up with this rough calculation of the coalition’s activity in 2012.

  • Presentations: 15
  • Affordable Rental Housing Roundtable meetings: 3
  • Demonstrations and staged events: 5
  • Letters to the editor, media interviews, op/eds: 5
  • Letters to the Minister of Housing in Manitoba: 2
  • Letters to Premier Selinger: 2
  • Letters to Members of Parliament: 3
  • Meetings with Members of Parliament: 2
  • Meetings with the Minister of Housing: 2
  • Meetings with Manitoba Housing: 2
  • Meeting with Opposition MLAs: 1
  • Meetings with City Counselors: 1
  • Meetings with Winnipeg Housing: 5
  • Papers: 3
  • Press Releases: 5
  • Petitions: 1

These tangible deliverables represent many hours of regular coalition meetings and consultations.  For more details about the content you may want to go to our website, www.righttohousing.ca or visit our Facebook page.  We are always glad to speak to community interest groups.  Individuals are welcome to any of our monthly meetings.  They are held at Crossways in Common on the third Tuesday afternoon of each month.

Housing Data for Winnipeg & Manitoba: February 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

February 2013

The latest housing data for Winnipeg and Manitoba is now available. A recent report by the CCPA - compiled by Sarah Cooper - documents the core housing need in Manitoba, current vacancy rates, the affordability of average rents, and the latest developments in social housing. Follow the link below to download the report (pdf).

Winnipeg & Manitoba Housing Stats - February 2013

State of the Inner City Report: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Each year, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Manitoba publishes its State of the Inner City Report. This year’s report, Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges, speaks to concerns raised by community-based organizations - such as the Right to Housing Coalition - the impact that some Government decisions (and indecisions) can have on vulnerable people. The report provides policy makers with recommendations for working more collaboratively with community.

Through this report, we continue to seek ways to address the racialized, spatialized poverty in the inner city that is causing a deep divide in Winnipeg. CCPA-MB conducted a series of workshops and interviews with Aboriginal Elders, Aboriginal youth from the CEDA Pathways to Education program and youth who live outside of the inner city including students from College Beliveau and Grant Park High School. Together they discussed the perceptions of inner-city, poverty and racism in Winnipeg, and how the community can work together to resolve these issues.

Dear Canada, Your Homelessness is Showing

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Sarah Cooper recently wrote a letter to Canada to let the nation know that its embarrassing homelessness problem is beyond concealment. In the article - which appeared as an edition of the CCPA’s Fast Facts - Sarah writes:

It used to be that Canada had hardly any homeless people, and a social housing model that was lauded around the world. But now it’s been 20 years since federal funding was frozen for housing programs, longer than that since the gradual withdrawal from housing began.

Today, Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, and it shows: it’s estimated that about 300,000 Canadians are homeless, and about 1.7 million Canadians have trouble affording their housing. There are shelters and food banks in pretty much every Canadian city for men, women and children who don’t have a place to live or food to eat. It’s been going on for a while, and although our governments try to ignore it, it’s become an international embarrassment.

Sarah also highlights Manitoba’s affordable housing shortage - where the average cost of a home is outpacing average income increases. In concluding the article, she calls for a national housing strategy bring stakeholders and the Government of Canada together to develop targets and timelines to address housing issues and eliminate homelessness.

Sarah Cooper is the Housing and Community Development Researcher for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives -MB and a member of the Right to Housing Coalition.

Budget Submission: Housing Recommendations for Manitoba

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

The Right to Housing Coalition has submitted budget recommendations to The Hon. Stan Struthers, Minister of Finance to bring attention to real housing solutions in Manitoba.

Among the recommendations included in our submission are:

  • Funding for the creation of the promised 2500 units of new affordable rental housing
  • One third of these units to be RGI
  • Target new social housing units and rent supplements to areas most affected by displacement of households due to urban renewal and gentrification
  • Increase the Housing Allowance of EIA recipients to 75% of median market rent levels
  • Provide more portable shelter allowances for low-income working households.
  • Provide a PST reduction on materials and services used in construction of purpose-built rental housing.
  • In collaboration with municipalities, expand the TIF program beyond the downtown of Winnipeg.

provincial-budget-submission-jan-31-2013


Housing Housing Everywhere: One way to make some of it affordable

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Earlier this month, the Province of Manitoba announced new legislation that will allow municipalities in Manitoba to encourage or require new developments to include affordable housing. Essentially, the bill empowers municipalities to enact ‘inclusionary zoning.’ In response to this announcement, Sarah Cooper of the CCPA-Manitoba wrote an informative article that describes the opportunity and limitations of the legislation. The article was subsequently printed as an op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Homelessness: Closing the gap between capacity and performance

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

According to a new report published by the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, governments must clarify their roles in tackling homelessness in order for these efforts to be more effective. In Homelessness: Closing the gap between capacity and performance, author James Hughes demonstrates significant capacity in the homelessness sector in Canada, but suggests overlapping and competing roles between different orders of government limits positive results.

Fall 2012 Rental Market Statistics

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has released its quarterly Rental Market Survey.  The report shows very modest growth in the vacancy rate for Winnipeg, Steinbach and Thompson, while Brandon and Portage La Prairie remain stagnant.

While there has been an improvement in vacancy rates, no Manitoban cities have reached a rate of 2%. We still have a long way to go to reach a level of housing security.

New Legislation to Increase Affordable Housing in Manitoba

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Earlier this month, the Province of Manitoba announced legislative amendments to the Planning Act and the City of Winnipeg Charter that will give municipalities the authority to encourage or require new developments to include housing that is affordable to low and moderate income households. Right to Housing has actively encouraged this kind of inclusionary zoning and we welcome the legislation. We also commend the mayor of Brandon for coming out in support of it immediately. Following Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux’s announcement, Mayor Shari Decter-Hirst stated, “We are looking forward to taking advantage of this opportunity and strongly encourage other municipalities dealing with affordable housing challenges to do the same.”

Although this is a great step forward, Right to Housing will continue our work by urging the City of Winnipeg to make use of this legislation to help to address our affordable and social housing shortage.

Winnipeg Supports a National Housing Strategy: National Housing Day 2012

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

On November 22, Right to Housing and the Red Tent Campaign, along with dozens of Winnipeg housing advocates stood together with other cities across Canada in support of Bill C-400 to mark National Housing Day. This Act, which is going to a vote in the House of Commons on November 28, will ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians. Participants picketed in front of the Cargill Building as it houses offices of the Federal Government. These actions were followed by a press conference, which attracted several local media outlets.

Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy and has consequently become a country of severe affordable and social housing shortages, escalating homelessness and an embarrassing lack of follow through in honouring our international human rights commitments to guarantee the right to adequate housing for our inhabitants.

For more information about the urgent need for a National Housing Strategy, read this article by the CCPA’s Shauna MacKinnon: National Housing Day: Still Waiting for Plan

View pictures from the day on our Facebook page