Since 2011, CERA’s Youth Housing Rights Program has been working with young people to overcome barriers to housing through creatively engaging with their rights and the law. We know that housing laws are obscure, complicated, and ultimately boring. But they matter to the lives of young people, and with a bit of creativity, CERA makes them relevant. We engage in youth-centric ways and empower YOU(th) to self-advocate in the face of discrimination.
After five years of working with young people, we know that more youth would secure housing if they had access to the knowledge and resources needed to advocate for their rights and stand up to discrimination.
Like all of CERA’s work, our Youth Housing Rights Program is multi-faceted. It involves creative legal education, advocacy, litigation, and public outreach and research.
Why do housing rights matter for young people? One of the main barriers youth face when accessing housing is discrimination from housing providers. Landlords deny young people for tons of intersectional reasons – maybe because they are sole-support parents, they receive social assistance, lack credit or rental history, are students, or do not satisfy minimum income requirements.
This kind of discrimination is illegal. Call us if it’s happening to you. If you’re a young person facing discrimination from a landlord, or if you work with young people and want resources to help address this issue, call us at 1.800. 263.1139 ext. 1.
The Youth Housing Rights Program is made up of several short-term projects.
The central focus of the Youth Housing Rights Program is to meet young people through creative legal education sessions in their communities. These sessions creatively engage and empower youth by providing the information they need in order to self-advocate in the face of discrimination. They have been funded for five years by different supporters. If you are interested in supporting our youth housing rights program in the future, please contact Katie@equalityrights.org.
Youth Housing Rights as Part of a Vital Toronto (2016-17)
We’re currently working with a team of 12 paid Youth Advisors who are helping us improve our services for young Ontarians. Stay tuned for updates!
Piecing the Puzzle: Overcoming Barriers to Youth Housing (2014-2016)
In 2014 we launched a dynamic two tier project titled Piecing the Puzzle: Overcoming Barriers to Youth Housing. We reached over 300 young people in Toronto and Ottawa, and have trained (and paid) 4 Housing Rights Ambassadors in Toronto who are working with us on community engagement strategies moving forward.
Read more about the project’s approach here.
Check out our mid-project update.
Piecing the Puzzle is generously funded by the City of Toronto’s Access, Equity & Human Rights fund.
Youth 4 Housing 4 Youth Toronto (2013)
In 2013, with the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario, we launched the second round of the Youth 4 Housing 4 Youth Project in Toronto. We partnered with the Regent Park Community Health Centre, Pathways to Education, and Access Alliance to provide a series of creative legal education workshops. This project specifically aimed to engage youth in the margins currently facing displacement as a result of the Regent Park revitalization process.
Youth for Housing for Youth Ottawa (2011)
In 2011, with the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario, we launched Youth 4 Housing 4 Youth Ottawa, a dynamic project that for the first time in CERA’s history combined creative arts-based advocacy with human rights legal education. The project included a partnership with four alternative high schools in Ottawa. Over the course of this project, youth from each school participated in workshops on human rights and housing in Ontario, embraced the power of creative advocacy, and received technical artistic training. As a group, the youth each created a deck of cards with illustrations on housing and human rights on one side, and legal information on housing and human rights on the other. The final card sets were then distributed to each school, allowing youth participants to freely share the knowledge they had learned, and the art they had created.
1 Power, Asetha (2008) Homeless Hub: http://homeless.samhsa.gov/Channel/Youth-268.aspx