Tag Archives: youth

Host Your Very Own Creative Youth Housing Rights Workshop

 Want to host a creative housing rights workshop in your community? Our brand new Facilitator’s Tools are free, easy to download, and provide everything you need to get started. It was created by CERA with the help of 11 youth advisors, who worked with us in 2016-17 to make these tools user and youth-friendly.

Download the Toolkit, Slide Deck and Pocket Guide for FREE!

Youth Housing Rights Facilitator’s Toolkit

Youth Housing Rights Slide Deck, including facilitator’s notes. You can adapt the Powerpoint presentation to suit your group’s needs. *Please note: by downloading and adapting the presentation you agree to not hold CERA accountable for any changes to the content of the presentation.

Know Your Housing Rights Pocket Guide / Know Your Housing Rights Pocket Guide B / Know Your Housing Rights Pocket Guide C / Know Your Housing Rights Pocket Guide D. You can print them yourself or contact us for copies.

Have comments or questions about these resources? We want to hear from you. Email us at cera@equalityrights.org.

Support has been provided by a grant from the Peter and Elizabeth Morgan Fund and the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Foundation.

Under 30? Join our Advisory Committee

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UPDATE! : : : Interest in this position has been overwhelming! At this time we are no longer accepting applications for the Youth Advisory Committee. Please stay in touch with CERA about future opportunities

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If you are under 30 and have ever faced discrimination in housing or homelessness, we want your input. This is a paid opportunity for you to connect with other young people and help CERA improve its services. More details on the flyer above.

We are accepting applications for 10 positions.

**DEADLINE TO APPLY: Email your responses to these questions to Katie@equalityrights.org by June 17th, 2016.

Or call Katie if you have any questions at 416-944-0087 Ext 3.


We are grateful for financial support provided by a grant from the Peter and Elizabeth Morgan Fund and the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Foundation.

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Thanks to Vital Ideas, Our Youth Housing Rights Program is Growing

CERA is excited to announce that we have been selected as a 2016 Vital Ideas grant recipient! Evaluating and documenting curriculum, conducting research in community legal education and arts facilitation, and updating communications materials will allow us to expand our youth housing rights program over the next year.

We are grateful for this support provided by a grant from the Peter and Elizabeth Morgan Fund and the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Foundation.

Find out more about this exciting project and the other inspiring Vital Ideas grant recipients.

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Check out new tools to help you claim your rights!

PROJECT UPDATE! Facilitating Local Responses to Housing Discrimination

After many hours of writing and lots of conversations with our wonderful partners across the province, we’re excited to share over twenty new housing rights resources and self-advocacy tools for tenants that we’ve been working on over the past several months. Here they are!

At CERA, we believe that knowing your rights is the first step to making them a reality. These new tools are designed to offer tenants and housing sector professionals key information and strategies to enable Ontarians to realize your human rights in rental housing. Translated versions are coming soon!

Know Your Rights Guide & Tip Sheets

This easy to use Guide has been designed to address common questions and walk tenants through practical examples of ways you can self-advocate: Tenant Toolkit – Human Rights & Rental Housing in Ontario

We will  soon be adding customized Tip Sheets for: Newcomers in Hamilton,  women who have experienced domestic violence in Toronto, Aging and Senior Tenants in London, Tenants facing discrimination in Windsor , Indigenous Tenants in OttawaIndigenous Youth in Thunder Bay, and  Tenants with Mental Health Issues in Sudbury.

Realize-Your-Rights Postcards

Want to self-advocate with a landlord about a time you were treated unfairly under the Human Rights Code? You can use these postcards to educate landlords and your friends and family about housing rights in Ontario.

Myth: Landlords can dictate how many bedrooms a family needs

Myth: Landlords can refuse to rent to someone who does not have references or a credit rating

Myth: Aging tenants need to move out to find a more accessible unit that meets their changing needs

Myth: Landlords can evict tenants that they think are “too old” to live independently

Myth: Landlords just need to collect the rent and do repairs, nothing else

Myth: Landlords can discriminate against indigenous housing seekers

Myth: A landlord can refuse to rent to someone because they have a mental illness

Myth: tenants with worsening disabilities need to move out to find a place that meets their needs

Myth: Landlords can refuse to rent to someone because they are “too young”

Myth: If someone doesn’t have landlord references or a credit rating, landlords can refuse them

Myth: landlords don’t have to rent to people who receive social assistance

Myth: landlords can refuse you if you don’t make 3x the rent

Myth: landlords can refuse to rent to families with children

 

If you or your organization would like hard copies of any of the above resources, please contact us at renee(at)equalityrights.org

Next Steps! CERA will be re-visiting our partners across the province to work with local Housing Rights Ambassadors on spreading the word about human rights in housing in April and May 2016. Stay tuned! If you would like to join one of our upcoming workshops, contact Renee at renee(at)equalityrights.org.

Thanks again to our partners for their feedback and guidance:

Age Friendly London Network, CMHA Sudbury Manitoulin, Housing Help Hamilton, Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic, Odawa Native Friendship Centre’s Drop In, Voices Against Poverty and numerous shelters, drop-ins and community organizations in Toronto.

Special thank you to our funder for this project:

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Prospective tenant awarded $10,000 for landlord’s discriminatory treatment

A young woman was denied an apartment because she was under the age of 18, something that is illegal under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found Havcare Investments and Ms. Carolyn Goodman had violated the Code, fabricated evidence and attempted to get a witness to lie on the stand.

Recognizing the young woman’s particular vulnerability the Tribunal anonymized her name, noting that she “had been a Crown ward since she was 13 years old, was homeless, and was still in high school. Furthermore, she was dealing with significant personal issues, including a pregnancy.”

The Tribunal awarded the young woman $10,000 in damages for the discrimination and ordered the landlord to hire an expert to develop a human rights policy and train staff.

“This is a significant decision,” said Megan Evans Maxwell, AB’s lawyer who acted for the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and is now counsel at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.  “This young woman had support and was determined to make a difference to other peoples’ lives so she stuck with it,” continued Evans Maxwell.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that Ms. Goodman (also known as Ms. Linton and/or Krebs) had “attempted to influence a witness, Ms. St. John, to deny that the applicant had been denied the unit on the basis of her age.” The Tribunal also concluded that the landlord’s insistence the unit had been rented to another tenant was “fabricated evidence regarding the purported tenant.”

“Housing decisions from the Tribunal are rare,” said Theresa Thornton, Executive Director of CERA. “Most people walk away from the discrimination, desperate to secure a place to live,” continued Thornton.

CERA is the only organization in Canada dedicated to promoting human rights in housing and ending housing discrimination.

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers free legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

For more information or to arrange interviews:

Theresa Thornton, Executive Director, CERA 416-944-0087 ext.2

Jennifer Ramsay, Human Rights Legal Support Centre 416-597-4958 or 416-522-5931 (mobile)

 

Download this press release: here.

Stereotyping can go both ways

At CERA, we often see landlords at their worst. Those brought to our attention are typically not landlords that are doing a great job, but those that are potentially violating the Human Rights Code. When we speak to them it is usually because they have (allegedly) discriminated against one of our clients. After 25 years of responding to discrimination complaints, CERA has developed a pretty one-sided view of the rental housing sector.

It’s nice, then, when we can get beyond our own prejudices.

Over the past few months, CERA staff and volunteers have been scanning ads in Kijiji and Craigslist to educate landlords whose ads indicate that they may be violating the Code (see “Kijiji – stop promoting housing discrimination“). We’ve been picking out ads that say things like, “looking for a professional single or couple,” “seeking mature, quiet individual,” “proof of employment required” or “no kids” and either calling or e-mailing the posters to educate them on the Code and its prohibitions against discrimination directed at families with children, young people, people receiving social assistance, etc.

When we started, we weren’t sure how this outreach would be greeted. Would the landlords hang up on us, yell at us to mind our own business, tell us that they can rent to whomever they want?

We’ve heard all of these things, though more often the landlords have been open to our calls. Most have said they didn’t realize their rental requirements or “preferences” were potentially discriminatory and have been quick to change their ads. Many have also wanted us to forward additional information on CERA and the Code. With most of the landlords, there appears to be a genuine interest in understanding the Code and how it applies to their rental property. And most haven’t been professional landlords (i.e. landlords that should “know better”) – they’re just people renting out apartments in their homes.

CERA counsels others not to generalize or make decisions based on assumptions. When it comes to landlords, it appears that we haven’t always followed our own advice.

Youth in the House!

Youth homelessness has been a growing concern at CERA. With a housing crisis gripping communities across Canada and huge waiting lists for affordable housing, this particularly vulnerable group is getting an even shorter end of a short stick.

The common assumption when viewing street youth is “You punks get a job!” or “Get rid of the attitude and go back home.” What people do not realize is that youth on the street are rarely there by choice. They are often forced to leave an abusive or oppressive household or care facility. Many have never had a home or family. After foster care hopping, many youth eventually decide a life of streets may be the safest choice.

Over the past 3 months, CERA Ottawa, with the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario, has offered a weekly outreach program at Operation Come Home, a youth drop-in facility in the downtown core. This program enables us to bring our services directly to the youth who need them. While speaking about housing and discrimination issues, youth often share experiences that are both heartbreaking and inspirational. Many of the youth we speak with have been in and out of foster care and group homes and have survived numerous instances of abuse. Despite this, they are now doing their best to “make life happen.” 

I find it inspirational to watch these young souls doing their best at 17 to write a resume, apply for jobs, start their own business, call landlords and find an apartment, meet their social assistance worker, attend to health needs, and take care of daily hygiene, nutrition and sleep requirements – all while balancing mental health issues from years of abuse. I know many individuals (and I’m sure you do too), who at 20, with the emotional and financial support of their parents and family, can hardly get it together. Society hardly blinks at them, while the youth of the street are barked at for being “lazy.”

In the last session I posed the question, “what does it mean to be homeless in lower town?” The responses were interesting. A female participant, aged 18, responded eagerly, stating that “Living in lower town makes it easy to be homeless.” She continued, “The Salvation Army will give you sleeping bags for free, you can eat for free at a number of drop-ins, and you can shower at the YSB [Youth Service Bureau].” While these services are critical, the young woman emphasized that, “We need more services that actually help us get a home.” Another participant, male, aged 22, added, “when you’re homeless, Ontario Works only gives you $200.00 for your basic needs. Try eating three meals a day for a month with $200.00. It doesn’t work. But if I had a home, I could maybe buy enough Kraft dinner to last me a month, and I could cook food from the food bank.”  

The youth maintained that the most important thing in their lives is a safe, clean, and affordable home. With a housing allowance of $356/month, rental options are scarce. Many youth end up in rooming houses. A female youth, who had been homeless on and off for five years, stated, “You don’t know what it’s like to live in a dirty rooming house, with mice and cockroaches, and creepy unknowns opening your door in the middle of the night; it’s not safe, and it makes you feel sad. That is where I live.”

A male participant, aged 19, stated, “We need a system that works, more services that help us find housing we can afford, and landlords who will actually rent to us.” He continued, “I finally found a landlord that would rent to me, but because Ontario Works thinks I’m homeless, they only give me $200.00/month. When I tried to contact my worker to say I found a landlord that will rent to me, and to please give me my housing allowance, my worker took so long to call me back that the landlord rented to someone else.”

The youth we meet face a number of barriers to housing which can make homelessness almost inevitable. There is nothing easy about being young without a secure, stable, safe, and affordable place to live. The barriers in the social welfare system combined with the discrimination they face for being part of societies “unwanted” often make a life on the streets the only option.

So, when you encounter a young person on the street, don’t be quick to make assumptions. Take time to ask how they are doing, and if they know where they can find the services they need. Don’t be afraid to smile or share what’s in your heart and your pocket. The world needs change.