Category Archives: Legal Issues

CERA is Hiring – Join Our Team!

Human Rights and Housing Caseworker and Project Manager / Coordinator

Application Deadline: November 27, 2018

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) is hiring a Human Rights and Housing Caseworker and Project Manager / Coordinator.

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to preventing evictions and ending housing discrimination across Ontario. CERA was founded in 1987 as the only organization in Canada with a primary focus on promoting human rights in housing. We use human rights tools to combat housing insecurity and homelessness across Ontario. We work with tenants, housing providers, community partners and the public to build awareness about housing rights, and to build the capacity of Ontarians to recognize and defend their human rights.

Our model for change-making involves the following interventions, which we accomplish through time-limited project funding and donor support:

  • Unique Services for Tenants: Our direct service model is primarily phone-based, and serves 1,200-1,500 marginalized renters per year. Our intake services are fast and responsive, and we engage clients as team members in creative problem-solving as we work to prevent homelessness and overcome discrimination.
  • Creative Public Engagement and Education: Our innovative outreach approach responds to real needs across Ontario. CERA knows that partnerships make us stronger, and we work closely with groups across the province to reach those in need of our unique services.
  • Legal Initiatives that Challenge the Housing Status Quo: In addition to on-the-ground supports for individuals and communities, CERA engages in litigation to improve housing policy and set legal precedents that advance housing rights and the right to housing.

About the role:

This is a dual role, supporting CERA’s Housing Access, Stabilization, and Eviction Prevention (HASEP) Program as a caseworker, as well as CERA’s projects addressing human rights and equity in housing as a Project Manager / Project Coordinator (dependent on experience).

Human Rights and Housing Caseworker

The Human Rights and Housing Caseworker will support CERA’s HASEP program by providing direct services to clients and facilitating public education workshops. The HASEP program provides assistance to tenants facing eviction or discrimination in housing through our telephone and email-based eviction prevention and human rights intake program and provides the following services:

  • Educating renters about their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Human Rights Code.
  • Providing information to renters who are facing imminent eviction from their homes.
  • Assisting renters who are experiencing discrimination when attempting to access or maintain housing.
  • Assisting renters who are experiencing discriminatory harassment.
  • Assisting renters to make accommodation requests to their landlord under the Code through advocating with housing providers.
  • Referring renters to income support services, housing help, counseling services, legal services and other supports they need.
  • Delivering 50+ public education workshops across Toronto each year.

Primary Responsibilities of the Human Rights and Housing Caseworker:

  • Providing legal information related to the eviction process, eviction prevention and human rights in housing over the phone and via email.
  • Identifying issues and providing guided referrals to other services that can help service users.
  • Providing ongoing assistance and case management services to clients facing discrimination and requiring human rights-related accommodations.
  • Advocating (both orally and in writing) with housing providers or their representatives on behalf of renters.
  • Keeping accurate, up-to-date case notes, including statistical data, and entering data into relevant data management systems.
  • Assisting with community outreach, facilitating workshops and conducting presentations and information sessions across the GTA when necessary.
  • Performing other duties as may be assigned from time to time.

Human Rights and Housing Project Manager / Coordinator

The Human Rights and Housing Project Manager / Coordinator is responsible for the overall delivery, management and implementation of projects in accordance with funding agreements and CERA operating procedures. They are responsible for establishing collaborative and effective working relationships with partner organizations to ensure that project activities are planned and implemented effectively and will represent CERA with donors, partners, and other stakeholders.

Primary Responsibilities of the Human Rights and Housing Project Manager / Coordinator:

  • Managing and delivering projects in accordance with the project agreement
  • Managing and administering the project budget
  • Monitoring and adjusting the project timelines
  • Preparing reports on financials and outcomes for the donor as needed
  • Managing and directing staff assigned to the project
  • Maintaining an up-to-date understanding of the policy and political landscape as it relates to the subject matter of the project
  • Preparing communications and documentation about the project for funders and relevant external audiences;
  • Identifying and leveraging opportunities for coordination / knowledge sharing with key stakeholders.
  • Actively monitoring and implementing measures to prevent and mitigate reputational and other risks  

Qualifications of the Human Rights and Housing Caseworker and Project Manager / Coordinator:

  • University degree or College diploma in a related field.
  • A minimum of two years of relevant work experience that includes providing assistance to or working with marginalized groups and/or providing housing and/or human rights services.
  • Demonstrated ability to problem solve, facilitate resolutions and mediate conflict.
  • Knowledge of barriers facing equity-seeking groups in housing, including but not limited to marginalized women, youth and persons with disabilities.
  • Ability to keep accurate, up-to-date records, enter data into a data management system and manage multiple timelines.
  • Strong time management and project management skills.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, with an ability to communicate directly with diverse service users, the general public, and prepare narrative and financial reports for project donors;
  • Political acumen, diplomacy, discretion, good judgement, cultural sensitivity.
  • Ability to work well and cooperatively in a small interdisciplinary team.
  • Knowledge of the housing and social sector is required; knowledge of community resources related to housing is an asset.
  • Working proficiency in languages other than English is an asset. 

Hours and Compensation:

  • The hiring range for this position is $36,000 – $44,000 and it is a term contract ending March 31, 2020 with the possibility of an extension.
  • The position will be full-time until March 31, 2019 (35 hour per week), after which time it will continue as a part-time position at 24.5 hours per week, with flexibility as to which days of the week would be required. There is a possibility that it could continue as a full-time position after March 31, 2019.
  • CERA will also consider applicants from individuals interested in the position on a part-time basis (24.5 hours / week) for the entirety of the contract.

To apply for this job:

Please submit a resume and cover letter, quoting the position title in the subject line to:

Hiring Committee

Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation

427-192 Spadina Avenue Toronto ON M5T 2C2

Email: cera@equalityrights.org

CERA welcomes applications from diverse individuals who self-identify on the basis of any of the protected grounds under the Human Rights Code. We are committed to full compliance with the Human Rights Code, the Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and all other applicable legislation. We will provide accommodation during the hiring process upon request. Information received relating to accommodation measures will be addressed confidentially.

Call for CERA’s Board of Directors

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) was founded in 1987
as a province-wide, not-for-profit charity dedicated to promoting human rights and ending discrimination in housing. Our public education and outreach initiatives work to intervene in cycles of discrimination that disproportionately affect low-income and marginalized individuals in the housing market.

Through public education, research, law reform, casework and advocacy on behalf of clients and occasional test-case litigation, CERA works to address barriers that prevent individuals from accessing and maintaining housing. Our Housing Access, Stabilization and Eviction Prevention Hotline provides individuals with information, referrals and assistance with regard to housing matters and serves approximately 1,500 clients per year.

In addition to our casework and public education initiatives, CERA engages in community-responsive projects to support vulnerable groups in maintaining housing and realizing their human rights in housing. This includes research into housing and human rights issues and support of the enforcement of human rights by provincial, national and international commissions, agencies and organizations. CERA recognizes and advocates for the right to housing and the realization of human rights in all aspects of housing.

Our Vision

CERA envisions an Ontario where every person realizes their housing rights, is treated with dignity, and lives free from discrimination in a stable, safe and affordable home.

Our Mission

CERA advances the right to housing without discrimination. We do this by:

  1. Educating individuals and communities on the intersection between human rights and housing law;
  2. Engaging in advocacy and supporting individuals in realizing their human rights in housing; and
  3. Promoting inclusive housing law and policy.

Board of Directors Search

CERA is currently recruiting for a Treasurer of the Board, as well as up to four additional general board members willing to contribute their expertise to our dynamic team. We are particularly interested in candidates who have experience in and are willing to contribute to CERA’s fundraising efforts, financial management, strategic communications, and assisting in leveraging relationships to develop creative, sustainable partnerships.

We are seeking individuals who share our commitment to protecting human rights, equality rights and social and economic rights, including the right to adequate housing, and who are able to actively participate in regular board meetings.

If you are or know someone who with an interest in human rights and housing, with a background in any of the areas above, CERA would like to hear from you!

CERA is also interested in broadening the diversity of our Board of Directors and are excited to receive applications from individuals from equity seeking groups.

Successful candidates will:

  • Serve at least one two-year term from 2019 to 2021;
  • Attend monthly board meetings on the 1st Wednesday of every month;
  • Participate on board committees as needed;
  • Have a passion for our Mission and Vision; and
  • Have an understanding or lived experience of the communities that we serve.

To apply to the CERA Board of Directors, please email a brief statement of interest along with your resume to cera@equalityrights.org

Application Deadline: November 30, 2018

Thank you for your interest and support of our work!

CERA welcomes Alyssa Brierley as Executive Director and General Counsel

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) is delighted to announce that Alyssa Brierley has joined our team as Executive Director and General Counsel as of October 2018.

Alyssa is a lawyer and public policy professional with ten years of experience in legal service, public policy, politics, human rights and research. Prior to joining CERA, Alyssa served as the health, social, justice and labour policy advisor to the President of the Treasury Board of Ontario, the Director of Policy to Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, an advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, as a lawyer and policy analyst at the Ontario College of Teachers, and as an articling student at one of Canada’s largest law firms. She also has extensive experience in electoral politics at the local riding association level, as a candidate, campaign manager and senior political staff member. Alyssa holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo, a Master of Arts in Political Science from York University and a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School. She is also completing a Ph.D. in Political Science at York University, in which she is investigating strategic litigation in India and the development of a right to food.

“It’s an honour to lead this incredible organization and to have the opportunity to build on CERA’s legacy of advancing human rights in housing and the right to housing,” says Brierley. “I look forward to continuing CERA’s tradition of direct service, litigation, advocacy and public education on what I believe to be the most crucial social rights issue of our time.”

CERA’s board chair Jenny Neiman is excited about Alyssa’s appointment. “Alyssa’s skills in public policy, advocacy and organizational management will be great assets to the organization as will her energy and vision.”

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation envisions an Ontario where every person realizes their housing rights, is treated with dignity, and lives free from discrimination in a stable, safe and affordable home. We defend housing rights and human rights by educating individuals and communities, supporting progressive and inclusive housing law and policy, and providing free legal information and informal advocacy supports to marginalized Ontarians.

For media inquiries, please contact Alyssa Brierley at alyssa[at]equalityrights.org or416-944-0087 ext 2.

 

Know Your Housing Rights Sessions for Sex Workers


Project Update – Thank you to Maggie’s, South Riverdale Community Health Centre and Regent Park Community Health Centre for hosting CERA’s housing rights sessions for sex workers over the past six weeks. Special thank you to all the participants for sharing their housing experiences and learning about their legal rights as tenant.

Whenever possible, CERA uses creative models of legal education to engage with communities in meaningful ways. 100% of participants said the sessions gave them a better understanding of their rights in housing. 74% said the information they learned will significantly benefit their lives.

The collaborative sessions combined legal education about housing rights with mural making, led by community artist Catherine Moeller.

What we heard from participants about the mural making:

  • “Great alternative way to express what I have learned.”
  • “It brought people together and it helped express feeling through art.”
  • “Provided a means of expression for those who are less verbal.”
  • “Yes it allowed me and participants to illustrate what a city of inclusion means to them.”

You’ll be able to check out the murals on display the last week of March, location to be announced shortly!

Thank you to the Law Foundation of Ontario.

 

New initiative – CERA working with sex workers on housing rights issues

Making Room, Creating Place: Announcing arts-based human rights legal education for sex workers.

This Wednesday, CERA will be joining Maggie’s Sex Workers Action Project for our first housing rights workshop for street-involved sex workers. During these workshops, participants will learn about their housing rights under law; learn skills to self-advocate; creatively engage with artistic message-making strategies.

We are excited to be working the wonderful folks at Maggie’s, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, and Regent Park Community Health Centre.  And we’re excited to learn from participants about their experiences.

We know that sex workers face intersectional discrimination all the time, along with significant and distinct barriers to housing. In a survey of 34 sex workers, we heard that:

  • 61% (of 24 responses) have faced discrimination from a landlord
  • 34% face unaffordable rents
  • 67% have ongoing issues with pests
  • 56% have faced eviction
  • 47% have been denied a unit because of their income source
  • Most respondents said they feel landlords treat them differently for reasons related to their work.

In six sessions over the coming weeks we will be discussing these issues and thinking creatively about self-advocacy. Stay tuned for updates!

Thank you for support from:

apartment building

Eviction Prevention for Seniors Initiative – Ways to Participate

Did you know that the number of homeless seniors in Toronto doubled between 2009 and 2013? And that at least 10% of the homeless population of Toronto are older adults?

CERA is working with seniors across the GTA to identify eviction prevention strategies that work for them. We need to hear from senior tenants and their service providers. Join the conversation!

Upcoming Round-Table Sessions & Ways to Participate:

For Senior and Older Adult Tenants:

Round Tables will include a free lunch for participants, and TTC tickets will be provided. Spaces is limited. Please RSVP to 416-944-0087 Ext 3. Please let us know of any accommodations or translation needs in advance.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016  from 1:00-3:00 pm at Bathurst & Finch Hub, 540 Finch Ave West

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 from 9:30-11:30am at the Newmarket Seniors Meeting Place, Hall #1, 474 Davis Drive

Can’t attend a roundtable? You can share your story and thoughts in a variety of ways – fill out a tenant survey online or print a copy to mail in or contact us directly.

For Service Providers & Workers:

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 from 9:00am-11:30am at CSI Spadina, 215 Spadina Ave, 4th Floor. Light breakfast will be served.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016 from 9:30am-12:00pm at Bathurst & Finch Hub, 540 Finch Ave West.  Light breakfast will be served.

Can’t attend a roundtable? We are also seeking  feedback from service providers – please take five minutes to fill out our survey for service provideror stay tuned for opportunities to join the conversation online.

*Please RSVP to katie@equalityrights.org  or 416-944-0087 ext 3 or by Eventbrite.

*This page will be updated as additional sessions are scheduled

 

 

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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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CERA pens Open Letter to the Prime Minister

Read CERA’s open letter to the Canadian government following the release of the UN’s report on Canada on March 7th, 2016.

How well is Canada doing as a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?  According to CERA’s ED Renee Griffin, we can and must do better.

Contact your local MP and tell them that you want to see resources to implement the UN’s recommendations on the right to housing included in the upcoming budget on March 22nd! Find your MP’s contact information here.

For more about the UN’s report on Canada, check out these news stories:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/03/07/un-raises-concern-over-canadas-persistent-housing-crisis.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/un-housing-crisis-1.3480979

NEW RESOURCE EXPLAINS THE AODA TO LANDLORDS

RECENTLY RELEASED: Unlocking the AODA – Landlords’ Obligations Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

These resources are designed to assist small-to-medium-sized landlords in implementing the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. These resources were produced by CERA with support from the Government of Ontario.

Unlocking the AODA – Guide for Landlords 

Unlocking the AODA – Toolkit for Landlords 

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