Category Archives: Legal Issues

Welcoming new staff!

CERA is very pleased to announce the addition of three talented new staff members to our team! We are excited to be building the organization, and look forward to working with Erin, Janice, and Rozeta to continue advocating for improved housing conditions and the promotion of human rights across Ontario.

Rozeta Aleksov, Program Manager – Youth Housing Rights | Rozeta started her social engagement as a peace builder, youth and women’s rights activist in Serbia. Wanting to maximize the impact of her actions, in 2006 she joined the National Association of Local Authorities, where she was advocating for gender equity and a human rights-based approach in a broad range of policies and services. At the same time, she facilitated networking and collaboration on the national and European level. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration, Local Governance and Public Policies, from the University of Belgrade. She is passionate about achieving social justice through transforming mindsets and organizations, and navigating systemic change while empowering people, especially equity seeking groups.

Janice Campbell, Program Manager – Women’s Housing Rights | Janice supports CERA’s ongoing and dynamic work regarding Women’s Housing Rights. She brings education, communities of practice, business optimization, a thorough understanding of contemporary housing systems, subject matter expertise from a social housing delivery perspective, as well as experience working with local, provincial and federal governments, Indigenous peoples and First Nation partners. Janice enjoys working with diverse community stakeholders and looks forward to continuing her work in the housing sector, as informed by her LGBTQ2 lived experience and from her social-justice seeking feminist lens, by contributing to CERA’s mission and working towards a community-driven, government-supported, human rights-based platform of equality while offering innovative and “about time” solutions to some of our most complex social challenges that will improve housing outcomes for all people.

Erin Walker, Case Worker and Project Coordinator | Erin has an undergraduate degree in History from the University of Western Ontario, a Child and Youth Work diploma from Humber College, and a Masters of Child Study and Education from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care. Erin comes to CERA with 10 years of experience in the youth homelessness sector and the strong belief that stable, affordable housing is a human right that all marginalized populations should be able to access.

Today is Giving Tuesday, and there are many reasons to give to CERA

Did you know that less than 5% of CERA’s annual budget comes from donations? 

In 2018, we:

  • provided free legal information and advocacy supports to over 1300Ontario renters facing eviction or discrimination
  • delivered over 70 education workshops in eight Ontario communities, and continued to develop our unique and responsive plain-language resources for renters
  • established 17+ new formal partnerships with allies to expand our impact across Ontario
  • participated in numerous consultations, including for Canada’s National Housing Strategy and the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Canada

Almost all of our funding is tied directly to our project work, which allows us to engage in meaningful initiatives dedicated to improving equity in housing, but it also means that we have very little space to respond to urgent or emerging situations on the ground.

As 2018 comes to an end, we are turning to you for help to increase our capacity to respond quickly to emerging priorities and key issues in human rights in housing in the year ahead. Your donation will support responsive legal actions, public advocacy, research and policy development in 2019 – the important, time sensitive work that our project funding doesn’t cover.

Can you commit to defending equality in rental housing in Ontario with a donation of $20, $100, or $250 – or any amount meaningful to you?

Thank you for your generous support.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Brierley
Executive Director and General Counsel

Support CERA today!

 

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