Tag Archives: homelessness

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




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


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.


CERA Presents to Legislative Committee on Province’s Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy

The Province of Ontario released its Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy in late 2010.  Bill 140, Strong Communities Through Affordable Housing Act, 2011, legislation which has passed 2nd reading and is now before the Legislature at the Comittee on Justice Policy, is the implementing legislation for the Housing Strategy.

CERA and the Social Rights Advocacy Centre (SRAC) appeared before the Committee on 24 March 2011, to encourage the Committee to adopt a series of amendments to Bill 140 to ensure that it is in keeping with the provinces’ commitments under international human rights law.

CERA provided an overview of the 5 components that Bill 140 must include to ensure it is in compliance with international human rights standards based on what UN human rights bodies and officials have indicated must be in a housing strategy.  SRAC then provided the Committee with an overview of practical amendments that could be made to Bill 140 to integrate the 5 components.   Both the Wellesley Institute and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario submissions were supportive of this approach.

Committee members from all three parties expressed interest in the CERA and SRAC presentations and the suggested amendments.  CERA and SRAC will  work collaboratively with other organizations concerned with housing rights and will continue to press for human rights amendments to Bill 140.  For more on human rights accountability of the province and Bill 140 click here.

CERA’s presentation

Summary of UN Consensus

SRAC’s presentation

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario presentation

Bill C304: A National Housing Strategy

Bill C304: A National Housing Strategy

They said it couldn’t be done. The Bloc Québécois would never change its mind and support Bill C-304, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, without an exemption and compensation clause. And, without Bloc support for the Bill, it was certain to die on 3rd reading as the NDP and Liberals don’t have enough MPs to carry a vote and the Conservatives appear to be categorically opposed to the Bill.

On 20 October 2010, the Bloc did precisely what everyone said they wouldn’t.  They changed their position.  In the first hour of debate at 3rd reading of the Bill, the Bloc indicated that they would support the Bill if it included a simple amendment attesting to their unique expertise and jurisdiction in the area of housing.  As a result, Bill C304 went from being well meaning but ultimately doomed dream to a possible reality.

What was the catalyst for this about-face? Was it the inclusion of human rights principles in the Bill – principles the Bloc believes in and is proud of – and thus reluctant to vote against?  Was it that Quebec housing groups articulated, in no uncertain terms, that they wanted the Bloc to support this Bill? Was it that dozens of national organizations endorsed the Bill? Was it the cross-country day of action – the Red Tent Campaign – held in cities the day before third reading? Was it pressure from the NPD and Liberals who had invested considerably in the Bill?

In all likelihood there was no single catalyst. It was, probably, the result a confluence of all of these factors and pressures. But what we do know is that it didn’t come about by luck or chance.  These days, political victories for marginalized groups, even relatively small victories of this nature, are only won when individuals, organizations, communities and government officials of different political stripes, share a vision, collaborate and work hard till the bitter end.

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.