A revamped strategy endorsed by way of a resolution by the local Community Advisory Board — with an aim to prevent and reduce homelessness across Canada — has piqued the interest of at least one member of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB).
According to a report from Stacey Cyopeck, Director of Housing Programs for DNSSAB, Recovery for All is a national advocacy campaign designed by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) asking Canadians to "encourage the federal government to make strong investments in housing, homelessness and income support to end homelessness in Canada."
"This got my attention," said board member and North Bay City Councillor Scott Robertson. "This is the kind of advocacy that I've been talking about from the beginning...We recognize it's not realistic to find a regional solution to this massive problem. We need the federal government's support for this."
In pushing his colleagues to follow suit with a resolution of their own, Robertson said, "I look to the leadership of the chair [of the board] and the chair of the community services committee to bring this forward to the DNSSAB so we can back them up with a resolution of our own."
The main objective of the CAEH Recovery for All Campaign is to "ensure a decent and affordable home regardless of circumstance," and the campaign is committed to working with the government and communities to end homelessness in Canada by 2030. To reach this target, the campaign "recommends a substantial increase in federal funding directed to end homelessness, supported by actions from provincial, territorial and municipal governments."
The CAEH Recovery for All Campaign aims to implement a rapid, achievable and cost-effective approach to ending homelessness through a six-point plan:
- A federal commitment (with timelines and targets) to the prevention and elimination of homelessness with expanded federal investment in community-based homelessness responses.
- A national guaranteed minimum income to ensure those in greatest need have minimum financial resources to help them meet their basic needs and prevent homelessness when times are tough.
- Construction of over 300,000 new permanently affordable and supportive housing units and enhanced rental support for low-income Canadians to address Canada’s housing and homelessness crisis.
- Meaningful implementation of the right to housing to surface and resolve inequities and systemic/structural breakdowns that contribute to homelessness and housing need.
- Implementation of measures to curtail the impacts of financialization of rental housing markets by limiting the ability of large capital funds to purchase "distressed" rental housing assets.
- Implementation of an Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing and Homelessness Strategy that is developed and implemented by urban, rural and Northern Indigenous peoples and housing service providers.
Robertson noted the CAB's resolution in support of Recovery for All "provides direction on how to address [homelessness] in a meaningful way."
The CAB (Community Advisory Board) and NDHHP (Nipissing District Housing and Homelessness Partnership) are one and the same, made up of representatives from organizations such as the Health Unit and agencies like LIPI and NMHHSS. DNSSAB Housing Programs serves as the "community entity" on the board.
The federal government provides the funding through the community entity or DNSSAB and the CAB helps determine the priorities, issues the RFPs, and evaluates the proposals. The CAB then makes recommendations to DNSSAB for the final funding approval. As Cyopeck simplified, the CAB makes recommendations through the DNSSAB about Reaching Home funding and addressing matters of homelessness.
"They put together this unbelievable resolution that speaks specifically about our local issue," said Robertson. "It goes right into the core of what is going on in our own region...I really think it's important we support the CAB in this resolution."
As mentioned in the resolution, Nipissing District is in need of more and varied affordable housing options, including transitional and supportive housing, to meet the unique needs of urban and rural populations. In January, there were 1,441 applicants on the centralized waiting list for affordable housing in Nipissing District. According to DNSSAB's 5 Year Review of the 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan, 15.5 per cent of households in Nipissing District and up to 33.7 per cent of households in Mattawa were in core housing need — that is living in dwellings that were unsuitable, inadequate, or unaffordable.
Robertson encouraged the municipal council members who also sit on the DNSSAB to bring the resolution to their own towns, something he stated he would be doing in North Bay.
"There is no endless pot of money," observed Robertson in a nod to Chair Mark King's earlier pronouncement on funding priorities during the April 28 meeting. "There is no simple local solution to this. We spend the most amount of time on this issue. Here's a framework on how to advocate for a solution. We cannot miss this opportunity."