In speaking to some at the Congress, the push to Housing First and the initial supports provided are important to getting someone housed. It is also more important to recognize that the funding for Housing First and the subsequent supports dwindle over time. This can be disastrous for those who have been recently housed. Mental illness and addictions do not go away, they are managed on a daily basis, and it is a constant balancing act that can have the scale tipped in any direction by various triggers. I know, I struggle with this daily! (Most days I manage fairly well, yet I do have days where my old coping mechanisms rear their ugly head, then it’s a fight.)
Day two: the first workshop that I attended was How Research, Business and Municipal Tools Can Create Housing Opportunities in Small/Rural Communities. This workshop was of particular interest to me because I have been collaborating with LiveTiny Canada for two years now.
The developer of this national resource for All Things Tiny, Matt Standen, and I have submitted a Proposal for Presentation to the Canadian Rural Revitalization Conference, which has been accepted. The two community research projects that this workshop focused on were:
- from Cape Breton Regional Municipality: they shared a service based count and rental housing inventory, along with their research tools and multi-sectoral partnership; and
- the Alberta Rural Development Network: they shared how they grew from a voluntary university-led initiative into a non-profit agency, working to redefine limitations on building affordable housing through their Sustainable Housing initiative.
CitySpaces Consulting Ltd. shared their work using scalable methodologies and tools for municipalities to support communities with their affordable housing development needs. All of this was extremely informative and insightful into the challenges being met in Small/Rural Communities.
The afternoon covered a screening of the new documentary Us and Them. I wish that this lm be screened here, in Ottawa, for the general public. It took the filmmaker Krista Loughton ten years to produce it. In her introduction, she said: “I wanted to make a difference in these people’s lives. In fact, they made a difference in mine!’’ It was very difficult for me to watch, as I have personally experienced much of what if revealed. This lm will change what we think we see when we see a per- son who is homeless!
The work is not done! I left Halifax feeling full of gratitude for those who work and advocate daily in this service sector. Joyful for all the personal connections that I had the opportunity to make. Hopeful for the future, that we are moving in the right direction.