HOUSING IS A COMMUNITY ISSUE: FOSTERING INNOVATION TOWARD VIBRANT NEIGHBOURHOODS

In collaboration with community, family and Regional partners, we plan to take practical steps at several different levels in order to foster innovation and proactively influence and build the strong, resilient and vibrant community in these two areas of the Eastern Region that is necessary in order for people with disabilities (as well as other vulnerable groups) to be welcomed and included as contributing neighbours across the Region. This will be a legacy of innovation that will long outlast the timelines of this project.

  • In each Region, this project will engage a dedicated housing resource to assist 4-6 families over the two years in their individual, person-centered approach to securing housing solutions through networking and using typical community resources (realtors, banks, etc.), thereby providing inspiration and examples to others of ways to work within current capacity creatively. This will demonstrate how to maximize current capacity in each Region and show that there is still possibility for some movement in housing even in tough times. One person at time, the individual and family will be assisted by a part time skilled Community Housing
    Options Coordinator to describe the kinds of housing that would best suit the person, recognize their family resources available, call on personal networks for ideas and connections, meet with local bankers, real estate agents and other typical community resources, and creatively explore and develop local arrangements that work. This dynamic process based on the personal and local resources available to many will be captured by the Coordinator in order to share with other families into the future. In addition, the Coordinator will develop a Creative Home Choices planning package of information suitable for future families to begin the same kind of creative process on their own.
    Separate from the discussion about the type, location, and social aspects of home choices, the Coordinator will ensure that each individual and family have ample time to plan and consider the required supports necessary for the housing match that is sought. Some of the available supports (paid, unpaid, natural, and environmental) may limit a few of the housing options, but in ways that are no different from some of the natural limits any of us might have in choosing our style of housing. The Coordinator will do this work in conjunction with the longer term planning and facilitation supports available to each person (family, DAFRS facilitator, BDACI, other).

  • In each Region, the project will engage a part time Vibrant Neighbourhood Promoter to support a small formal family group to expand current housing options in each Region by partnering with local developers for a new build/acquisition with creative plans for sustainability. In Durham this will be a more recent family group that intends to work on a larger rental housing project; in Leeds and Grenville, the more established CIHL The Vibrant Neighbourhood Promoter will also provide general support to each family project to guide them through developing a working and trusting relationship with the Region, with the private developer, and with other private corporations as necessary (financing, etc.). While two years may not see the completion of the project, it should be sufficient for the family group to move ahead on their own beyond that point, with informal supports from the lead agency/BDACI and other successful groups in the region such as Deohaeko Support Network, CILH in Brockville and the individual family supports that are currently provided through DAFRS/BDACI).In addition, in Durham what is innovative and exciting about this model is that without agency oversight, the family group intends to move forward as a small, local family-governed Initiative that will be self-sustaining. As one family in the group may move on for various reasons (housing no longer suits the Individual, family moves to another region, death in the family, etc.),the group will interview and choose another family to take their place at both the governance and individual level. In this innovative family model, because this is small by intention, it will be quite possible for families to hold the family group – project interaction into the future.

  • In each Region, the project will also have the Vibrant Neighbourhood Promoter (supported by families)skilled in systems navigation and planning, engage in conversations with and work in partnership with the Region in order to be a part of community housing solutions to increase current housing stock and options for all. This will add a missing voice at Regional planning tables to ensure that diverse, vibrant, inclusive neighbourhoods result. The project will help others in housing and planning understand and then articulate the conditions under which people are included and accommodated but not congregated. This could include work at describing limits on percentages of units in projects, limits on numbers of social partners per project, and some targets to encourage a mix of economic income levels in order to ensure inclusion and diversity. This could also include understanding the contribution of people with disabilities, the growth of resiliency through diversity, and knowing about working examples across the Region and the province. Past successful projects have given the Region an understanding of the conditions under which vibrant neighbours may grow, and an interest with working with us on this project. These discussions will lead to the fair and effective articulation of criteria for percentage of dedicated units, market-rent unit targets, numbers of social partners, etc., that will provide a basic framework for the successful mixture of economic and social factors to build strong and resilient neighbourhoods. This same Promoter in each Region will work with Regional Housing in order to better understand the current system of rental supplements and grants available in the Region to ensure that a suitable number remain available to people with disabilities at all times, or to make recommendations for a better option. The complexity of housing information and systems will be better understood by families who want and need to navigate the system.

  • The project will ensure that families in both Regions benefit from these innovative process by planning an array of ways to share the information and learning beyond the immediate families in the project – a formal schedule of ongoing contact between Regions, an Eastern Housing Forum during the last 6 months of the project in order to share information with each other, and families in both Regions, open to other families, agencies, and housing services who may wish to learn from the project. In addition, part of our learning will be to follow the set of assumptions embedded in the project (see Objectives and Rationale above) and a final report will reflect our further learning on the innovative framework of this proposal.

Janet Klees – Housing is a Community Issue

Janet Klees, Executive Director of Durham Association for Family Respite Services, describes the “Housing is a Community Issue” project.