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A monthly publication by the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative (CRIHI)

Dear Friends,

Happy February! We trust you and your families are staying warm in this cold. Please stay mindful of those who are under-housed in this season, and those who find it cold for reasons other than weather.

We hope you will join us in prayer this month, as the year ahead promises to be one of exciting changes and developments; with new policy and commitments being made, and funding for new developments beginning to flow. Let's seek the Creator's wisdom together for all that is coming.

This month's Neighbourly features a profile of Westwood Manor, an example of Permanent Supportive Housing. We'll also look at some of the moneys and metrics announced in the new federal National Housing Strategy released last November.  We invite you to come for a tour of Westmount Presbyterian's new church and multi-family housing development to learn how this house of worship put their land to good use.  

And we are in the midst of two major campaigns: This year's Interfaith Habitat Works, and a volunteer-raising effort for Welcome Home; a powerful program providing friendship to those finding off the street into housing.


Lots of beautiful work underway! We are glad to work together to make it happen!

Batya and Mike

February 2018

 

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Call to Prayer 

  • PSH Feature: Westwood Manor 

  • Westmount Presbyterian Tour Invite, February 20, 2018

  • National Housing Strategy: Moneys and Metrics

  • Action Highlight: Featuring CRIHI's Two Campaigns:
    'You Can!' and 'Compassion Into Action'

  • Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities


 
A Call to Prayer

What follows is a Christian prayer, but we invite you to speak the words and make it your own.


Father God, 

We come to you to seek your wisdom and guidance for the work ahead.  We are thankful that Edmonton is a wonderful city, known for its' warmth and compassion, despite a cold and sometimes hostile climate.  We are thankful for the energy and commitment of her leadership and her citizens.  And we are thankful that we are together able to call this place home.

Lord God, life together is rarely easy.  And despite our general warmth as a community, we acknowledge the presence of many walls that divide us. 

Fear of difference.  Fear of change.  Fear of the other.  Fear of the future.

Anger at those who have hurt us.  Anger at changes we do not welcome.  Anger at even our own loneliness, weariness, and sadness.

Father God, we know the future is in your hands, and yet we know you also call us to value wisdom, to live with generosity and compassion and to both do and seek justice.  

Today, we ask for your help with these things.
We pray for wisdom for those serving as our leaders in City Council and in both our Legislature and Parliament; as they craft policy and try to steer the narrow path to a healthy, compassionate and strong community of citizens.  Give them clarity and insight in both defending the vulnerable, and encouraging the powerful in a direction that will see all flourish.

We pray for a spirit of generosity and sacrifice to fill the sails of community, and to propel our efforts to provide for those most in need of love and care.  That efforts will not fall flat because we all say, 'someone else will pay for it.' 

And we pray you will strengthen your minds, hearts and hands to both do and seek justice.  Make us good listeners to the cares and concerns of everyone involved.  Give us clarity of sight and judgment as to what is good and right.  And help us in every case to take the side of healthy, compassionate and caring community; where all are welcomed, are cared for, and are given space to live, work, play, heal, and contribute to our common good. 

May your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven,

In the mighty name of Jesus. Savior, Teacher, Redeemer, King, and Friend.

Amen.

By Pastor Mike Van Boom

PSH Feature: Westwood Manor 
Innovative Efforts Helping People Heal 

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a frontline concern in our city; with close to one thousand new units desperately needed.  Political backing and funding are lining up at all three levels of government to fill this critical gap in our response to prevent and end homelessness.  These facilities are meaningful and effective solutions; provide safe and supportive community for people carrying some of the most difficult and complex burdens; barriers that continually jeopardize their health and their ability to retain work and housing.  For these folks, a PSH facility is a space to find healing, hope and community.   

But as efforts ramp up to build these facilities, questions abound: What might this look like?  How will it fit into the local neighbourhood?  What will be the impact be on the local community?
Today’s PSH story feature is Westwood Manor; located in the Westwood community, east of the old municipal airport.  A few years ago, the Mustard Seed purchased and renovated a small ageing apartment building in the Westwood Community.  It was fairly run down, and an eyesore in this mature neighbourhood.   Today, this newly renovated facility is home and supportive community for twenty people with a range of complex needs, including drug and alcohol addictions, trauma and mental health barriers like schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and chronic depression.



Westwood Manor is rated as a fairly high acuity PSH.  That means they have some higher needs folks living there.  As with all PSH, supports are located on-site; including 24-hour staffing.  Westwood Manor is also a harm-reduction facility, which means that a person’s housing is not dependent on maintaining their sobriety or abstinence.  Tenants have access to sterilized needles and other supplies that will allow them to use safely. 

Mustard Seed owns the building, but staffing ratios and operating dollars come from Homeward Trust, with people referred through the Coordinated Access System; that links all such efforts across Edmonton.

A priority in this facility is the creation of intentional community for their residents; not only within the facility but in the local neighbourhood as well.  The lack of community and healthy relationship has long been recognized as a root cause of both addiction and mental health challenges.  Landon Hildebrand, the facility manager notes that they have seen exciting change already, with significant health improvements.  He says, “Joy, community, attachment…when we provide these things, the addictions have less appeal.””

He notes that mental health concerns are present in every community, but are more raw and hyper-realized in the most vulnerable.  The ability to hide it is just not there.

Their efforts at providing community include building a relationship with local neighbours.  Westwood staff approached the Westwood Community League to learn about getting more involved, and they were welcomed with open arms.  The Community League provided them with a family membership to cover all their residents, and now they are able to participate as volunteers and as full members in community league gatherings.



Westwood Manor staff also supported the creation of a resident’s committee (much like a condo board) that had authority to consider and respond to concerns.  Staff agreed to take all new policy or rule changes to this committee for their consideration.  This new way of doing things changed how residents related to staff and how they thought about their home.  It prompted a sense of ownership and responsibility in the facility; prompting greater care for the space, the grounds, and each other.  They want their home to be a warm, safe, and healthy environment.  Residents in this kind of leadership role have even helped resolve interpersonal conflicts.  It’s been a win, win, win for everyone!   Landon credits the success of this kind of approach as a direct counter to the myth that people in PSH can’t make good decisions.  “The more authority and leadership we give to our folks, the better they do.”

Westwood’s community-building efforts are a little tricky on some fronts, particularly as they have very little in the way of gathering space to hang out together.  When a suite is empty, the staff will often transform it into a place to hang out, and the office is one place people stop in to chat constantly.  They could also use a secure space where they can have those private and secure conversations, coaching, training, and supports. 

But things get much easier in the summer, when they can host outdoor BBQs and feasts, and invite the neighbours.  They also plan to start a community garden this coming year that they hope will promote natural connection between residents and local neighbours. 

Is their approach successful?  Landon shares the story of one gentleman whose almost daily ritual was being out panhandling for long hours, stuck in alcohol and substances.  He would get dropped off by EPS almost daily and carried back to his unit.  Now he is there at 3:00 everyday to hang out with the staff during shift change; so he can chat with both those going out and those coming in.  He’s also working to start a local snow shovelling business, and because he is a community league member is able to share some of his posters on the local bulletin board and in the community hall.

Certainly not everyone succeeds, and evictions happen occasionally.  Concerns around safety and difficult behaviors are usually the reason someone has to be removed.  Unfortunately, there are not many places for people to go if they are evicted.  The shortage of PSH in Edmonton means that few facilities are available and equipped to manage and care for people with more difficult behaviors. 
Westwood Manor’s story illustrates the value and effectiveness of Permanent Supportive Housing as a meaningful and effective solution.  She provides a place of healing, home, safety and stability for some of our most vulnerable people.  And the efforts by her residents and staff are a lesson in the powerful need we all have for a community where we participate and can take responsibility in shaping. 

Based on an Interview with Landon Hildebrand, A Registered Psychologist, Serving as Director of Housing and Clinic development.
 



CRIHI Invites You

to a Tour and Conversation at Westmount's Newly completed Church and Housing Redevelopment Project!


Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Starting at 10:00 AM

Westmount Presbyterian Church
13830-109A Avenue




Come and see firsthand what has been
all over the news!
 


We'll hear from Rev. Annabelle Wallace, who served as pastor of this congregation as it considered this idea, and began exploring it.  We'll meet the developer, Peter Amerongen, who can share some of the work done to make this net zero multi family housing complex a reality.  And we'll get to meet Rev. Janet Taylor, the new Pastor at Westmount Presbyterian to hear about some of the work ahead for their congregation and their community.

Come join us!  And Help spread the word by sharing our event on facebook!

Be sure to explore the website they have set up to share the of this project:
http://westmountpresbyterian.ca/housing-project/

Unpacking the National Housing Strategy
Moneys and Metrics  
 


Targets and Metrics
  • 530,000 families removed from housing need
  • 300,000 existing housing units repaired and renewed
  • 385,000 households protected from losing an affordable home
  • 100,000 new housing units (60,000 from Co-Investment Fund)
  • 7,000 shelter spaces created or repaired
  • 50,000 households benefit from an expansion of community housing eligibility
  • 300,000 households to receive direct housing subsidy
  • 50% reduction in use of homeless shelters
  • 25% reduction, energy consumption and GHG emissions
  • 20% of new units to meet accessibility standards
Observation:  These targets show a willingness to tackle the challenges of housing affordability and supports from several angles: helping prevent homelessness, renewing existing housing helps, creating new spaces, and moving intentionally away from emergency accommodation (ie. shelters) to stronger and more effective solutions (supportive housing).  The intent seems to be in harmony with efforts currently underway by the City of Edmonton, which seems to be a healthy and well-considered approach.



Investment Highlights
The NHS describes a total budget of $37 billion dollars in federal funding to support housing and homelessness programs. The funding commitments described in the strategy include:
  • $15.9-billion for a new National Housing Co-Investment Fund
    • $4.7-billion in financial contributions & $11.2-billion in low interest loans
    • Must be supplemented (cost-shared) by Provinces/Territories
  • $8.6-billion for a new Canada Community Housing Initiative in partnership with provinces and territories, and $500 million through a new Federal Community Housing Initiative
  • $4-billion for a new Canada Housing Benefit:
    • To be launched in 2020
    • Up to $2,500 per family per year
    • Assumes $2-billion Federal funds matched by Provincial and Territorial means matching or co-funding
  • $2.2-billion to reduce homelessness:
    • Appears to be a renewal of the existing Homeless Partnership Strategy (HPS) program that is in the midst of a major review that will launch in 2019
  • $300-million in additional federal funding to address housing needs in Canada’s North
  • $241-million for research, data and demonstrations
  • $200-million in Federal lands transferred to housing providers.
Observations:  Some of these dollars will be used to leverage supplementary investments by provinces/territories; so much will depend on the success of these negotiations.  It is wonderful that the federal government is coming to the table with both land and investment dollars in hand.  Now we will look for productive and fruitful conversations at those tables.       
 

 
To explore the strategy directly, please visit: https://www.placetocallhome.ca/index.cfm

CRIHI thanks staff at the City of Edmonton, Cody Spencer and Daryl Kreuzer for their compiling of numbers and data used in this presentation.

February Action Highlight:


Two campaigns organized by


Compassion Into Action - Welcome Home!
A campaign to recruit fifty or more volunteers to befriend newly housed individuals through the Welcome Home program.  Combat loneliness and isolation with sincere and supportive friendship! 

You Can! - Interfaith Habitat Works!
CRIHI's seventh annual campaign to rally volunteers from faith communities all over Edmonton.  Last year, more than two hundred volunteers from thirty different faith communities came out to work together helping build homes for people.  Kick Off is February 27 and goes through to the end of March. 

For more information, see the following campaign promotions:
Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities
 
Welcome Home
One of the biggest reasons people struggle or fail as they come out of homelessness into housing is loneliness.  Welcome Home assembles and trains a small team of volunteers to walk with someone as a friend.  This is a one-year commitment to go for coffee, go bowling, take long walks, to encourage and pray for a fellow human being on a tough stretch of the road.  ​To find out more information about volunteering contact the Welcome Home Coordinator at 780-378-2544.
https://www.cssalberta.ca/Our-Ministries/Volunteer-Mentoring-Support

Get Firsthand Experience
CRIHI's website has a strong list of opportunities where volunteers can learn by serving.  Here's the link: http://wp.me/P20ewB-5R

Get involved in your Local Community
Visit or Join your Community League - engage in your neighbourhood's efforts to build community, go for coffee with the leadership, and learn about some of the justice issues taking place in your neighbourhood.  http://www.efcl.org

Explore the social dynamics in your neighbourhood
Unsure what the needs are in your community?  MAPS Alberta is a great resource to see how your neighbourhood stacks up on a range of social demographics.  Explore their Social Atlas and numerous other useful resources at: www.mapsab.ca
Connect, Contribute, Inspire!

Join our Learning Community!
The Interfaith Housing Initiative was formed in response to a City of Edmonton and Province of Alberta commitment: the Ten-year-plan to End Homelessness.  Faith leaders from across the city came together to say, “Addressing homelessness is important to our communities too!  How can we help?”

Get Involved! Join the conversation! 
Sign up for our email newsletter and learn with us.  This is a monthly publication where we will be provide good information, generate ideas that work, tell each other’s stories, and share how communities and organizations around Edmonton are responding to the needs of Edmonton’s most vulnerable.

Share your stories with us!
A good story reminds us of what is possible.  The work of providing help, support and home to a neighbor is nothing new, and people of faith tell many stories that inspire.  Stories from today, or stories from a thousand years ago; we want to hear them!  Share the stories of compassion, hospitality that inspire you and your community so that their sharing can inspire others around Edmonton. 

Submit stories and insights to mike@interfaithhousing.ca
 
Contact Us:

Rabbanit Batya Friedman                Pastor Mike Van Boom
Coordinator                                      Housing Ambassador
Batya@interfaithhousing.ca             Mike@interfaithhousing.ca
(780) 938-5558                                (780) 554-2703

 
 
Religious and spiritual communities working to end homelessness in Edmonton
Copyright © 2018 Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative, All rights reserved.



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