Freiheit: Ending chronic homelessness Starts With Home
Published by the Lowertown Echo in September, 2022
Elections have been top of mind during the past year. We’ve had federal and provincial elections and our municipal election takes place on October 24. Some of us may take the right to vote as a given, and it should be. At Shepherds of Good Hope, we do our best to ensure our service users and supportive housing residents across Ottawa have the supports they need to exercise their civic rights.
For the municipal election, Shepherds of Good Hope is a key partner in the Starts With Home campaign, an Ottawa-based non-partisan coalition of local people, organizations, businesses and community groups advocating for affordable housing as a key priority in the upcoming election. The coalition is calling on candidates, as well as individuals and organizations, to endorse the Starts With Home platform, which includes 3 key messages and 6 clear actions for the next City Council to undertake as they address the housing affordability crisis.
Shepherds of Good Hope and the Lowertown Community Association are just two of more than one hundred organizations across the city that have endorsed Starts With Home.
The first pillar of Starts with Home is to stop the loss of affordable housing. It focuses on creating municipal policies that strengthen tenant protections against renovictions and demovictions and creating a non-profit housing acquisition strategy supported by City purchases of private market residential properties for the purpose of turning them over to non-profit housing providers.
The second pillar is to create more affordable housing, including the development of a strong Inclusionary Zoning policy to ensure new builds have permanent affordable units based on a household’s income. We also want an increase to the municipal budget to house 1,000 households each year, committing 30% as part of a for Indigenous, by Indigenous housing strategy.
The third pillar is to preserve the quality of existing affordable housing. It’s important that landlords in Ottawa to be licensed for more effective oversight of property maintenance and that funding be provided, where needed, for small landlords to do maintenance repairs rather than sell their rental units. An independent Housing Ombudsperson is needed to implement the right to housing in line with the federal commitment to housing as a human right.
Safe, affordable housing is the solution to ending chronic homelessness and housing needs. Shepherds of Good Hope supports the Starts With Home campaign because it offers concrete solutions, but it will take all of us together, pushing for a city where everyone has a home. The ultimate goal is to ensure that Ottawa remains a safe and affordable place for everyone. We urge you to join the movement by endorsing the platform. Please call your candidates and ask if they support the Starts with Home pillars and ask your families, friends and neighbours to do the same!
Visit https://www.startswithhome.ca/ to learn more, to endorse the campaign, and to see which municipal candidates have endorsed the Starts With Home platform.
Deirdre Freiheit is President & CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope and Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation and Chair of the Alliance to End Homelessness. Deirdre has been a leader in the not-for-profit sector for almost 30 years.