By Tim Bryant, Edmontonsun, November 24, 2014 Nov. 22 is National Housing Day in Canada.
The day had its genesis about 15 years ago within the big city mayors’ caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and serves as an opportunity to acknowledge various aspects of housing across the country.
“It’s a day of awareness about the importance of affordable housing and the need for housing in our communities,” said Alex Abboud, director of communications and fund development with Homeward Trust Edmonton (HTE).
National Housing Day is always on Nov. 22, but depending on what day of the week the day falls, the various events held to mark the day sometimes take place on other days.
Such was the case this year. With Nov. 22 being Saturday, HTE, along with Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) and various other partners held a luncheon on Nov. 19 to mark the day and the overarching Housing Month that encompasses November.
Susan McGee, CEO with HTE, said her group and its partners put forth an effort every November “to draw attention not only to the need for housing, but some of the successes in the community.”
She added the reason there is an entire month dedicated to housing issues is because there is a lot to talk about.
“It’s a month because there are a lot of different organizations that are active in the sector that have something to share,” McGee said.
HTE encourages organizations that are involved with housing as builders or management to hold open houses and create awareness of the need for housing, and of the good work that is going on.
In the Edmonton area, McGee said a lot of events and initiatives are underway this month.
These include the annual Raise the Roof campaign, which is a national program to raise money for youth homelessness through toque sales; various project openings, such as one by CRHC on Nov. 26, and a showing of the youth homelessness documentary Through my Eyes.
In addition, there was a recent funding announcement to allow the reopening of Carol’s House, a 10-bed interim supportive housing project for immigrant, refugee and human trafficked women and children fleeing violence.
When looking at the different types of need that are out there, McGee said there is a “big gap” when it comes to permanent supporting housing facilities for people who may be suffering from addictions or mental health issues.
As well, she stressed there’s also the issue of general housing affordability for people with limited means.
“We have a lot of people coming to our community looking for opportunities,” McGee said. “Some of them come with very little means and not much support. Just finding an apartment when you don’t have references and you don’t have a work history locally is difficult, and when you’re looking for something, often it’s gone before you get a chance to see it.”
That difficult situation would be greatly lightened if there was more affordable housing in Edmonton and surrounding communities, she said.