Housing

Lessons for housing providers from the 2017 National Conference on LGBTTQIA2S Lives

October 3rd, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

Montréal Pride (Fierté Montréal) hosted the 2017 National Conference on LGBTTQIA2S Lives in August. I had the privilege of attending as a student bursary recipient. The acronym, “LGBTTQIA2S” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirited – in this blog I also use the term “sexual and gender minorities” to refer to members of this community.

The conference brought together community and cultural partners, university researchers, and government representatives for a discussion of the important issues facing sexual and gender minorities across Canada today.  The workshops highlighted how different civil society groups, academics, businesses, and governments have approached civil and human rights, health and family rights, social and cultural issues, employment and workplace inclusion, migrant and refugee issues, and international issues and movements.  The topics focused on different realities and identities within the LGBTTQIA2S umbrella, raising a broad range of issues affecting different people in the community.  The overall theme that emerged from discussions was that although there have been many recent gains with respect to legal recognition and formal protections of sexual and gender minorities in Canada, many members of the LGBTTQIA2S communities continue to experience high levels of insecurity and marginalization and remain vulnerable in every sector of life.

One community in particular should be of interest to our clients who house and employ individuals from the LGBTTQIA2S communities: migrants and asylum seekers who are sexual and gender minorities.  One panel featured settlement workers who work exclusively with sexual and gender minorities in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, spoke of the difficulty that many of these individuals, particularly transgender migrants, experience in finding housing.  These individuals are at risk of encountering multiple kinds of discrimination due to the intersection of their status as migrants and sexual or gender minorities, and often race or ethnicity.  Many sexual and gender minorities who are not migrants and live in social housing communities also report feeling unwelcome and unsafe due to their sexual orientation or gender as well as other intersecting identities.

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Protecting housing and human rights without limiting options

September 28th, 2017 by Michael Hackl

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Canada has been facing a housing crisis for a number of years now, with rising costs affecting both homeowners and tenants. According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, renters in Canada are spending an average of 22 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities. Further, this index reported that 40 per cent of renter households were spending more than 30 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities, and a staggering 19 per cent were spending over 50 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities. Keep in mind that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines affordable housing as housing that costs less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income. This means that almost half of renter households in Canada are not in affordable housing, and one in five homes are spending over half of their before-tax income just to have a roof over their heads.

Imagine then, the relief that a family in Vancouver must have felt on being told that they had reached the top of a waiting list for a two-bedroom apartment that would have resulted in a significant reduction in their housing costs if they had been offered the unit. Unfortunately for them, the housing provider did not offer them the unit. At the time that the family was told that they were first on the waiting list, the family consisted of two parents and a two-year-old son, but the mother was seven months pregnant (and has since given birth to a baby girl). According to a voicemail left by a representative of the housing provider, they could not offer the family the unit because they did not know the sex of their then unborn child. For its part, the housing provider has said that the family was not being considered for the unit in any event, but the family feels they were passed over for this apartment because they have two young children of different sexes and the housing provider was unwilling to offer them a unit where those two children would share a bedroom.

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We’re on the road – again! Co-op managers: join us for a human rights workshop

September 12th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

On Friday, October 13, 2017, we will host our first IC Education event in Peel Region.  This event for co‑op managers is co‑sponsored by our friends at Peel‑Halton Co‑operative Housing Federation.

If you are grappling with human rights issues at the co‑op you manage, this may be the event for you. We’re going to talk about  how to distinguish a human right from a personal preference and how far the housing provider’s duty to accommodate extends and what the Rouge Valley decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario means for co‑ops.

And we’d love to see you there!  We have a few spaces left. To register, click here. 

Update on CMHC’s reno/retro program

September 6th, 2017 by Celia Chandler

In its 2016 budget, the federal government announced a renovate and retrofit (reno/retro) program of forgivable loans administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).  CMHC issued a one‑time call for applications in June 2016 and made its final decisions on applications in June 2017.   Not surprisingly, the demand for funding greatly outstripped the available funds; we’re told that highest priority was given to projects in greatest financial need for work that addresses the risk of losing units (due to health and safety issues, regulatory or legislated requirements). By now, those who were lucky enough to be given the nod are busy working towards starting their projects quickly – all funds are to be spent by Nov 30, 2017.

We’re busy helping many with the paperwork to register these forgivable loans as mortgages on the title to their property.  If you’re a housing provider looking for legal support on these, please give us a call.

Applications now open for Toronto’s first new housing co-op in 7 years

August 24th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

Naismith Co‑op, Toronto’s first new housing co-op in seven years, is now accepting membership applications.  Located at 10 York Street in downtown Toronto, the new co‑op is comprised of 7 two bedroom units in a 65‑storey condominium.

Naismith came about thanks to a deal negotiated by former city councillor Adam Vaughan with the condo’s developer, Tridel, under section 37 of the provincial Planning Act. Section 37 allows for a community benefits agreement to be negotiated in exchange for the approval of a development that does not meet regular zoning regulations.

Naismith joins over 165 co‑ops in the Greater Toronto Area that are part of the Co‑operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT).

Tom Clement, Executive Director of CHFT, says that since the co‑op will be choosing applicants by lottery, this is a great opportunity for interested and qualifying applicants to have an equal chance of being selected.  In the past, co‑ops have selected applicants on a first‑come first‑serve basis.

All qualifying applicants who submit an application form by midnight on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 will be included in the draw.  The co‑op will fill seven two‑bedroom affordable units with a monthly housing charge of $1,075.00 plus utilities.

To qualify for a two‑bedroom unit at this rate, the applicant’s annual household income must be below $51,500 (before taxes) when they sign the housing agreement. No additional rent subsidies are available.

New affordable housing stock is wonderful news. We believe in the potential of co‑ops as much as we ever have – and we hope to see many more in the future!

You can learn more about Naismith Co‑op and apply to be a member here.

Property Managers: How will changes to the Condominium Act affect you? Sign up for a free legal workshop

July 10th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

Do you have unanswered questions about Bill 106, Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015?

As you are no doubt aware, the Bill is expected to come into force in the fall of 2018. It will introduce a number of changes to the Condominium Act 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 19.

The Bill will create a Condominium Authority Tribunal to hear disputes between condominium owners and Boards. Parties will no longer need to go to court to litigate disputes with unit owners and/or the Board of Directors, unless they wish to appeal a decision of the Tribunal.

The Bill will also introduce the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015 (the CMSA), which creates a separate administrative body to oversee the licensing of property managers working in condominiums throughout Ontario. Under the CMSA:

  • All property managers (both individual managers and property management companies) will need to be licensed as condominium management providers in order to supply services to condominiums;
  • Condominium managers, as part of the licensing process, will be required to take specific courses and exams administered by the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO); and
  • There will be two categories of condominium management licenses: general licenses, which allow for management of all aspects of a condominium; and limited licenses, which impose certain restrictions with respect to entering into contracts and managing funds on behalf of the condominium corporation.

Individual and property management companies will have 150 days from the date on which the Bill is proclaimed to apply for the license.

If you’d like to know more about the changes to condo law, join us for a free breakfast workshop on Friday September 15th.  Sign up at condo-act.eventbrite.com and be sure you are subscribed to our blog for further updates.  We welcome your input on questions you’d like to see addressed.