Safe at Home: Home Unit Takeover Project
This study investigated “Housing Unit Takeovers,” or HUTs: situations in which vulnerable tenants are forced to accommodate unwanted guests in their homes. During HUTs, vulnerable tenants allow people into their homes to fulfill unmet social, economic, and personal needs. Supported by a grant from the City of Toronto, the Dream Team began work on the Safe At Home project in April of 2016 using a community-based participatory research model. Our findings are based on the results of 56 resident surveys, 24 resident interviews, 146 non-resident surveys, 2 staff interviews, and focus group discussions. We also conducted two roundtable discussions and an open dialogue through the City of Toronto’s Specialized Interdivisional Enhanced Response (SPIDER) program. To learn more about this study, please download our Executive Summary.
Bill of Rights: Voice of Tenants in Supportive Housing
Members of the Dream Team frequently discuss the transformational possibilities of permanent supportive housing, as many of our members have experienced homelessness, or housing instability, at some point in their lives. The majority credit their ability to stay housed to the support they received from staff and other tenants in permanent supportive housing units. There is an ongoing need to address current living conditions for tenants in permanent supportive housing. Over the course of a year, our Research Committee interviewed 46 people individually, 8 service providers, and another 36 people participated in focus groups. Our findings were compiled to create A New Bill of Rights for Tenants in Supportive Housing.Download
Human Rights Case: Changing Discriminatory Bylaws
The Dream Team believes that housing is a human right and that preventing a person with mental health issues from having housing is a violation of human rights. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) provided us with some legal assistance and we hired a planner to look at which municipalities around Ontario had zoning bylaws that were discriminating against people with mental health issues. After concluding our research, we filed applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) against Sarnia, Kitchener, Smiths Falls and Toronto for creating bylaws that discriminated against people with physical and mental health issues who live in group homes. As a result, all four municipalities amended their bylaws.
Report: We Are Neighbours
The Dream Team set out to test the value of supportive housing through a community-based research process that brought together supportive housing residents, housing providers and their neighbours. They used public data to show that supportive housing does not hurt property values or increase crime. In fact, supportive housing tenants make important contributions to the strength of their neighbourhoods, by spending at local businesses, adding to the vibrancy of an area through their street presence, increasing friendliness among neighbours, and participating in neighbourhood actions around noise and speed, tidiness and crime. In short, supportive housing residents are just the kind of great neighbours that every community needs.Download
Awareness Campaign: Stitching the Safety Net
Psychiatric system consumer/survivors and others who live in poverty, along with those who stand in solidarity with us, are taking action to create a vision for a stronger social safety net. The current one is unraveling before our eyes—with massive cuts to health, social services, housing, education, daycare, etc. Together, we are stitching our own social safety net, to show the Ontario Government how it should be repaired. We have held workshops across the province, where participants share their experiences with the safety net, learn about cuts to social programs, and make their own squares of the safety net. We stitched over 600 squares together into a collaborative art piece: a 200-foot physical representation of what a strong social safety net looks like. Get in touch for us to bring it to your group/organization.
Report: What Stops Us From Working?
As a society, we would all benefit from the increased employment of Ontario Disability Service Program recipients. It would boost consumer spending and taxes paid, and decrease pressure on the health and social assistance systems. This report describes how ODSP currently treats outside income, then uses the real life stories of ODSP recipients to illustrate the problems caused by current policy. We analyze these problems and detail our proposed reforms to help “make work pay.”Download
Postcard Campaign: More Affordable Housing
The Dream Team organized and promoted two postcard campaigns to “increase the supply of affordable and supportive housing across Ontario so that people facing mental illness can rebuild their lives and contribute to society.” We collected 2000 signatures in the first campaign and 4,000 in the second campaign, presented to the Liberal and the NDP caucuses, and were emphatically supported by George Smitherman and Marilyn Churley. This inspired David Miller to declare February 27 “Supporting Housing Day.” Nine days after our second press conference at Queen’s Park, the three levels of government announced the Affordable Housing Agreement, which identified supportive housing as one of the two specific target groups to receive more funding.
Constitutional Challenge: Right to Housing
We are currently battling federal and provincial governments in a Constitutional Charter challenge as part of a cross-Canada group called “The Rights to Housing Coalition.” Over the past 20 years, there have been many funding cuts that have had a negative impact on people who rely on supportive housing services and programs. Some of the people affected the most are the homeless who live on Toronto streets and people on O.D.S.P. Many people can no longer pay their rents. The result is that “security of the person” is compromised. Under section 7 of the Charter, we are all entitled to “life, liberty and security of person,” and section 15 guarantees the equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination. These policies have unfairly discriminated against people with low incomes and mental disabilities. We are asking the courts to take action to create a “right to housing” policy across Canada.
Task Force: Inclusive Employment Project
Thanks to funding from the Metcalf Foundation, members of the Dream Team have created a Task Force focused on the benefits of inclusive employment for psychiatric consumer-survivors. We will meet regularly for a year, conduct research, share experiences, and connect with organizations that focus on inclusive employment. The end goal is to create a presentation for companies in the private sector that highlights the benefits of hiring consumer-survivors. These benefits include reduced costs related to absenteeism and turnover, hiring productive and motivated workers with unique skills. Benefits to consumer-survivors include sharing skills and talents, financial gains and feeling purposeful and productive. for providing funding to run this Taskforce, allowing us to focus on this important topic.