Interfaith group takes on Scarborough homelessness

  • February 8, 2010

{mosimage}TORONTO - A new Scarborough interfaith group says it plans to buy a home to help homeless people off the local streets.

This was just one of several ideas as the Scarborough Interfaith Affordable Housing Association tries to find solutions to homelessness. The group held a Jan. 23 affordable housing forum called “In From the Cold” attended by about 50 faith leaders, community activists and concerned citizens at Knox United Church.

The association plans to buy a house and rent out rooms for up to five homeless individuals, who will receive housing and mentoring support. It will be based upon the model of the non-profit group Sanctuary, which advocates for individuals who need help in upgrading the skills needed to live in residence in a family like environment.

The Scarborough association was incorporated last fall. It will start raising funds for the project once it is granted charitable status, said the association’s Isa James. The individuals to be housed will likely be selected with the help of Out of the Cold and other organizations that work with homeless people, she said.

In the meantime, the group is still looking for property to buy and renovate.

Participants at the forum discussed the need for a federal housing policy, but also acknowledged the constitutional limitations of the federal government in imposing a housing policy and the need for the support of provincial governments.

Michael Shapcott, director of affordable housing and social innovation at the non-profit group the Wellesley Institute , gave the keynote address. Shapcott said Canada has consistently failed to meet its UN obligations to provide affordable housing. Other federal government systems similar to Canada’s had established effective mechanisms for national housing programs, he said.

Several politicians, including local MP Derek Lee and Toronto councillors Joe Mihevc, Raymond Cho, Chin Lee and Ron Moeser, as well as a representative of MP Jim Karygiannis, attended the forum.

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