Claiming the Right to Housing in the GTA
A five-part workshop series | Spring / Summer / Fall 2021
Communities across Toronto have faced a housing affordability crisis for years, and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated this situation significantly. Human rights-based approaches are critical in addressing systemic housing issues that affect tenants – and in particular women, Black, Indigenous, and other persons of colour, persons with disabilities, social assistance recipients and others who face systemic discrimination.
Throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2021, the Right to Housing Toronto (R2HTO) and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) are running a virtual workshop series across Toronto and the GTA to address critical challenges in advancing the right to housing and build awareness of how to claim the right to housing under the National Housing Strategy Act and HousingTO 2020-30 Action Plan.
The workshops will bring together community leaders, service providers, tenants, people with lived experience of housing insecurity, policy professionals and others for solutions-focused conversations about the systemic housing barriers that communities are facing in the GTA, and how tenants can claim their right to housing. The workshops will educate attendees about right to housing legislation in Canada and Toronto, spark group conversations about systemic barriers to the right to housing, and produce submissions to the Federal Housing Advocate and Toronto Housing Commissioner.
Workshop #1 took place on May 5, and Workshop #2 is taking place on July 6. The dates of the remaining workshops in this series will be announced at a later time – stay tuned!
Using the National Housing Strategy Act and HousingTO Plan to claim the right to housing
Wednesday, May 5 | 5 – 7 pm
The first workshop provided an overview of the National Housing Strategy Act, and the City of Toronto’s commitments under Toronto’s HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. Through interactive breakout rooms, participants discussed the systemic housing barriers faced by marginalized communities in the GTA, and how people can claim their right to housing under the new legislation through collective submissions to the Federal Housing Advocate and Toronto Housing Commissioner.
Addressing Systemic Discrimination in Housing
Tuesday July 6 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm
The second workshop will address the systemic discrimination that communities in the GTA face in their housing. This workshop will provide an overview of systemic discrimination in housing and the legal frameworks that protect people from discrimination. Participants will hear first-hand accounts from lived experts who have experienced discrimination in housing. In small groups, participants will:
- identify the types of systemic discrimination that communities face in their housing
- identify the groups who are impacted
- propose solutions to address these issues, including using the National Housing Strategy Act and the City of Toronto’s HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan
About future workshops
Subsequent workshops in this series will take place across the summer and fall of 2021 on dates to be determined. These workshops will address discrimination faced by housing seekers, eviction prevention, and inadequate services and maintenance issues faced by low income tenants in Toronto. The topic of the final workshop will be chosen by attendees of the previous workshops.
About the National Housing Strategy Act and the HousingTO Plan:
The National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) is Canada’s first ever legislative commitment to the right to housing and provides a framework to address existing and emerging systemic housing issues and advocate for solutions. It relies on affected groups to protect their right to housing by bringing their circumstances to light, identifying critical systemic issues, making submissions to have those issues addressed by the government, and developing strategies to preserve and secure affordable housing.
Similarly, the HousingTO 2020-30 Action Plan has committed to advancing the right to housing in Toronto, and to establishing a Toronto Housing Commissioner that would receive submissions from the public regarding systemic housing rights violations.
When many people are facing similar problems – for example unaffordable rents, units in disrepair, or overcrowded housing – these are “systemic” issues that governments are responsible to address. Both the NHSA and the HousingTO Plan require that members of affected communities themselves must be engaged in the development of strategies to preserve and secure affordable housing and protect the right to housing.
Since the fall of 2020, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and the National Right to Housing Network (NRHN) have worked with communities across Canada to identify systemic violations of the right to housing, propose solutions, and claim the right to housing as recognized under the NHSA to secure systemic change.
About the organizers:
Right to Housing Toronto is a network of individuals and organizational supporters that are working to ensure that the City of Toronto takes a rights-based approach to its housing planning and policy.
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) has worked to advance the right to housing for over 30 years through policy and legal advocacy, community education programs, legal initiatives, and direct human rights-based supports for marginalized tenants.