Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Housing Consult - July 27, 2009 and Misc. Notes

Monday evening, two of us from 2100 Russell Road, myself and Sheila, attended the Housing Consult with the Minister of Housing, The Honourable Jim Watson. We were there with other members of ACORN. More people showed up than the Minister anticipated I think - they ended up putting a tent up in the parking lot to accommodate the overflow. We each sat at a different table of 8 people - this gave us an opportunity to meet other people and hear their thoughts and discuss those thoughts more thoroughly. It also exposed us to other Housing types and problems - a bit of a surprise though it shouldn't be, but we do tend to get involved with our own problems and forget that there are others with their own problems.

Ottawa Housing's Jo-Anne Poirier introduced the Minister after which she and her right hand gal, Laurene Wagner, moved around the room meeting the participants and getting a feel for the various concerns.

There were 5 questions and each table was given a question to discuss. After the discussion, a person we chose as spokesperson, passed our concerns on to the Minister and the rest of the room. Not surprisingly, our concerns here at 2100 came up to one degree or another at each table. So The Minister knows. Now let's see what he will do.

'Screening' was pretty well shot down as being too much of a hot political potato - well that's my take on it anyway. The good news is that there were suggestions made that were a tad different but would have the same outcome - less problems, more security.

Active drug addicts, vandalism, people with mental problems but no in-house supervision or support were among the problems that were discussed. A better way of addressing those problems along with some suggestions as well as more or better security were high on the list of things put to the Minister to do something about. Also discussed were ways for people to move up and out and into a more personal type of housing situation whenever it was possible and appropriate for them.

An item that came up that I know will be of interest to some tenants here is habit of government agencies of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. It was pointed out to the Minister that it is counter productive and discourages people who really want to move upwards. We do sincerely hope he noted that and will do something constructive about it.

Jenn from Ottawa Child/Youth Housing Advocacy Initiative (OCHAI) was at my table. She is putting together a summary and will send it to me. I will pass the high points along to you.

I have invited the Minister here for tea and a tour. When I wrote the Federal Minister a while back, it took him a year to respond. I guess I should be grateful that he answered at all. However this is a different level of government and a different person so, while I would not advise you to hold your breath, I would not, at this point in time, say he will ignore us either. Stay tuned.

Miscellaneous Notes

1. Last night I noticed that the Door #4 parking lot was well lit up. I'm not sure if they just changed the light bulbs or if they redirected the lights or what. But it should discourage some of those little vandals that have been tormenting us here. Thanks OHC for doing that!

2. For those of you who put your names down as volunteers, there will be another get together with Housing on August 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Try to keep in mind that these meetings are intended to solve communal problems, not individual ones. Let's keep it a discussion and not a monologue. Also, it is very difficult to both hear and think if there are little children running around. Please find someone to look after the little ones and leave them at home. Meetings with Housing are not an appropriate place to drag little children.

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