Statement in Recognition of National Housing Day
November 22, 2022 – National Housing Day is held annually on November 22 to recognize the important work done by partners across Canada to improve access to housing. In recognition of National Housing Day 2022, The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board would like to emphasize the importance of getting people housed appropriately with the supports they need.
Being housed appropriately is just as important as being housed at all. When a person is housed appropriately, it means they have the supports they need to stay housed. It means they have the resources available to them to become self sufficient. When someone isn’t appropriately housed, it means they are living independently before they’re ready. And when vulnerable people are expected to live without supports, they may end up being victimized or even evicted. The impact is often equally as burdensome for other tenants, neighbours, and staff.
There is a well researched correlation between poverty and prevalence of mental illness and addictions. What this means for TBDSSAB is that we’re likely to see people on our housing waitlist who need supportive or transitional housing, but who are placed in community housing instead.
Things will not improve without significant investment into appropriate housing options, including supportive and transitional housing.
Community housing is not supportive housing. Community housing falls under the Residential Tenancies Act, which assumes tenants are capable of living independently. Supportive housing is managed by multiple sectors and does not fall under the RTA. With 2,494 direct owned properties and over 4000 tenants, the majority of tenants living in our community housing units are well prepared to live independently. However, TBDSSAB continues to do as much as possible to ensure that the tenants who need more support are set up for success. But we cannot do this alone.
Through the Social Services Relief Fund and the new Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) funding model, TBDSSAB has been able to fund supportive programs through agreements with third party health organizations. In the last few years, we’ve announced partnerships with organizations such as Matawa and Dilico to ensure more supportive housing is available in our communities. We have also established service agreements with community outreach organizations to connect with those who are homeless, street engaged or unsuitably housed, to offer support and connections to housing. As a community housing provider and landlord, TBDSSAB cannot offer the supports our tenants need without the help of community partners in other sectors. We are so grateful to the community partners who see this need and step up to address it, but it can’t stop here.
This National Housing Day, we appeal to our community partners and government representatives to make supportive housing a more prevalent reality. Long term, we need an expanded centralized housing waitlist that includes both community housing and supportive housing , to get people housed appropriately. In the meantime, we need more community partners to step forward and work with us to meet tenants where they’re at with the supports they need.
TBDSSAB will continue to advocate for long-term solutions and quality of life for the people in our District. We hope others will join us.
Lucy Kloosterhuis, Chair, TBDSSAB
William (Bill) Bradica, CAO, TBDSSAB