Close the Housing Gap enters new phase

YONGESTREET MEDIA         Writer: Katia Snukal

Earlier this summer, Yonge Street wrote on the social housing campaign launched by City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing (TCH): Close the Housing Gap.

Early last week, campaign organizers unveiled the poster that will appear in bus shelters throughout Toronto and Ottawa.

The posters are a key component of the the Close the Housing Gap initiative, a campaign to raise awareness about the precarious social housing situation in Toronto, and to lobby for increased funding from the federal and provincial governments
"Today, we are boldly expanding the visibility and reach of Close the Housing Gap," said campaign co-chair Councilor Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport) at last week's press conference. "This will help drive the message home to Ottawa and Queen's Park that they need to put people first by investing in social housing."
The poster, which features a puzzle of a house with a piece falling away, has a simple message: "Toronto needs sustained federal/provincial funding for social housing."
This simplicity of message, says THC President and CEO Gene Jones, is exactly the point. 
"There is a housing gap that needs to be closed. It's that simple," says Jones. "That's the crux of this campaign: there is a gap and we need people to come to the table and talk to those across the table to try to fix. And we all need to do this together."
Close the Housing Gap is being launched in direct opposition to continued withdrawal of federal funds from social housing across the country. In 2012, the City of Toronto received approximately $161.3 million from the federal government towards social housing, by 2017 that that number is expected to be closer to $128 million (a decline of $33.4 million) and will reach zero by 2031.
But, without additional funding, says Jones, the Toronto Housing Corporation--the City of Toronto's non-profit housing corporation that manages social housing--will not be able to keep up with repairs or acquire much-needed new properties. 
Part of the problem, according the campaign's organizers, is that Toronto residents are often unaware of the consequences of this withdrawal of funding.  
"Residents are maybe not aware or maybe they just turn their heads…" explains Jones. "But we're trying to say that we need to address this problem together, collectively."
"Nobody wants more people on the street because they can't afford where they're living or having to make the choice between feeding their kids or paying rent. That's why it's important for everyone to understand that we need to find affordable housing where our residents can live in great neighbourhoods and great communities." 
In September 2012, a City of Toronto Special Housing Working Group released "Putting People First: Transforming Toronto Community Housing," a report that laid out a five-year capital plan to maintain and expand social housing in the city. The launch of Close the Housing Gap is one of the recommended actions in Putting People First, which was adopted by City Council in November 2012.
In order to draw attention to the need for continued support for social housing, Close the Housing Gap will employ, among other methods, buttons, pamphlets, postcards and public events. The bus shelter ads are just the first step in a much-larger multi-year campaign. 
"We're just not going to give up," says Jones."Every opportunity that we have we're going to talk about closing the housing gap…we just want to make everyone aware. We have a capital backlog and we really need to put people first and fix this problem."

Close the Housing Gap posters will soon appear at 136 bus shelters across Toronto.


Original article available HERE

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@ tweeted this page. 2013-09-13 15:23:15 -0400
This week "we are boldly expanding the visibility and reach of the Close the Housing Gap" campaign. #Closethegap #fb
@ tweeted this page. 2013-09-13 15:22:17 -0400
This week "we are boldly expanding the visibility and reach of Close the Housing Gap" #Closethegap #fb


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