Social Justice Drop in Club

The Social Justice Group, known as the Lanark County Community Action Network (LCCAN) seeks to foster the empowerment of people living in poverty and their allies, who wish to have their voices heard, through collective organizing and action. Participants meet to discuss current events & social justice issues and to work together to create positive change within the community. This club is geared to lower income community members, but allies are also welcome.  
 
LCCAN meets at the Table on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday mornings of each month.  Breakfast is from 9:30-10, with the meeting going from 10-11:30.   Meetings at this time have a focus on the issue of housing, a continuation of the Housing Outreach Campaign that LC/CAN has been working on since January 2016. Since location and times may vary due to activities and events the group is participating in, please check the Table calendar of events to find out which weeks the group is meeting at a different time or place..
 

If you are interested in more information about, or in  joining the Lanark County CAN meetings, or need transportation help to attend please contact Beth at 613-267-6428 x4.

The Table CFC - Social Justice

Social Justice Initiatives

In honour of Saturday's Pride Celebration we will be showing a film about the birth of the Pride movement in the USA.



Stonewall Uprising:THE YEAR THAT CHANGED AMERICA

Film Description: When police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City on June 28, 1969, the street erupted into violent protests that lasted for the next six days. The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around the world.

See the trailer here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=135&v=kIGKDuNCn68 

Dinner from 4:30- 6pm and Movie starts at 6:30

We are the Lanark County Community Action Network (LCCAN), a group of low-income community members who gather to discuss issues of importance to, and advocate on behalf of, our peers throughout Lanark County. While we can speak only for ourselves, we believe that we represent many others who are struggling to get by on a daily basis.

 

Having our own experiences dealing with the shortage of affordable and accessible housing in Lanark County it was with great interest that we reviewed the Housing & Homelessness Blueprint. We were, however, disappointed with what we read, and would like to tell you why.

 

While the report claims to offer a “framework” that “takes action now” (p. 7) this promise is not upheld in the pages that follow. To state it directly, we feel that unless specific investments in housing are on the table – which they unfortunately do not appear to be - we must conclude that the report merely provides a perception of action,  and thus serves as an appeasement to the concerned public that keeps people busy in an endless and ultimately fruitless process of surveys and consultation without change.

 

We all know that adequate housing is an issue of grave concern to all people. Not only that, insufficient housing is inexcusable in a country such as Canada. This fact is clearly acknowledged in the report's opening comment by Kurt Greaves: “Canada is one of the richest nations on earth. That we currently have a lack of affordable housing and people who are homeless is a national tragedy. Housing is a basic need for everyone”(p. 1). While, as Mr. Greaves points out, housing is a complex issue that will not be solved overnight, we believe that current urgency demands a far stronger and faster response than is in the report.

 

Inadequate housing causes people to suffer in many ways: 1) We are at risk of becoming homeless; 2) we suffer social isolation; 3) there is a lack of stability for us to build sustainable, satisfying and purposeful lives; and perhaps most importantly 4) we have to deal with all of the physical and mental health repercussions of inadequate housing, including profound stress and depression. (One of our group members described it as living in a state of “perma-panic”). A recent article in the Perth Courier concerning health care usage noted that housing insecurity is among the “major factors contributing to mental health stress” (Devoy, April 9, 2018). The waiting list for subsidized housing in Lanark County is currently over 500 people, and in our experience the actual wait times are well above the quoted average of 5 years. Two of our group members have been waiting longer than 10 years. Clearly, there is not nearly enough housing available for low-income people to afford life’s necessities.

 

We believe the following must be the priorities for moving forward with the goal of ending housing insecurity and homelessness in Lanark County:

 

  • More NEW Rent Geared to Income (RGI) housing (or equivalent subsidy program)
  • Disability/accessible RGI units
  • Supportive housing
  • Shelters and transitional housing for specific groups (e.g. people released from incarceration)
  • Creative housing (e.g. container rent-to-own, tiny houses, vacant properties, co-housing alternatives)

 

We do not need more surveys and consultations. We need more investment available for non-profit and RGI housing. Profit-driven rental housing helps facilitate homelessness, and simply put keeps low-income people “down.” We need to develop trust between the community and the government. For this to happen, the stories of real people in our communities need to be brought to light. The experiences of our own LCCAN members demonstrate that RGI housing can work, and greater investment in this approach is thus warranted. As one member in a market unit stated:

 

“I would love to stay in my place if it were bigger and the rent was lower. We have been in our two bedroom apt for 17 years with two kids who will now be 16 and 13 and now there is just no more room. I would be ever so grateful for a bigger place and lower rent as I can't move anywhere else that is affordable for us. Thanks.”

 

Compare this to the words of another member: “Because of RGI housing I get to live somewhat comfortable! I can pay the rent! Have a roof over my head.” Such basic stories highlight how effective and useful RGI housing is. It could be a solution for many more people, with the necessary political will and government investment.

 

In conclusion, we strongly believe that while the “creativity” suggested by the report (through “service integration and community coordination,” for example) is indeed valuable and necessary, it is simply not a strong or pragmatic enough approach to create the kind of housing we need in adequate numbers to meet immediate demand (p. 13). Speculative engagements with government, “directed lobbying efforts” for increased housing support in the future, and a mere exploration of “innovative sources of funding” are not going to help people sleeping on the street tonight (p. 67, 68). Directed funding and real action are what are needed now.

 

Thank you.

LCCAN members

 

Reference:

 

Devoy, D. (April 9, 2018). “Referring cases outside of Lanark county undermines local health care cases: Schooley.” Retrieved from: https://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/8382920-referring-cases-ou...

After the community meal from 4:30-6 pm, a discussion of the Via Campesina movement for food sovereignty to be followed by the National Farmers Union, Lanark Local 310 Annual General Meeting. 


For more information contact Maureen at 613-259-5757

The following information provides background information to a statement developed for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2017. The statement and this backgrounder were developed by:  North Hastings Community TrustCommunity Development Council of QuinteRural Frontenac Community ServicesThe Table Community Food Centre, and Poverty Round Table Hastings, Prince Edward
 
 
Many poor people in rural communities have lived independent lives and been resilient in many ways. Aging and changes in the labour market—plant and business closings, increased precarity of work—have made them more dependent. People in rural communities are perhaps more reluctant to display their poverty. If the degree of their poverty is made public, they risk losing their housing—as inadequate as it may be. 
 
In an effort to attract new people to their region and boost tourism, rural municipal governments focus on the scenic and attractive aspects of rural reality—rarely do they reveal the hidden poverty that exists. Many rural people who live in poverty
have limited access to the basics of life. Organizations that provide community services in the counties of Prince Edward, Hastings, Frontenac and Lanark report the following:
 
Housing
Housing is a major issue. Rental housing is expensive and becoming scarcer. In Prince Edward County, for example, some long-term rental housing is being converted to Airbnb accommodation for tourists visiting local vineyards. 
 
Many rural people own their homes and land through inheritance or lack of rental options. Some live in cottages or other housing that needs repair; they may have nowhere to go. Some live in housing with dirt floors. The federal loan program to repair and rehabilitate rural housing was recently downloaded to provinces and then to municipalities—who do not have moneyto meet the existing need.
 
In more extreme cases, people live in hunting camps with no heat, plumbing or septic systems. Some do not want service providers to visit them at homes for fear that their property will be condemned. Agency staff working in urban communities
who decide on their eligibility have tight guidelines and little understanding of this reality. For example, Ontario’s homelessness prevention program assists residents to pay for oil, electricity or propane but not necessarily wood as a fuel. Poor people often heat with wood because it is free if they can cut and split it themselves. However, when they become ill or elderly they may need cash to buy wood.
 
Homelessness in rural communities is not as visible as in urban communities. For example, in North Hastings some people reportedly live in their cars and
go to the local library to use the Internet and to wash. Individuals eligible for social housing must wait six to eight years.
 
Utility costs
Utility costs are still high, despite recent reforms and subsidies introduced by the province, and often range from $800 to $1000 a month. Many people struggle
to pay their utility bills—necessary to keep their house. The delivery fee hurts rural residents. Electricity, often used for heating, may also be required to operate water and septic systems. In north, central and south Frontenac, only one town has a municipal water system.
 
North Hastings Community Trust reports that calls for help to get wood for stoves and heating have doubled.
 
 
Food Insecurity
Rent and utility bills must be paid to avoid becoming homeless, so food may become optional in a household budget. Food insecurity rates are high in rural communities. Many people live in “food deserts”—5 km or more from a store thatmay be just a gas station or convenience store. Food is more expensive and of poorer quality when only one store is within a half-hour drive. 
 
Demand at food banks has increased from people with minimum-wage jobs and those relying on social assistance or on a fixed income. Many communities have no local access to food—let alone fruit and vegetables.
 
Many people do hunt, fish and grow their own food. However if they are ill or elderly, they may need cash to buy food.
 
 
Transportation
Getting to a food bank from many rural communities is difficult, as bus transportation is limited or non-existent. So most people need to use cars—and become desperate if their vehicle breaks down and they can’t afford to repair it. Some people hitchhike to get to the food bank or rely on their neighbours.
 
There is no ODSP office in North Hastings, and the Ontario Works office is 2.5 km from Bancroft. ODSP pays for rides only to medical appointments; stops at grocery stores are not allowed. One agency provides a volunteer transportation program that costs the agency 50 cents a kilometre—cheaper than taxis and Uber—but a ride to a doctor can cost the agency $100. The new Ontario Seniors Public Transit Tax credit of up to $3,000 is available only for public transit services operated by the province or a municipality, which is not viable in many rural communities.
 
Seniors
The population of seniors living in poverty in rural communities is increasing. They may have lived there all their lives, downsized or moved from the city to their cottage. An increasing number of widowed seniors now find their single income is not enough to pay for the basics: housing, utilities and food. The increasing stress of this poverty can cause or mask mental health problems, which may go unnoticed by service providers due to the clients’ isolation. When they are noticed, multiple health conditions often require expensive treatment and sometimes hospitalization.
 
Social Assistance Rates
Provincial social assistance rates are inadequate to cover the costs of housing, utilities, food and transportation for rural people. For instance, a single person on Ontario Works in Hastings or Prince Edward County receives $798 a month. But the monthly rent average is $700 month, which leaves $98 for food, transportation and all other costs.”
 
Municipal Services
Municipalities do not have the money to support the services that people with low incomes require, because full-time residents and cottage owners pressure them to keep taxes low. Municipalities use a significant portion of their funding to keep roads safe and bridges repaired. The townships are as “poor” as their residents. Bancroft recently increased its water/sewage rates by 53%.
 
TEACHING CEREMONY AND FEAST REMEMBERING AND HONOURING INDIGENOUS WOMEN
OCTOBER 4th, at 4:00pm
@The Table Community Food Centre
190 Gore St. East. Perth
Featuring Indigenous ceremony followed at 4:30 by a Harvest Feast mixing local traditional ingredients and the seasonal classics turkey and trimmings.
 

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