Community Advocacy Office

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COVID19 Update:

Please note that currently the Community Advocacy Office is operating remotely. Please call (613-267-6428 ext 29) or email (advocacy@thetablecfc.org) and a Community Navigator will return your call during our regular office hours.

 

The Community Advocacy Office is located downstairs at The Table on the same floor as the Good Food Bank. The office is run by community members with lived experience of living on low-incomes and navigating government programs and other resources in our local area.

Community Navigators are available to offer resources, referrals, and support on a wide array of issues from applying for help with utility bills, to replacing lost identification, to helping fill out paperwork, to conducting a housing search, to discussing your options in a difficult situation. The office is open to all community members and no appointment is needed.

In some cases, your interaction with us may be like asking for directions, and just need to be pointed in the right direction. In other cases, it may be more like visiting an information centre when arriving at a new place, where you have some understanding of what your needs are, but may need some more detailed conversations and perhaps a map or two to figure out where you need to go. 

In other cases, you may be dealing with a more complex situation, or be stuck waiting for the help you need from more formal organizations, and you may find us helpful as companions on your journey to help read the map, check in regularly, and maybe make some calls on your behalf while you focus on the road ahead. 

No matter what, you are the one in the “driver’s seat”. We are here to help you get where you’re going.

Monday, 2 - 5pm; Tuesday, 12 - 3:30pm; Wednesday, 3:30 - 6pm; Friday, 2 - 5pm

613-267-6428 x29, advocacy@thetablecfc.org 

Advocacy Initiatives

In consultation with Victims Services, the Community Advocacy Office has put together the following resource on rental fraud. In this document, you will learn about some common types of rental fraud and information about who to call if you believe you are a victim of rental fraud. If you have more questions or would like to connect with a Community Advocate, please contact us at 613-267-6428 x29 or advocacy@thetablecfc.org

 

Rental Fraud & How to Avoid It

Rental fraud is more common than you might think. Financial fraud can exact a heavy emotional toll on its victims; common feelings include anger, regret, embarrassment, sadness, shame, guilt, confusion, depression, and stress. It is important to realize that the blame belongs to the perpetrator, not the victim. Here are some common scams, warning signs, and tips on how to avoid and deal with fraud.

7 Top Rental Housing Scams

#1 Phantom Rentals: An ad for a place that does not exist or is not for rent. Their goal is to get your money before you find out.

#2 Hijacked Ads: A fake landlord posts an ad for a real place, with altered contact information.

#3 Already Rented: A landlord uses an ad to collect deposits or application fees for a place already rented.

#4 Missing Amenities: An ad for a real place that lists amenities it does not have (to get a higher rent).

#5 Bait-and-Switch: The landlord tries to get you to sign a lease or collect a deposit for a different property than the one advertised.

#6 Suspicious Money Requests: You are asked to send money when you haven’t seen the apartment or met anyone, to pay an illegal security or holding deposit, a full year’s worth of rent, or other upfront fees.

#7 Identity Theft: An ad that is really a trick to get you to hand over confidential info such as a Social Insurance Number (SIN) or banking information.

Warning Signs

  • Ads that are “too good to be true,” for example: very low rent, great amenities, and sought after neighbourhoods. Check other listings in the general area to get an idea of of the current market rates for comparison.
  • You're asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place. Always request a lease or contract and review it thoroughly.
  • When you ask about the apartment, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information.
  • You’re asked for money right away (security deposit, first month’s rent etc.), and the landlord tries to rush you by claiming other people are interested.
  • You're asked to send a security deposit or personal information to a landlord outside the country; never do business with an overseas landlord unless you have personally verified their identity and ensured that they own the apartment advertised.
  • You're offered a unit but no one does a background check on you.
  • Ads that show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that don't match the address of the actual property. Make sure to see the apartment in person, or use the internet to find photos and research the address. If it is a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
  • The landlord only wants to communicate via e-mail. Dealing locally is best and it is safest to meet in person and face to face. Schedule a viewing when the landlord will be present.
  • The landlord wants a deposit or rent payments sent using Western Union or MoneyGram, which are popular for scams because they are instant, untraceable, and global. Requests to wire money are sure signs of scams, and sending money in any form overseas will likely result in losing all of it.
  • Be sure to know your rights as a tenant. Consult your provincial or territorial department or ministry of housing.

Who to Contact if you have been Victimized

  • Local Police: The police will make a report, provide helpful referrals, and warn the public. Smiths Falls Police Service: 613-283-0357. Ontario Provincial Police 1-888-310-1122.
  • The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC):  1-888-495-8501 or through CAFC’s Fraud Reporting System.
  • Your Bank or Financial Institution: If you suspect that someone has gained access to your bank accounts or credit cards, contact your bank immediately and freeze the accounts.
  • Equifax or TransUnion: They can monitor your credit file and put a “fraud alert” on your file.
  • The Competition Bureau’s Information Centre: For helpful resources for avoiding scams; 1-800-348-5358.
  • Consumer Protection Ontario: An awareness program from Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

 

Sources: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (Canada.ca); Rentboard.ca; Government of Canada, Competition Bureau Canada (Canada.ca); Student Life, University of Toronto (https://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/hs/housing-scams); Victims Services Ontario.

 

On Thursday, February 20th, The Table Community Food Centre hosted a housing forum in response to the current housing crisis with the aim to create housing solutions in Lanark County.

As a part of the next steps to addressing housing insecurity in Lanark County, the following report provides a summary of the forum as well as the committments made by participants to work together to overcome housing insecurity.

 

**Report is now available here: http://thetablecfc.org/article/creating-housing-solutions-report

 

 

Join us for an afternoon of workshops and discussions to create an actionable plan to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to call home.Meet with representation from municipalities in Lanark County, community groups, youth organizations, women’s groups, housing providers, seniors, legal clinic, funding agencies and more.

1 - 5pm - workshops on tenant rights, alternative funding options, local housing initiatives and community advocacy.
5:30pm - 8pm - dinner, lessons learned, discussions & next steps

This forum is made possible with the funding support of the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) 2019 grant from Lanark County.

Workshops

1:00 – 1:45 pm        Housing Issues and Options – An Evidence-Based Approach

Nelson Rogers, MSW, Ed.D. Robert Leitch, BLSc, M.Ed.

1:45 – 2:00 pm        Community Bonds-What are they and how do they work?

Fraser Scantlebury, Regional Director, United Way East Ontario

2:00 – 2:15 pm        How the Perth and District Community Foundation works to create funding for initiatives in our community.

Lynn McIntyre, Executive Director, Perth and District Community Foundation

2:15 – 3:00 pm        Housing First:  An initiative to address homelessness

Stephanie Manoni-Millar, University of Ottawa

3:00 – 4:00 pm        Tenant’s Rights in Ontario

Linda Tranter, Staff Lawyer at the Legal Clinic in Perth

4:00 – 5:00 pm        Affordable Housing Development 101

Graeme Hussey, President of Cahdco

 

*Please see below for more information about the workshops, presenters and participants.

Bios & Workshop Descriptions

Linda Tranter is the Staff Lawyer practicing anti-poverty law at the Legal Clinic since 2000.  Previously Linda has worked as a lawyer at Keewaytinok Native Legal Services in Moosonee 1997 to 2000, a Refugee Lawyer in Toronto, a Refugee Support Worker and  Advocate for Sojourn House, and a Developmental Services Worker.

Linda’s current position is at the legal clinic (which is distinct from legal aid) and provides free non-profit legal service for low income people in Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Counties.

As the staff lawyer her role is to advise and represent clients at the Landlord and Tenant Board, Social Benefits Tribunal, Social Security Tribunal of Canada, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Today’s Workshop focuses on Tenant’s Rights in Ontario covering such topics as the duties of landlords and tenants, evictions, maintenance/repair issues, harassment and discrimination, rent-geared-to-income rules and homelessness prevention strategies. Know your rights and how to stay safe in your housing!

 

Graeme Hussey is the President of Cahdco, a non-profit real estate development corporation and sister to Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC). Cahdco develops affordable housing and social purpose real estate and provides consulting in the Ottawa area. Cahdco combines the experience and resources of CCOC with a team of development, construction, and project management experts.

His topic will be “Affordable Housing Development 101”, or how to create and finance affordable rental housing.  The presentation will include recent examples of projects Cahdco has completed.

 

Stephanie Manoni-Millar is a graduate student at the University of Ottawa working with Tim Aubrey (co-chair Housing First ON)

Housing First involves moving people experiencing homelessness —particularly people experiencing chronic homelessness—rapidly from the street or emergency shelters into stable and long-term housing, with supports.  It is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness.

 

Robert Leitch and Nelson Rogers, Community Transformation Associates, Inc.

Nelson Rogers is a researcher, consultant, and conference speaker in areas related to program review and strategic planning, community development, postsecondary education, and applied research and innovation, with particular expertise in rural contexts. Nelson previously worked at Algonquin College as a professor, research manager, director and dean.

Robert Leitch is an educator, business analyst, information scientist and foresight strategist with graduate degrees in Educational Technology, and Library and Information Science. Robert has demonstrated leadership in program and project innovation, including with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Financial Literacy program and the Lanark Communications Network - Canada’s first community-based rural broadband network.

Housing Issues and Options – An Evidence-Based Approach

Suitable housing must be: Appropriate, Accessible, Affordable, and Available.  However, the “housing needs continuum” is complex – including homelessness, formal and informal temporary housing, supportive housing, market and social rental housing, various forms of home ownership and innovations in housing. Current demographic and economic trends in rural Eastern Ontario reveal that housing challenges will become more serious in the decade of the 2020s.  Considering the complexity of issues related to housing, and the urgency of effective action on many fronts, data access and analysis to support evidence-based decision-making is extremely important. 

The Big Data for Small Places (BD4SP) program is a data literacy and data utilization capacity-building process relevant to a variety of topics. It was designed to allow working groups to focus on a current issue and access a wide range of data-related resources to address a specific challenge. The program includes topics such as:

  • understanding the real needs of the community 
  • tips for reviewing community profile data to quickly identify areas of concern
  • how to tap into local and national networks to enhance community data utilization
  • how to balance hard data with local knowledge
  • tips for communicating data-related insights to various audiences

This workshop will discuss how the Big Data for Small Places approach could address the key issues and options relevant to housing in Lanark County and area.

Community Transformation Associates, Inc. (CTA-Inc) helps rural and small-town communities thrive and prosper through effective use of data, research, and knowledge mobilization.

 

Participating Organizations, Agencies & Community Partners

 

Please be sure to stop and speak with everyone who has come to make this dialogue possible.  They are here to share their insights and to gather yours as well.

 

Community Representation

  • David Kroetsch:  A part of the Safe and Secure housing initiative with the Outreach Committee of St. James Anglican Church in Perth
  • Plan B:  A Lanark Highlands-based volunteer group advocating for health equity through strong community ties.  Their mission reads “Towards an even more supportive and inclusive community.
     
  • Susan Berlin: Politically active Lanark Highlands community member advocating for changes to municipal policies and by-laws to permit alternative housing types like tiny houses, co-housing and secondary suites. Such changes have been recommended by Federal, Provincial and County governments, but have not been implemented where it counts -- at the local municipal level!
     
  • Queer Connection Lanark (QCL): A group by and for the LGBTQ2S+ community; we exist to connect our community members to events, each other and information they need in Lanark County.  Housing issues and discrimination are big issues for our community but have additional complications. Everyone is welcome to come and talk to us about it.

 

Agency Representation

  • Abbeyfield Canada: The Abbeyfield concept is as simple as it is unique: create a warm, family-style, volunteer-run and community-based house that offers seniors an easy-going balance between privacy and companionship, security and independence. Abbeyfield is a proven success, a community-based housing alternative that enables healthy seniors to live independently and in place in a non-institutional setting — happily and safely.
     
  • Cornerstone Landing: Cornerstone Landing is a community-based, non-profit charitable organization providing assistance to youth age 16-24 who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness in Lanark County.  Cornerstone Landing provides a continuum of care that includes prevention based, long term and evidenced based supports related to housing and homelessness. We are the only Housing First program in the County, specifically designed to work with young people. We also provide clients with information and referrals to other community resources such as food banks or mental health services. Our goal is to help youth maintain their housing so that they can focus on school and employment. Each year Cornerstone Landing supports between 75-85 youth.
     
  • Lanark County Interval House: Since 1979, Lanark County Interval House and Community Support has been providing safe, emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Over the years, our services have grown to include extensive community support programs including individual and group counselling, second stage housing, family court support, LCIHCS Victim Advocate and programs specific to children and youth.   As we honour our 40th year of service, we celebrate the leadership of strong feminist advocates, the outstanding support of community and the amazing demonstration of courage by women and children of Lanark County. We continue to do the work with gratitude, and our evolution remains rooted in the lived experience and the strong voices of women.
     
  • Lanark County Mental Health: Lanark County Mental Health is committed to enhancing the wellbeing and to inspiring individuals and their families with serious mental illness through the promotion of wellness, self – determination and recovery focused services.
     
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit: One of the Health Unit’s goals is individuals having opportunities to have a healthy life, realizing their own potential, in a community that effectively responds to the determinants of health. Promoting health equity requires improving the living conditions that keep us healthy, and the social, economic, and health systems that support us when we get sick. Health equity means we also identify and address the inequitable distribution of power, money and resources that are essential for improving health and well-being.

Tanis Brown is a Registered Nurse & Health Equity Coordinator at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit working with individuals and community service providers to promote awareness and advocate for health equity in the population, by identifying gaps and reducing barriers that support health and well-being for everyone.

  • The Legal Clinic: The Legal Clinic provides free non-profit legal service for low income people in Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Counties with the Landlord and Tenant Board, Social Benefits Tribunal, Social Security Tribunal of Canada, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
     
  • The Table Community Food Centre: The Table’s mission is to foster a community that collaborates and empowers each other to improve access to healthy food, improve food skills and food literacy, advocate for individual well-being, and educate, engage and advocate on social policies to address food insecurity and poverty.
     
  • Victim Services: Victim Services Lanark County is a community-based non-profit organization who works in partnership with Police, Emergency Services and local agencies.

We are a 24/7 agency that provides immediate, confidential, crisis intervention services, practical assistance, information, referrals and emotional support to persons affected by crime, tragedy and disaster.

 

Government

  • Lanark Housing: The Social Housing Department can help you obtain/maintain housing within Lanark County. We run a variety of programs that can help you including;
  • Social Housing Registry for Rent Geared to Income (RGI) Housing or commonly referred to as the “wait list”
  • Homeownership Program
  • Renovate Lanark  
  • Minor Home Repair
  • Domiciliary Hostels 
  • Housing Help 
  • Homemakers

 

  • Ontario Disability Support Program: Income support for adults who are in financial need and who have been determined to be disabled under the disability adjudication process defined in the Ontario Disability Support Program Act.  Eligible persons receive a monthly living allowance, drug, dental and other basic benefits.  Employment supports are also offered to individuals with a disability.

 

  • Tay Valley Township Planning, Noelle Reeve, Tay Valley Township Planner: The Planning Department is here to help residents, developers, builders and others in planning, designing and building a sustainable Township.

Land use planning means managing our land and resources. It helps each community to set goals about how it will develop and to work out ways of reaching those goals while keeping important social, economic and environmental concerns in mind. It balances the interests of individual property owners with the wider interests and objectives of the whole community.

Good planning leads to orderly growth and the efficient provision of services. It affects all of us and helps us to have the kind of community we want.

 

 

 

Join author Jay Sinha for an informative presentation and discussion on the issues of plastic pollution and how to move towards a life without plastic.

Every Thursday from 10-1 in the Peer Advocacy Office.

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