Ottawa ACORN

404 McArthur Ave. (Heartwood House) Ottawa, ON K1K 1G8

Phone: 613-746-5999

ottawa@acorncanada.org

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PERC: Red Tents or Affordable Housing?

 

Jan 16th - The article below is taken from the Peace and Environment Resource Centre in Ottawa, written by Denise Deby.

Dozens of red tents appeared on Parliament Hill last October 19. The tents marked Canada Day of Action for a Federal Housing Strategy, held to coincide with the third reading in Parliament of Bill C-304, "An Act to Ensure Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing for Canadians."

About 150 housing advocates from Ottawa, Toronto, London and Montreal, along with the public, attended a rally on Parliament Hill and at the Human Rights Monument. Related events took place in 10 other Canadian cities. Over 20 national and local housing groups organized the tent event. They include Pivot Legal Society, Canada Without Poverty (CWP) Advocacy Network, ACORN Canada, Impact on Communities Coalition, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, and le Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU).

The idea of using red tents to draw attention to governments' responsibility for housing as a human right came from campaigns in France in 2006 and in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics.

In Canada, an estimated 300,000 people are homeless, with millions more in substandard or unaffordable housing, reports the non-profit Wellesley Institute. In Ottawa, over 10,000 households are waitlisted for social housing. In 2009, 7,500 people in Ottawa stayed in emergency shelters, according to the Alliance to End Homelessness.

Read the full original article at: http://www.perc.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=99:red-tents-or-affordable-housing&catid=37:current-pen-issue&Itemid=58

YourOttawaRegion.ca: Organization fights against what it calls social injustice

Jan 21st - YourOttawaRegion.com came out with a great piece looking at Ottawa ACORN's work to ensure that Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recieve the funding they deserve, it's reproduced below:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now’s (ACORN Canada) latest campaign is getting set to launch. This year they want to make politicians sit up and notice there needs to be improvements to the social assistance system.

ACORN [Canada]’s purpose is to fight for social justice for low income families across Canada. There are 30,000 members in 20 neighbourhood chapters in six Canadian cities.

“We are focused on two points in this campaign – to increase the rates of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program and ensure that the special diet allowance program remains in place,” ACORN board member Kathleen Fortin said.

The meeting will address member’s issues and work on building a strategy on how to get the attention of provincial candidates, MPPs and opposing parties as they get ready to start their 2011 election campaign across Ontario. Fortin said she hopes they will be able to make candidates take note of the needs of those living on an Ontario Works income.

The special diet allowance helps people on Ontario Works and on Ontario Disability Support program manage their health needs, such as diabetes. The McGuinty government announced in March 2010 that changes to the special diet will take place, meaning some who were once eligible for the extra $250 a month allowance will no longer be eligible. Fortin wants the special diet allowance to also be addressed because of concerns members have had about notices they received questioning their diet needs.

Member Profile: Marsha King

Marsha King was a founding member of Ottawa ACORN and, until she passed away in October 2010, a dedicated leader and community activist.  

She joined as one of the first dues paying members in the Vanier chapter of Ottawa ACORN, when an organizer knocked on her door wanting to know what kind of community issues she had.  It wasn’t long before Marsha was standing up in front of her neighbours at community meeting and leading discussing and planning sessions on how to win improvements for tenants and work to raise Ontario Works and Ontario Disability rates.

Marsha was also an active member of her union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).  It was through her introduction into the union that Marsha first developed her commitment to social and economic justice.  The first time an ACORN Canada organizer knocked on her door, the fit was obvious and she never looked back.

Ottawa EMC: Red tents occupy Parliament Hill

Oct 28th, 2010 by James Rubec in the Ottawa EMC

EMC News - Affordable housing advocates are set up red tents on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 19, to highlight the need for a federal housing strategy and the growing concern about homelessness across the country.

The demonstrations came on the eve of the final debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-304, an NDP bill that would commit Ottawa to drafting a plan that would address the housing issue.

Before this third and final reading, the Bloc Quebecois had been dragging its heels, choosing to leave Quebec out of the plan. However on Wednesday, they changed their minds and the plan had to be sent back to committee and adjusted. A date for a final vote is now up in the air, but advocates are optimistic about the bill's future.

Member Profile: Andrea Thomas

Andrea Thomas understands the power of a dollar.  She understood it when she came into Ottawa ACORN’s free tax prep site, hoping to save a couple bucks on the cost of her return and she understands what a couple extra dollars an hour would mean to low wage workers fighting for a municipal living wage policy.

That’s the kind of leader Andrea is.  A community leader from Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood who has been active in campaigns for fair housing and tenants rights, a living wage policy for Ottawa and taken part in countless community meetings.

As a mother of three, it hasn’t always been easy for Andrea to stay active in her local organization.  She says she’s driven by “knowing that through ACORN I can help my neighbours”, whether its working to get their landlord to do repairs or arranging transportation to City Hall for a meeting - and her neighbourhs know they can count on Andrea.  

When asked what she wanted Ottawa ACORN to work on in the last half of 2010, she replied “I hope that we win our living wage campaign, because its something working families desperately need”. Adding that “Ottawa need to understand that ACORN members are taking responsibility for our neighbourhoods, we know no one is going to fix that, we can only do that by organizing.”

 

Member Profile: Sheila Searles

Sheila Searles is a Leader from the South Ottawa ACORN. She's a woman who has always been an active in her community, having served on tenants associations and as the Shop Stewart for her union.

She first became ACORN member in early 2009 after attending her first local chapter meeting. Sheila first heard of ACORN when another member knocked on her door asking her to buy a raffle ticket to help support the leadership conference to Toronto last year.

Sheila has been an active and passionate activist in our housing campaigns since she joined and was part of the leadership team that negotiated major renovations from Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) in summer 2009.  Those negotiations lead to her building and the neighbouring building receiving much needed new investments including new carpets in the hallways, new paint in the hallways, new security camera, new lighting on the outside of her building, new alarm systems, and individual unit repairs. She continues to be a leader within her building and community and actively meets with OCH as a leader of ACORN to ensure repairs and issues are addressed.

Ottawa Metro: Affordable housing plan needed: ACORN

July 9th, 2010 by Steve Collins - Ottawa Metro

About two dozen people gathered outside cabinet minister John Baird’s constituency office to call for a national affordable housing strategy.

Members of the local chapter of the Association for Community Reforms Now (ACORN) came out in support of Bill C-304, a private members’ bill introduced by NDP MP Libby Davies.

“We’re one of the richest countries in the world, and every other (G-8) country has a national housing strategy. Shame on Canada for not having a national housing strategy,” ACORN board member Kathleen Fortin said. “There’s 10,000 people here in Ottawa on the waiting list for housing.”

After the rally, the group attempted to meet with Baird. Office staff refused to open the door, so demonstrators taped a sign to the office door and slipped an information sheet under it.

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