[Fwd: Canada's 'Big City Mayors' endorse HLN Disaster Declaration]

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 11:29:57 -0500

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Canada's 'Big City Mayors' endorse HLN Disaster Declaration
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 11:05:45 +0000
From: "David Hulchanski, University of Toronto"
Reply-To: david.hulchanski@utoronto.ca
To: "HOMELESSNESS -- Toronto Research Working Group"

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is pleased to report that the 
'Big City Mayors,' meeting in Winnipeg this week, endorsed the 
Emergency Declaration, calling homelessness a national disaster 
requiring immediate federal and provincial assistance. [See newspaper 
report below.]

    "That the Provincial and Federal Governments be
    requested to declare homelessness a national disaster
    requiring emergency humanitarian relief and be urged
    to immediately develop and implement a National
    Homelessness Relief and Prevention Strategy using
    disaster relief funds, both to provide the homeless
    with immmediate health protection and housing and
    to prevent further homelessness."

In April 1991 the Big City Mayors caucus of the Federation of 
Canadian Municipalities drafted a 27 page National Action 
Plan on Housing and Homelessness -- which the federal government 
ignored. [See the 1991 newspaper account of this below.]

This was about a year after MP Paul Martin released his report in May 
1990:  "Finding Room:  Housing Solutions for the Future, Report of 
the National Libaral Caucus Task Force on Housing,"  -- which he 
ignored once he became Finance Minister.


Globe and Mail, November 21, 1998-11-21

Mayors Seek Federal Disaster Aid for Homeless

Gay Abbate

The mayors of Canada's largest cities have declared homelessness a
national disaster ands want the federal government to provide
immediate relief funds.

At there meeting in Winnipeg yesterday, the mayors adopted the same
resolution that Toronto adopted several weeks ago.  It calls
homelessness a man-made national crisis and asks Ottawa to give
municipalities money to deal with the problem in the same way it
responds to natural disasters.

With the big-city mayors backing Toronto's resolution, Ottawa will
have to take notice of the problem and take immediate action because
"the resolution crosses party lines and crosses regions," said
Toronto Councillor Jack Layton, who is representing Mayor Mel
Lastman at the conference.


One of the main messages the mayors want to send is that Canada
needs a housing strategy.  "Because there is no national strategy
for housing, people are piling up on our streets," Mr. Layton said,
adding that Canada is the only rich country without a program to
house its most vulnerable citizens.


AND,  FROM 1991:

Big-city mayors map war on homelessness
More money, change of political attitude
urged in bid to avoid urban chaos

The Globe and Mail, Saturday, April 13, 1991

BY ANDRE PICARD,  Quebec Bureau The Globe and Mail 

MONTREAL -- The mayors of Canada's major cities have proposed a
sweeping plan to tackle the crisis of homelessness, warning that the
alternative is urban wastelands rife with poverty, racial strife and

"The long-term cost of homelessness is enormous, in economic and
social terms," Montreal Mayor Jean Dore told reporters yesterday.
"The vitality of Canadian urban centres is at stake."

He said the federal government has to invest at least $100-million
more each year to build subsidized housing but, more importantly,
there has to be a change of attitude among politicians and the
Canadian public.

A report prepared for the big-city mayors' caucus of the Association
of Canadian Municipalities said that, in addition to the estimated
50,000 homeless people in Canada, another 560,000 renters in this
country are in dire straits.

Two-thirds of these tenants who have a "core need" for affordable
housing, meaning they already spend more than 30 per cent of their
income on housing, live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The situation in these three cities will grow worse, the report
predicts, because they deal with most refugees, they are magnets for
the unemployed, and they have growing numbers of senior citizens,
single parents and natives.

"We simply can't afford not to act," said Toronto Mayor Arthur

The mayors' plan calls on municipalities to invest in renovation
projects and modify zoning regulations and building codes to create
affordable housing. Access to existing housing can be improved by
creating referral services, and adopting discrimination bylaws,
according to the outline of the plan.

Edmonton Mayor Jan Reimer said the "housing crunch is beatable if
all levels of government, community agencies and the private sector
co- operate."

She said a commitment to affordable housing for all Canadians has to
move to the top of the political agenda. "Look at the problems of
American cities - drugs, crime, thousands of people living on the
streets. We don't want our cities to be like that, so we have to act
now to avert a crisis."

Peter Dreier, director of housing at the Boston Redevelopment
Authority, said in his keynote address to the mayors' meeting that
Canada must tackle the problems of homelessness and the lack of
low-cost housing now.

To do otherwise, he said, would be to risk repeating the errors of
the United States, where there are more than three million homeless
people and 13 million others who are "one rent increase, one
hospital stay, one accident, one layoff away from homelessness."

Mr. Dreier said the "cities of the United States are awash with
homelessness and fiscal disasters."

Mayor Gordon Campbell said the federal and provincial governments
have to revive the view they held after the Second World War that
the country could not prosper unless every family had a home.

"Housing is a cornerstone of Canadian social policy. Unfortunately,
it's a cornerstone we have been chipping away," he said.

John McDermid, the federal minister of state for housing, defended
his government's $146-million cut in spending on low-cost housing
programs in the last budget, saying Ottawa already spends
$1.9-billion on housing programs and it cannot afford any more.