The overall rental housing system is more resilient when renters are aware of their rights. Housing providers and other support systems also need to have the understanding to support the achievement of those rights. This helps renters maintain their dignity and human rights and is an important part of ensuring healthy and diverse communities.
The Implementing the Right to Housing in the Supportive Housing Sector project is part of the National Housing Strategy Demonstration Initiative. It will showcase the positive impact that promoting rights-based practices can have in supportive rental housing communities. This will enhance the ability of renters to navigate housing laws and systems and result in more stable, successful tenancies.
Key Findings / Key Goals
A human rights-based approach to housing as the starting point for supporting people in rental housing.
A prototype rights-based education model for stakeholders within the supportive housing system, including peer supporters, housing providers and renters.
A series of best practices to help other supportive housing providers implement the education model across different contexts.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Building bridges between landlords and tenants
The supportive housing sector serves some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. This includes people with recent experiences of homelessness, people with disabilities and people with addiction issues. These groups are more likely to experience barriers and human rights violations within the housing system. Housing providers are obligated to meet their needs, but there is a huge knowledge gap about the rights of tenants.
Many housing providers understand that they have an important role to play in delivering better housing outcomes for vulnerable tenants. They are increasingly seeking models that support their capacity to do so. However, there’s a lack of engaging education opportunities to learn about their housing rights and human rights obligations. A model is needed that builds bridges between landlords and tenants, allowing them to collaborate on human rights.
A prototype human rights education model
This demonstration builds on previous work by The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA). CERA has delivered educational programming on human rights knowledge for renters and service providers for more than 30 years. The demonstration continues that work, using CERA’s prototype human rights education model for clients, peers and supportive housing staff. This modular education model also involves landlords in the entire process.
The innovative education model establishes a human rights approach as the starting point for supporting vulnerable renters. Instead of providing support through outreach from an expert, the model builds skills and knowledge among both renters and landlords. It also provides ongoing capacity-building with housing and service providers and residents at both sites. This includes an enhanced version of CERA’s existing informal mediation services.
The project will showcase the benefits of this approach over 18 months at two sites operated by supportive housing providers. Staff will receive training, and they will provide input into the development of materials and the assessment of gaps. The project partners also will help to develop the training and help reach client populations with the educational content.
More appropriate and responsive policies
Making renters and landlords more aware of their rights and responsibilities under Ontario housing law has several potential benefits. It will reduce tenant turnover, helping improve rental stability and prevent higher rents through turnover. It also can result in more appropriate and responsive policies, programs and practices from housing providers.
The potential impact of the project is significant. There are more than 22,000 supportive housing units for renters in Ontario alone, and 1,500 community-based non-profit housing providers. Many of these providers could benefit from the education and support model. Further expanding it to other rental models in Ontario would extend that reach even further.
Adaptable to different housing models or contexts
The modular nature of the education model makes it adaptable to different housing models or contexts. It’s responsive to the specific needs of communities and circumstances, including towns or cities of different sizes. The model’s framework could even be adapted to make it relevant in different jurisdictions. A set of best practices based on the demonstration also will be created for other supportive housing providers to use.
A series of guides will be produced to reach supportive housing stakeholders. This includes a series of human rights impact testimonials and reports, shared through social media and CERA’s newsletter. These products and webinars showcasing the projects impact will be shared with decision-makers in municipal and federal governments.
Project Team: Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation in Ontario (CERA)
Location: Toronto, ON
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- Dixon Hall
- Mainstay Housing
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