Call to Meeting, Wednesday, March 20th

Well, the last month has been very busy and so not a lot of online activity taking place.  However, hopefully everything will be kept more fully up-to-date here and we are having our next meeting this week so please spread the word.

Where: 457 York St., meet and the Resource Centre before moving to women’s crashbeds.

When: 10:00am-11:30am, Wednesday, March 20th

Who: Any current or former shelter residents.

Agenda:

  • Review of the proposed final draft of the Bill of Rights for Shelter Residents
  • Follow-up on Discussion Groups at sites frequented by low income residents of London

13Mar20

Call to Meeting: Wednesday, February 20th

This meeting will be focused upon completely reviewing and revising the Bill of Rights that we have drafted for shelter residents.  We will be evaluating and incorporating feedback we have received from many parties so if you attend this meeting, be prepared to work!

Where: 457 York St., meet and the Resource Centre before moving to women’s crashbeds.

When: 10:00am-11:30am, Wednesday, February 20th

Who: Any current or former shelter residents.

Agenda:

  • Full Review of the Proposed Bill of Rights for Shelter Residents

Meeting03Feb20

Minutes from February 6th Meeting

London Shelter Residents Advocacy Group (LSRAG) Meeting Minutes

Date: 13/Feb/06               Time: 1000hrs-1115hrs

[Participants, chair, and the person recording the minutes are all left anonymous in the public record.]

Agenda:

  1. Follow-up re:
    1. Bill of Rights and meeting with Shelter Directors
    2. Forum for people experiencing poverty in London
    3. Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) and questions for Ontario Works (OW)
    4. workshop at Women’s Community House
    5. internal matters related to some shelters
    6. Proposed review of differences between “Women’s Shelters” and “Emergency Shelters.”
    7. Proposed review of complaints processes
    8. New Business

One: Follow-up Items

(A) Bill of Rights and meeting with Shelter Directors

  • [The matters discussed in this section will not be posted online out of respect for the other parties involved in the conversation.]
  • ACTION: At the meeting on February 20th, 2013, we will review the feedback we have compiled from various parties and complete another draft.  Once this is done, it will be distributed, shared online, and sent out to the Shelter Directors for one more meeting with them in March 2013.

(B) Forum for people experiencing poverty in London

  • Reviewed the conversation that was had with the Director of another agency regarding co-hosting a forum for low income people in London. In that conversation, this Director proposed that we begin by hosting a series of working groups at the community hubs frequented by low income people (the Ark, shelters, the free store, the soup kitchens, Atlohsa, and the coffee house) in order to get a read on the matters that are priorities to the community members and to learn about the best ways of creating conduits for information.  This would also provide us with an opportunity to prepare a petition in advance of the forum that we could have for people to sign when the forum occurs.
  • Also spoke about the need for the forum to be in a space and at a time that is comfortable and conducive to welcoming low income folks.  A chance for people to express their concerns and have their voices heard.  But must be careful not to make any promises that we cannot keep in terms of what it is about or what it may accomplish.
  • ACTION: this process was approved and the group will begin contacting the various community hubs in order to try and facilitate the working groups.

(C) Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) and Questions for Ontario Works (OW)

  • Dan mentioned that he had contacted the OW manager for Hostels, in order to try and have a conversation regarding the questions and concerns that group members and other shelter residents have raised regarding the ways in which BNA is being distributed.  He forwarded Dan’s email to the City Manager for Homelessness who then sent a separate email to a shelter Director.  This Director spoke with Dan but it was quickly apparent that this was the wrong person to be addressing the concerns raised as they were related to OW practices and directions they have been given to shelter providers.
  • Some questions were also raised re: the impact of the proposed decentralization of the work done out of the Market Tower.
  • ACTION: The concerns mentioned will be forwarded to one of the co-chairs of the OW/ODSP advocates group so that they can be raised in their next meeting (the co-chair is already aware of this).

(D) Workshop at Women’s Community House

  • [This information has been removed from the public minutes in order to protect the confidentiality of the women who attended the workshop.]
  • ACTION: Dan is following-up with Women’s Community House regarding the items mentioned above.  Also, group members expressed an interest in holding group meetings in the evening (at 19:30hrs) in a space close to the second stage housing for Women’s Community House in order to try and encourage participation.  This will take place for a trial period in March 2013.

(E) Internal Matters Related to Some Shelters

  • [Because this information pertains to the situation of a particular shelter, it is currently not being posted online.]

Two: Proposed review of differences between “Women’s Shelters” and “Emergency Shelters.”

  • So far, two significant elements of Women’s Community House practices stand out: (1) the fact that they destroy records after 30 days; and (2) the fact that they do not need to provide full and proper legal names to the government in order to track numbers and receive funding.
  • It is worth exploring how these things might also be implemented in Emergency Shelters but finding the buy-in may be difficult.
  • ACTION: continue to learn more about the structure and policies related to Women’s Shelters.  This will be ongoing and is not the top priority at the moment.

Three: Proposed review of complaints processes

  • It seems apparent that there is no will to change or review this that will come from the top down at this time.  But it is agreed that a more systematic review of this and of alternative complaints processes may be beneficial.
  • It may also be useful to ask programs to start asking for more regular feedback and evaluations from residents regarding staff and programs.
  • ACTION: Dan to initiate review process (again, not the top priority and this will be ongoing).  Also, Dan will draft a sample evaluation form and contact shelter managers about possible implementation.  If they are uninterested in implementing it, the group could initiate it independently.

Four: New Business

  • Questions were raised regarding guidelines for police access. Dan to follow-up.
  • Questions about whether people inappropriate for shelters are being placed in shelters.  Conversations about how people are looking to address this (with hospitals and jails – and mixed feelings about those ideas).
  • Matters related to cleanliness as a safety issue were raised again.
  • The group was urged to try and connect and build bridges with some other groups in town.  Those named were: the injured workers group, Occupy, the WOTCH advocates group.  Dan to follow-up.
  • Changes to the WSIB appeals process were noted and the process seems more intimidating and the changes seem to function as a deterrent.  Things to note when considering complaints processes.  Also, are records of complaints and complainants kept and for how long?
  • Matters related to the need for more parking at shelters were also mention.

END OF MEETING

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 10:00hr, Women’s Crash Beds.

Call to Meeting: Wednesday Feb. 6th

This month has been extremely busy so I apologize for neglecting to update the blog and facebook pages as frequently as they should have been.  Hopefully I’ll be able to rectify that soon.  Until then, please try to attend our next meeting!

Where: 457 York St., meet and the Resource Centre before moving to women’s crashbeds.

When: 10:00am-11:30am, Wednesday, February 6th

Who: Any current or former shelter residents.

Agenda:

  • Follow-up regarding:
    • the Bill of Rights and the Meeting with the Shelter Directors;
    • a Forum for People experiencing poverty in London;
    • issues raised regarding Ontario Works and the way it is being distributed;
    • issues raised at the meeting at Women’s Community House;
    • internal matters raised relating to some shelter practices.
  • Proposed review of differences between “Women’s Shelters” and “Emergency Shelters”
  • Proposed review of complaints processes
  • Any New Business

Feb6Meet

Minutes from January 16th Meeting

London Shelter Residents Advocacy Group (LSRAG) Meeting Minutes

Date: 13/Jan/16                                Time: 1000hrs-1130hrs

[The names of those in attendance, along with the names of the Chair and the person taking minutes will not be mentioned in publicly displayed minutes.]

Agenda:

  1. Discussion of Upcoming Events
  2. Discussion of hosting our own forum in February
  3. Changes to PNA and Community Start-Up
  4. Publicizing Minutes
  5. New Business

One: Discussion of Upcoming Events

  • The following events were discussed:
    • The City-hosted Community Forum on homelessness  on Jan 22nd.
    • The meeting with the shelter Directors on Jan 28th regarding the Bill of Rights drafted by the LSRAG.
    • The London Homeless Coalition (LHC) Steering Committee elections on February 4th.
    • Regarding the City forum on the 22nd: the group discussed doing a more sustained campaign to notify low income people that this forum is taking place and to try and encourage people to attend.  It was noted that this forum is significant given the way it is drawing together the previous four forums in order to propose a plan to move forward.  A poster has been created for distribution but some members preferred the flyer from the City and both will be made available for distribution.
    • Regarding the meeting with the shelter Directors on the 28th: group members agreed to spend some time reviewing the Bill of Rights in order to refresh our familiarity with it prior to the meeting.  It was also noted that, while representatives would be present from the Salvation Army: Centre of Hope,  the Men’s Mission and Rotholme, The Unity Project, and Women’s Community House,  the group has been unsuccessful in getting any response from Zhaawanong.
    • Regarding the LHC Steering Committee elections: the group was notified of the result of the motion made at the last LHC meeting (this motion was regarding having seats established on the LHC Steering Committee for collective entities composed of people with lived experiences of homelessness or people from other priority populations identified in the London Community Plan on Homelessness, in order to facilitate more direct participation from members of these groups).  The LHC voted to have the Steering Committee examine this matter as this would require a rewrite of the Terms of Reference.
    • Additionally, the group members present were interested in learning more about the candidates for the LHC Steering Committee.  The group had emailed the current Chair of the LHC (Jens Stickling) in order to request bios of the candidates but the Chair responded by stating that there was not enough time to do this and stating that each candidate would have two minutes at the next meeting to speak about him- or herself so that people could cast informed votes.  The group felt that this is less than ideal for creating an informed vote and so has decided to try and contact candidates individually in order to create our own bio sheet which can be discussed with current and former shelter residents.

Two: Discussion of hosting our own forum in February

  • Given the busy-ness of everything that is occurring at this time of year in relation to the City’s plans on homelessness, the cuts to social assistance, the implementation of the new funding model for shelters, and the budget deadline approaching for the City at the end of February, it was noted that it may be difficult to get City representation at a forum held in February.  The group discussed postponing this forum but decided to try and go ahead and host its own forum to continue to try and inform people of what is occurring, to encourage people to get more involved, and to (hopefully) demonstrate that it is possible to hold events that see a much higher turn-out of people with “lived experience.”  A meeting with the Director of another agency will be arranged, as they have expressed interest in co-hosting this event with us.

Three: Changes to PNA and Community Start-Up

  • All the members present at the meeting were familiar with the changes related to PNA (which has now been eliminated making shelter residents eligible for the Basic Needs Allowance provided by Ontario Works) and the Community Start-up (which has been eliminated provincially and temporarily replaced locally with the less comprehensive “Housing First Temporary Support Fund” that the City is running via the Salvation Army).
  • The following issues were raised about the changes:
    • The fact that the Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) is being prorated meaning that a resident may move into a shelter on the first of the month, not be provided a meeting with a worker from Ontario Works (OW) until the 7th of the month and will then not receive any money for the first week that he or she was in shelter.  If further paperwork needs to be tracked down by this resident o show that s/he is eligible for BNA then this only furthers the delay and decreases the amount the resident will receive for that month.
    • This delay also impacts the distribution of drug cards, meaning that some residents with significant challenges related to mental health may end up going a week without receiving their medications.
    • Questions were raised as to why the names of all the people who move into shelters are being sent to OW regardless of whether or not they have identified themselves as being on OW or ODSP and whether or not they have identified an interest in being on OW or ODSP.  If some residents are not on OW or ODSP and are not interested in trying to access either of those benefits, why does OW need to know about them?  This seems like an invasion of privacy.
    • Some questions were also raised as to why shelter residents, unlike members of the general public, are not being given direct access to workers at OW but, instead, are required to go through a Case Manager in the shelter in order to receive a meeting with a worker at OW.  This seemed discriminatory to some group members.
    • It was decided that the group would contact the Supervisor of Section H of OW (i.e. the Supervisor who oversees the distribution of OW to shelter residents) in order to try and have a meeting to address some of these concerns and to receive further clarification on this matter.

Four: Publicizing Minutes

  • It was suggested that minutes from meetings be posted publically on notice boards and online on the LSRAG website.  The group agreed to do this, although confidentiality would be maintained in relation to who was attending the group and to some matters discussed as determined by the group on a case-by-case basis.

Five: New Business

  • Several Items were raised:
    • Increasing group membership and participation;
    • Internal matter related to specific shelters regarding (a) the safety of residents; (b) the professionalism of some staff members; (c) the state of repair of some buildings; and (d) detrimental curfews, paired with the observation that the official complaints processes in place do not seem to be working [NB: the discussion of these items will not be posted publicly].
    • The upcoming meeting with residents at a local shelter regarding the Bill of Rights we have drafted
    • Suggestion to study how things are structured in “Women’s Shelters” versus in “Crisis Shelters.”
    • Regarding increasing our membership, various proposals were discussed in order to try and capture the attention of other current and former shelter residents (serving food or refreshments at the meeting, doing a draw for a gift card or some other item, changing the meeting time or place).  It was also noted that the more we get out and involved in the community, the more we should be able to attract other interested parties.
    • Regarding the upcoming meeting with residents at a local shelter, it was announced that this had just been confirmed and would take place on January 23rd (so that the suggestions and criticisms raised in this meeting could be considered prior to our meeting with the shelter Directors).
    • The suggestion that we familiarize ourselves with the differences that exist between “Women’s Shelters” and “Crisis Shelters” was approved as there may be some useful educational material found in the ways in which “Women’s Shelters” are operated and legislated that we can incorporate into our own thinking.

End of Meeting

Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 30th, 10:00am.

Community Forum: Reducing and Preventing Homelessness in London

Housing is a Human Right.

Housing is a Human Right.

On January 22nd, the City of London is hosting a Community Forum from noon until 3pm at the St. Peter’s Cathedral Gymnasium (533 Clarence St.).

This forum will be about reducing and preventing homelessness in London and will be focused upon further developing a continuum of care (from preventing homeless, to providing rapid rehousing to those who are experiencing homelessness, to providing appropriate supports for those who need or request support in order to maintain housing once it has been attained).  As such, it seeks to bring together the information that was gathered at the previous four forums hosted by the City in order to move things forward.

This is an important forum and the London Shelter Residents Advocacy Group is trying to notify current or former shelter residents, people experiencing homelessness, and low income people of this forum, as they have been explicitly invited to attend.  If you can make it, please consider coming out to have your voice heard.  If you are unable to make it, but would otherwise like to attend, please let the City know the reasons why you are unable to attend (for example, if this is an inconvenient time to meet, then let the City know so that things can be adjusted accordingly for future forums).

We have made the following poster and you are free to print it off, distribute it, or post it anywhere that you feel might be appropriate.

ForumJan22Poster

Please spread the word of this event.  To date, participation in these forums by those who will be directly impacted in their personal lives by the cuts and the changes being implemented has been done by a small, not very vocal minority (based upon head counts we have done at each of the prior forums, the LSRAG estimates that these people constitute roughly 10% of the people in attendance).  Some City staff members have described this turn-out as sufficient but we believe that far more representation from “people with lived experience” is needed.