For those who have followed the Centre’s journey, we have made it quite clear that at the core of everything we do, our predominant value—one we try to disseminate as much as we can—is collaboration. The social housing sector is a diverse place where, over the last few years, many organisations have been forced to compete for dismal funding. This “do our die” attitude has shown a spirit of competition in our midst: that is why it is so refreshing to see this tide slowly changing. We have the pleasure to partner with the Orleans Housing Advisory Committee (OHAC) on a new, exciting initiative.
The OHAC came together in 2018 to facilitate growth, and strengthening, of the community sector in the eastern region of Ottawa. The group is a coalition of 5 small housing providers (with a total of 458 units) with the support of Ottawa Community Housing and Orleans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre.
Recognizing they individually lacked the scale to have the expertise and capacity to take advantage of emerging opportunities to lever their assets, they joined forces to better serve their community. What is even more exciting about the OHAC: they cater to a variety of demographics, including survivors fleeing domestic violence, Indigenous people, people with developmental disabilities, families, single-parent households as well as low-income households.
The primary objective of this initiative is to create an action plan and process to respond to unmet housing need, by leveraging individual skills and property assets to collectively invest in creating new affordable housing stock. Realizing strength lies in numbers, the OHAC will seek to identify the level of resources (land, assets, cash equity) in each organization that may be available to pursue a development application under the National Housing Strategy (NHS) or related programs. This initial step can serve as a springboard to a giant leap: more funding, as well as a widening of services, personnel, and community housing.
“This project is right in the Centre’s priority areas and objectives. We are hoping to see more similar projects coming in. We believe that partnership is a key factor when it comes to the resilience of the sector,” states Aude Morel, the Centre’s program manager in charge of this dossier.
In a gist, the key feature of this initiative is the effort to build capacity across a group of providers, rather than within a single existing provider.
The project will include an empirical element to quantify and segment housing need, a capacity-building process and an engagement process to identify potential resources that exist and can be strengthened. The engagement process will facilitate discussion among providers about how they might collaborate in contributing skills, property assets and potentially cash assets to support investment of additions to both the affordable and supportive housing stock across the Orléans-Cumberland region.
“While this initiative hopes to create capacity to add affordable housing in an underserved area, in addition, we are working with parents of adult children that require supportive housing and hope to identify ways to create inclusive opportunities for these individuals,” states sector leader Steve Pomroy, the consultant appointed to the project.
Better yet, this initiative has the potential to serve as a catalyst for change in the industry by encouraging, and providing a model for, sector-wide collaboration. To borrow the words of Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man and war chief, “As individual fingers we can easily be broken, but all together we make a mighty fist.”
To stay abreast on what is happening in the Orléans-Cumberland community, you can visit the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre’s website and subscribe to their newsletter.