With housing getting more expensive and scarcer from coast to coast, tenants are facing a tighter squeeze, with rising rents, renovictions and living in unsuitable buildings just some of the many issues that need urgent action. And although tenant organizing is well established, tenant leaders need to be better represented in decision-making bodies at grassroot and collective levels, places where they can influence policy change. One of the challenges to leadership recruitment is access to skills that would allow tenants to get involved in a meaningful way. Established in 1968 as a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening the social housing sector, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association aims to fill that gap with the Tenant Representatives Leadership Network.
The Centre’s $97,000 grant will be used to create a Tenant Leadership Group with approximately 25 to 30 people—with a focus on recruiting Indigenous tenants and people with lived experience of homelessness. They will receive professional-development opportunities, training and exposure to best practices, which will be capped in (virtual) face-to-face encounters at the 2021 CHRA National Congress in late April, where they will participate in sessions around tenant engagement and provide feedback on policy direction. Post-congress, members of the Leadership Group would share their knowledge and experience with other tenant groups and representatives in their regions and would be available to participate in public policy discussions and other processes requiring tenant input.