Today’s announcement of the National Housing Council appointments fails to include lived expertise of homelessness representation. Read the statement from CLELN’s Co-Chairs, below.
Today’s National Housing Council announcement is a step forward in the meaningful and progressive realization of the right to housing. However, our rallying cry, “Nothing about us, without us” has apparently fallen on deaf ears as the federal government has failed to appoint anyone with lived or living experience of homelessness. This lack of representation is deeply disappointing and concerning.
The National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA), which came into law in June 2019, makes the National Housing Council a key commitment to the right to housing. It explicitly requires that members to the Council include persons with human rights expertise as well as lived experience of housing need, and lived experience of homelessness, yet this requirement is not fulfilled in the list presented by the government today, on National Housing Day.
While Lived Experiences were represented and contributed to the first ever “expert roundtable” on Homelessness and was present and contributed to the first ever “expert roundtable ” on the Right to Housing, we have inexplicably been left off the National Housing Council. Not only does this disregard legislation, but more importantly indicates the lack of understanding of the strength, wisdom, and value of lived experts by the decision making panel and the Minister’s office.
The announcement and omission of people with lived experience of homelessness is a reflection of the unacceptable ideology that seems to follow people with lived experience: “You can go this far, but no farther.” Without lived expertise of homelessness on the National Housing Council and where decisions will NOT have the guiding influence of lived experts, we cannot expect desired results for the meaningful realization of the right to housing, which will de-legitimize the council.
“We are committed and will work to ensure that the voices of people with lived experience are in the forefront of all matters regarding housing and homelessness, and to eliminate homelessness—and the National Housing Council is an opportunity to elevate our voices and contribute to meaningful change.”
We acknowledge that there are some council appointments with experience of fleeing domestic violence, core housing need, and other various experiences related to housing—the failure to appoint people with lived experience of homelessness is also a failure to include the voices and experiences of people who have been most affected by the lack of affordable, accessible and adequate housing needed under our human rights obligations. How can the Council meaningfully identify systemic barriers that cause homelessness without the people who have experienced them?
Decades of grassroots mobilization, protest, campaigning, and court challenges from people with lived experience of homelessness has led to the NHSA—and the National Housing Council is an extension of that. The tireless work of people with lived experience of homelessness and advocates led to the creation of this legislation and the need for a National Housing Council, and as such, should not be excluded from it.
The NHSA includes space for potentially four additional members to be appointed to the council. Although we truly believe that the council should have 50% of the appointments with lived expertise, we will be applying pressure on the government to rectify this situation and ensure that people with lived expertise of homelessness are rightly represented on the Council.
The Canadian Lived Experience Leadership Network believes that an end to homelessness in Canada is possible with lived experience leading the way. We are committed and will work to ensure that the voices of people with lived experience are in the forefront of all matters regarding housing and homelessness, and to eliminate homelessness—and the National Housing Council is an opportunity to elevate our voices and contribute to meaningful change.