An essential service
Stronger Together has been our mantra as we responded to the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. We were relieved when the Province declared us an essential service. We knew we were – but we needed the green light to carry on the crucial work of keeping our tenants safe and well.
Our offices may have been closed, but we were busier than ever! Houselink’s team proved their reputation for going above and beyond, nimbly adjusting services to ensure the safety of our tenants and themselves.
Early on, we ensured every staff member was competent in using masks, shields, gowns and gloves. When we sadly closed the community kitchens and social recreation programs that so many of our participants value, we were still able to ensure our participants could eat well. Thanks to the Community Food Centres Canada who supplemented meals prepared through our Food Program, we were able to provide 6 healthy meals per week in 5 buildings through most of the spring.
In our shared houses where social distancing is challenging, we created safety kits, including user-friendly information based on Ministry of Health guidelines, hand sanitizers, masks, signage and cleaning products. We partnered with local health units to provide mobile testing wherever tenants in shared homes wanted to be tested. Should any tenant contract Covid-19, we were prepared with isolation units created jointly with other supportive housing partners.
Expanded services during the pandemic
delivered twice a week, including precooked meals and potatoes, peas, rice, pasta and other staples
in people supported by our Housing Transitions team to move homeless people out of shelters and into homes
in our Steps to Support Team’s interactions with Toronto Community Housing tenants. The team also created a “pantry” and consistently brought groceries to individuals and families unable to go to the grocery store.
Health and safety during the pandemic
Supportive Employment Program participants began more frequent cleaning and sterilizing Houselink’s buildings
Masks for all tenants.Thanks to the Sewing Army — a group of homemakers, stay at home people and anyone with time to sew — who made close to 800 of the 1500 masks.
A new peer warm line staffed every afternoon by someone with lived experience
Increase in wellness checks conducted by phone
Increased access to the internet with the donation of 80 phones and 4-month data plans, plus tech support, thanks to a generous Rogers donation. Now 93% of people supported by our Transitions Team have phones. Access to the internet is essential these days to gain self-reliance and access to resources!
Black Lives Matter
Given the incidents that took place this year, in Toronto as well as south of the border, we further our resolve to confront and reduce anti-black racism in all its forms, starting with this public statement to guide future activities:
Houselink stands with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities who are fighting for justice against racism in all forms. We stand ready to do our part to ensure that racism is never an issue that only BIPOC care about. People within these communities experience overt, covert and systemic racism on a daily basis, and only when this is acknowledged, understood, and challenged can it be eliminated. Each of us MUST commit to educating ourselves, to be aware of our white privilege and to begin to dismantle our internalized biases. We have the responsibility to make a change by standing up, and calling out injustice and racism whenever and wherever we are witness to it.
As a first step towards this goal, our Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism Committee is working on a training curriculum designed to build more awareness in how white privilege and racism is experienced here at Houselink, as well as strategies we can use to combat it. Houselink will seek advice, guidance and leadership from the Black Caucus for all of this work.
Houselink is committed to do the work that is necessary to eliminate Anti-Black racism, Anti-Indigenous racism and all other forms of racialized and systemic oppression, in order to move toward to a fair and just society.
Passing the torch at 40 Oaks
When the Toronto Christian Resource Centre opened the doors of its new community centre and housing development at 40 Oaks, it chose Houselink as its first property manager.
This state-of-the-art building in the heart of Regent Park features 87 affordable homes and a 5,000 square foot community hub. Before the building opened in 2012, Houselink helped plan the move-ins and established management systems, and then managed the building for 8 years.
Our contract ended on March 31st, 2020 when the CRC amalgamated with the Fred Victor Centre and was equipped with its own in-house team of property management experts. We are proud to have been part of 40 Oaks’ success.