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Vital Conversation Discusses Housing in Grey Bruce

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On December 9, 2021, Community Foundation Grey Bruce hosted an online interactive Vital Conversation on Housing. Over 85 participants attended the conversation and heard from four inspiring local guest speakers, followed by the opportunity to participate in smaller group discussions on topics related to housing. This event was facilitated by Melri Wright and Mike Wright of Ledge Leadership and was supported by Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd and community partner, The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay.

Participants heard from: 

  • Diane Giroux, Project Manager from M'Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre
  • Kee May Ip, Project Coordinator for the Four County Labour Market Planning Board
  • Christine MacDonald, Director of Human Services for Bruce County
  • Erica Phipps, Researcher and Director of the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment-led RentSafe initiative

The speakers highlighted the importance of community when discussing housing and stressed the importance of developing relationships and bringing all voices to the table when tackling issues related to housing. Diane Giroux shared how important developing relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous groups are when addressing housing in our communities. Kee May Ip shared how housing is intertwined with other societal problems. Christine MacDonald discussed the importance of innovation and noted that small changes can have a large difference when thinking about housing solutions. Erica Phipps encouraged bringing lived experience into the conversation to hear from all voices as housing solutions are being discussed. The speakers agreed that intersectoral collaboration is important when looking for solutions to address issues related to housing.

The conversations in the breakout sessions addressed affordability and accessibility of housing, living standards, wellbeing, and equity.  These sessions found that housing is not just a problem for lower-income earners, but the housing crisis is now affecting everyone across all different stages of life. Participants shared that the high monthly cost of housing has made paying monthly bills more difficult and some residents of Grey-Bruce have had to compromise their health and wellbeing to ensure that they are able to keep a roof over their heads. The breakout sessions enforced the intersectionality of the housing crisis and the importance of housing on community vitality, as mentioned by the guest speakers. 

Marilyn Struthers is a Facilitator of the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay's Working Group on Social Finance and Housing studying the commodification and financing of housing with the National Financialization of Housing Lab sponsored by Social Innovation Canada and CMHC. Marilyn participated in the event and said: “With guest speakers … and some great facilitation, the evening was a wonderful balance of analysis and story built from the group up by participants. It was a super interactive program that has me wondering about what we can see when we put systems thinking and story together in our community.”

The discussion topics and input shared by the participants will be reflected in a Vital Focus Report on Housing being prepared by the Foundation set for release in Spring 2022. 

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