Community Advocacy Office

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COVID19 Update:

Please note that currently the Community Advocacy Office is operating remotely. Please call (613-267-6428 ext 29) or email (advocacy@thetablecfc.org) and a Community Navigator will return your call during our regular office hours.

 

The Community Advocacy Office is located downstairs at The Table on the same floor as the Good Food Bank. The office is run by community members with lived experience of living on low-incomes and navigating government programs and other resources in our local area.

Community Navigators are available to offer resources, referrals, and support on a wide array of issues from applying for help with utility bills, to replacing lost identification, to helping fill out paperwork, to conducting a housing search, to discussing your options in a difficult situation. The office is open to all community members and no appointment is needed.

In some cases, your interaction with us may be like asking for directions, and just need to be pointed in the right direction. In other cases, it may be more like visiting an information centre when arriving at a new place, where you have some understanding of what your needs are, but may need some more detailed conversations and perhaps a map or two to figure out where you need to go. 

In other cases, you may be dealing with a more complex situation, or be stuck waiting for the help you need from more formal organizations, and you may find us helpful as companions on your journey to help read the map, check in regularly, and maybe make some calls on your behalf while you focus on the road ahead. 

No matter what, you are the one in the “driver’s seat”. We are here to help you get where you’re going.

Monday, 2 - 5pm; Tuesday, 12 - 3:30pm; Wednesday, 3:30 - 6pm; Friday, 2 - 5pm

613-267-6428 x29, advocacy@thetablecfc.org 

Advocacy Initiatives

Did you know that the Ontario Government has a Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) on Affordable Housing and so does your municipality’s Official Plan?

Did you know the PPS and the Official Plan(s)have certain requirements and targets for new residential developments?

Hurrah you might be thinking, as you are concerned about housing costs, be they ownership or rentals. However, are you sure that the Upper Tier ( Lanark County) or Lower Tier (Beckwith, Carleton Place, Drummond/North Elmsley, Lanark Highlands, Mississippi Mills, Montague, Perth, Smith Falls or Tay Valley) governments are conforming to these requirements?

It’s time to start asking questions!

 

How do you know if your Lower or Upper Tier municipality is meeting those requirements and target goals?

 Well… you don’t. New development proposals are not required to state what their homes will sell for or what their new rental developments will rent for. As residents and council members we need answers in order to make informed decisions.

How do you know what the actual price of Affordable housing is in your municipality?

 Well…you don’t because unfortunately your Municipal Planner probably doesn’t know either. When your Municipal Planner prepares a report on any new residential development proposal the developer and the Municipal Planner are not obligated to provide data on how the proposal will meet the municipal Affordable target goals. Without data you cannot know if a development will meet your municipalities target goals and/or if it’s fulfilling the PPS Affordable directives.

 

What does the PPS say about Affordable Housing?

   The PPS requires municipalities to have Affordable Housing Policies in their Official Plans. Under section 1.4 subsection 1.4.3:

(Municipal) Planning authorities shall provide for an appropriate range and mix of housing options and densities to meet projected market-based and affordable housing needs of current and future residents of the regional market area by:

 a) establishing and implementing minimum targets for the provision of housing which is affordable to low and moderate income households and which aligns with applicable housing and homelessness plans. However, where planning is conducted by an upper-tier municipality, the upper-tier municipality in consultation with the lower-tier municipalities may identify a higher target(s) which shall represent the minimum target(s) for these lower-tier municipalities;

   Your Lower Tier municipality probably has an Affordable Housing policy in their Official Plan and even a specified target goal, along with a definition of Affordable.

Definitions: The following definitions were taken directly from the PPS 2020. They are not easily understood, all the more reason it’s time to ask.

In the PPS Affordable is for:

 a) ownership,

the least expensive of:

 1. housing for which the purchase price results in annual accommodation costs which do not exceed 30 percent of gross annual household income for low and moderate income households; or

2. housing for which the purchase price is at least 10 percent below the average purchase price of a resale unit in the regional market area;

b) rentals,

the least expensive for

 1. a unit for which the rent does not exceed 30 percent of gross annual household income for low and moderate income households; or

 2. a unit for which the rent is at or below the average market rent of a unit in the regional market area.

Low and moderate income households means:

 For ownership;

households with incomes in the lowest 60 percent of the income distribution for the regional market area; or

For rentals,

households with incomes in the lowest 60 percent of the income distribution for renter households for the regional market area. (PPS 2020)

Conclusion:

 So according to the PPS, Upper and Lower Tier governments have a vital role in ensuring they are fully engaged in providing Affordable housing. Ask the council and staff of your municipality how many of the new residential builds in your community are Affordable. If they respond that they are providing Affordable housing by providing a variety of types and densities it does not necessarily mean that the housing will be Affordable for low and moderate income households.

Just because you build more of something won’t magically make present or future homes Affordable for households that need them. Some day you or a family member might be the one that needs it.  With the Provincial and Municipal elections coming up let’s all start asking questions, be curious, be informed and be involved!

Lanark County Community Action Network:

Community Action Network | The Table Community Food Centre (thetablecfc.org)

 
 
At the Community Advocacy Office , we hear from a number of people in the community facing various housing insecure situations. Unfortunately, the housing crisis continues to worsen. Lanark County will be conducting a survey to determine how many people throughout the county are currently experiencing homelessness between September 21 - 24, 2021.
Participants may share as much or as little information as they wish, and will receive a gift card. If you or someone you know is currently without a permanent residence, please reach out to complete a survey. Surveys will be conducted in-person and by phone.
You can call the Advocacy Office at 613-267-6428 x29 (leave a message and we will call you back) or email advocacy@thetablecfc.org if you would like to participate in the survey.
 
Additionally, you may go directly to Lanark County Social Services and complete the survey with them during business hours:

Join the Community Navigators for a Virtual Coffee & Craft on two more Sundays this Winter:
February 14th, 2pm - 4pm
March 21st, 2pm - 4pm
 
During our last Virtual C&C, we had all sorts of crafters Zoom in, including some sock darning, tatting, toilet paper roll theatre, and even baking!
For a Zoom link or call-in number, email advocacy@thetablecfc.org or call 613-267-6428 x29.
OR fill out this registration form: https://forms.gle/rGew3Qj41u78VKG4A
 
We'll have a baking kit and some materials available for pick-up on the Thursday before the event, so please register by then if you wish to pick one up.

 

In consultation with Victims Services, the Community Advocacy Office has put together the following resource on rental fraud. In this document, you will learn about some common types of rental fraud and information about who to call if you believe you are a victim of rental fraud. If you have more questions or would like to connect with a Community Advocate, please contact us at 613-267-6428 x29 or advocacy@thetablecfc.org

 

Rental Fraud & How to Avoid It

Rental fraud is more common than you might think. Financial fraud can exact a heavy emotional toll on its victims; common feelings include anger, regret, embarrassment, sadness, shame, guilt, confusion, depression, and stress. It is important to realize that the blame belongs to the perpetrator, not the victim. Here are some common scams, warning signs, and tips on how to avoid and deal with fraud.

7 Top Rental Housing Scams

#1 Phantom Rentals: An ad for a place that does not exist or is not for rent. Their goal is to get your money before you find out.

#2 Hijacked Ads: A fake landlord posts an ad for a real place, with altered contact information.

#3 Already Rented: A landlord uses an ad to collect deposits or application fees for a place already rented.

#4 Missing Amenities: An ad for a real place that lists amenities it does not have (to get a higher rent).

#5 Bait-and-Switch: The landlord tries to get you to sign a lease or collect a deposit for a different property than the one advertised.

#6 Suspicious Money Requests: You are asked to send money when you haven’t seen the apartment or met anyone, to pay an illegal security or holding deposit, a full year’s worth of rent, or other upfront fees.

#7 Identity Theft: An ad that is really a trick to get you to hand over confidential info such as a Social Insurance Number (SIN) or banking information.

Warning Signs

  • Ads that are “too good to be true,” for example: very low rent, great amenities, and sought after neighbourhoods. Check other listings in the general area to get an idea of of the current market rates for comparison.
  • You're asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place. Always request a lease or contract and review it thoroughly.
  • When you ask about the apartment, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information.
  • You’re asked for money right away (security deposit, first month’s rent etc.), and the landlord tries to rush you by claiming other people are interested.
  • You're asked to send a security deposit or personal information to a landlord outside the country; never do business with an overseas landlord unless you have personally verified their identity and ensured that they own the apartment advertised.
  • You're offered a unit but no one does a background check on you.
  • Ads that show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that don't match the address of the actual property. Make sure to see the apartment in person, or use the internet to find photos and research the address. If it is a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
  • The landlord only wants to communicate via e-mail. Dealing locally is best and it is safest to meet in person and face to face. Schedule a viewing when the landlord will be present.
  • The landlord wants a deposit or rent payments sent using Western Union or MoneyGram, which are popular for scams because they are instant, untraceable, and global. Requests to wire money are sure signs of scams, and sending money in any form overseas will likely result in losing all of it.
  • Be sure to know your rights as a tenant. Consult your provincial or territorial department or ministry of housing.

Who to Contact if you have been Victimized

  • Local Police: The police will make a report, provide helpful referrals, and warn the public. Smiths Falls Police Service: 613-283-0357. Ontario Provincial Police 1-888-310-1122.
  • The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC):  1-888-495-8501 or through CAFC’s Fraud Reporting System.
  • Your Bank or Financial Institution: If you suspect that someone has gained access to your bank accounts or credit cards, contact your bank immediately and freeze the accounts.
  • Equifax or TransUnion: They can monitor your credit file and put a “fraud alert” on your file.
  • The Competition Bureau’s Information Centre: For helpful resources for avoiding scams; 1-800-348-5358.
  • Consumer Protection Ontario: An awareness program from Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

 

Sources: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (Canada.ca); Rentboard.ca; Government of Canada, Competition Bureau Canada (Canada.ca); Student Life, University of Toronto (https://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/hs/housing-scams); Victims Services Ontario.

 

On Thursday, February 20th, The Table Community Food Centre hosted a housing forum in response to the current housing crisis with the aim to create housing solutions in Lanark County.

As a part of the next steps to addressing housing insecurity in Lanark County, the following report provides a summary of the forum as well as the committments made by participants to work together to overcome housing insecurity.

 

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