HRSDC: Accessibility Resource Centre & Homeless Veterans
by PJ Wade
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The ever-expanding Accessibility Resource Centre on the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) website is a perfect example of the variety of curated websites (which you have already paid for) assembled by all levels of government agencies and departments that you may never have heard of, or had any dealings with.
Many of these online information collections answer more questions than you may know keywords for. By expanding knowledge horizons, they can spark imagination to take the accumulated knowledge a step further. For instance, if you’re planning a bathroom or kitchen renovation, have you considered applying universal design principles?
The Accessibility Resource Centre (ARC) provides information on housing, design, communities, workplaces, technology, and much more. The globally-accepted universal design principles are gaining popularity. They can add value with proper application, because they contribute style and utility, as well as accessibility, for everyone. This is in contrast to barrier-free handicapped design which emphasizes wheelchair access and utility. Universal design concentrates on ensuring everybody who uses a building or room —tall, short, weak, strong, child or adult, able-bodied or not - experiences equal functionality, comfort, accessibility, and safety. This approach creates open, bright, uncluttered rooms, and encourages simple, intuitive design with modern flair. ARC links to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provide construction details. You may have discovered the cmhc.ca site yourself, but would you know to go there and search out "Accessible Housing by Design"?
b>How much time could a curated site save you? How much inspiration is waiting for you in these accumulations of clever practicality and insight?
Do you wonder what you’re missing out on because you don’t know the key words? For instance, do you know that October 5, 2012 is the deadline for the Small Project Component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which provides grants of up to C$50,000? The Fund supports activities that improve the built environment by creating or enhancing accessibility, including results-oriented projects to:
- Construct, renovate, or retrofit buildings
- Modify vehicles for community use
- Enhance accessibility of information and communication technologies.
This Fund and others may be the financial spark necessary to increase the variety of housing available in your community. Affordable housing does not just spring up spontaneously, but requires a community-strong team effort, and lots of imagination.
Homeless & At-Risk Veterans
The federal government announced a new pilot project this month that is shocking for several reasons.
The "Transitional Housing and Supports for Homeless Veterans" pilot project brings Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) together to take approximately C$1.9 million from the existing Homelessness Partnering Strategy and deliver it to 4 4 existing projects in large cities.
A Canadian Press article reporting on this announcement stated "the office of the veterans ombudsman began sounding the alarm over homelessness within the ranks of Canada's veterans in 2008." In June, The Royal Canadian Legion announced funding of C$500,000 "for a campaign called Leave the Streets Behind, which will help provide immediate assistance for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces."
Veterans deserve the support as does everyone facing homelessness in urban settings and rural. In typical "smoke and mirrors" style, this government "too little too late" move seems very light on genuine commitment.
- That any veteran could become homeless, or be at risk for it ever.
- That the feds are shuffling "homeless" money, not increasing funding to prevent homelessness which is steadily reaching epidemic proportions.
- That HRSDC, VAC, and any related agencies and departments that could have prevented this homelessness have not been taken to task for this shocking breach of their mandates, programs, and management.
- That the fed’s disingenuous media release media release makes the fed sound great for pitching in to help.
- That this is a "pilot project," not an immediate call to arms or a genuine commitment that locates veterans in need, and solves this housing crisis.
Jody Ciufo, Executive Director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association added a significant fact to his statement in the release concerning "the pervasiveness of homelessness": "Support for all population groups experiencing homelessness is funded by the federal government through the existing Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). HPS has provided significant funding to 61 communities... This important program has had demonstrated success in reducing homelessness, but it is set to expire on March 31, 2014. We are optimistic that the support for addressing homelessness shown by the federal government’s commitment to assist homeless veterans will also be reflected in the speedy renewal of HPS... Having confirmed HPS funding will allow communities to focus on helping homeless individuals and families, rather than worry about how and when the money will flow."
What will veterans be remembering on November 11, 2012? Would you and the housed veterans in your community like to give the government a hand to locate those in need before winter hits?
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