We put together our top concerns about the gaps and barriers to housing in Calgary, Alberta using a "Disability and 2LGBTQIA+" lens (persons with disabilities, families, and people who identify as transgendered). Our plan is to then share our experiences, ideas, and solutions with the federal housing advocate in August. We also summarized our ideas and more details are below the comic.
“Top 6 ideas for better housing in Calgary through a 2LGTBQSIA+ lens"
by Disability Action Hall, July 2023
1. Housing in all areas of Calgary
• Affordable housing zoned in all areas of the city, (not just in limited places).
• To prevent alienating people; help people to live in a community of their choice; Allow people to make their own decisions.
• Useful design is near frequent transit with disabled parking spaces near the home.
2. Housing accepts all animals
• People should be able to have animals if they can care for them.
• Housing that accepts all animals as we like living with animals to help us with our emotional and mental well-being to help us get out of bed.
3. The need
to understand and accept all diversity
• “Folks who are trans need safe spaces that are safe to live, “In my experience, they told me they could not have me as I was going through a transition instead of saying ‘Why don’t we move you into men’s housing?’ Please don’t alienate people based on their identity and culture.
• Housing options that are not gender segregated (As that is binary in terms of the way people think)”.
• Allow people to live where they want to live in the place, they want to live in… “As a trans man right now in a time, I would not be comfortable moving into a space with a bunch of guys”. Trust is critical and surrounding neighbours who understand what I am going through helps me feel safe and on common ground.
• There needs to be a lot more flexibility in housing eligibility and options; “I’ve seen senior couples get separated” and have limited options, or when a family is looking for housing are then split apart.
• “Living at a treatment center with women as a transman felt weird, as I felt like a guy living among a bunch of women. Having a sense of community and more opportunity for community support and natural support instead of just slapping labels on us”.
4. Accessible, safe, affordable designed homes
• “Some of the low-income housing doesn’t look like houses, it looks like square boxes; When building homes, they should look nice for people to live in, not a square box. People should have the right to live in a nice house or a nice apartment building, not just square cracker boxes”.
• Accessibility and housing, “I need a shower that I can roll a shower into, otherwise I have no shower. It sucks I can’t shower. We really hope to find a house cause my foster sis moved to Calgary and our needs are for a family, not just me”.
• We need more accessible, and affordable for low-income folks and queer folks.
• Affordable housing also needs to be safe. “Just because it's ‘low-income folks’ it does not mean we don't deserve to live in a clean, safe, comfortable environment”.
• Social housing needs enough funds to help to support the housing to keep it safe and in safe neighborhoods.
5. Housing Supports that build community co-created with people with a variety of disabilities
• “Living in supportive housing with trustworthy staff who don’t steal things from you”.
• When you have support workers coming into the space, design more available housing on how people live, versus around housing providers. It is always nice when the housing provider supports the building of community in the housing.
• People with disabilities should be involved in creating housing so it can be accessible to everyone.
6. All levels of Government work together to help coordinate housing gaps and barriers across the housing spectrum
• PDD does not help people get housing for people with disabilities; The Government needs to help buy their own houses.
• Be able to stay in the housing until we no longer wish to live there.
• The Government to raise people’s incomes so everyone can live where they want.
• All three levels of Government need to coordinate together for housing strategies. When governments don’t coordinate, then it’s left up to the agencies, yet every agency has different criteria and rules for social housing; it is confusing and a lot of work trying to understand, and people fall through the cracks.
• We need a provincial housing minister to work with the city and the federal government.
• The ‘Owen Hart Home Ownership Program’ and ‘Habitat for Humanity' help people buy their home; however people on social aid (like Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped AISH) aren't always eligible to be in the program as our income is too low. Help ensure people who wish to be homeowners on social aid programs qualify for home ownership and mortgages.