Voice Your Support for the End and Prevention of Homelessness in Canada

It’s REALTORS Care® Week 2020—a time to celebrate the REALTOR® community’s long-standing commitment to volunteer service and an opportunity to reflect on how REALTORS® from coast to coast can make an even greater collective impact together.

The first-ever national REALTORS Care® Week took place last year. REALTORS®, boards and associations led more than 40 volunteer projects in support of housing and shelter-related charities across the country. REALTORS® served meals at local shelters, participated in a Habitat for Humanity build, gave a facelift to a newcomers centre, and more.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many of the types of hands-on activities we saw in 2019 are simply not possible this year. The good news is there are still ways to give back and help others from a safe distance. We have seen great examples led by REALTORS® throughout the pandemic. Earlier this year, CREA’s REALTORS Care® Committee pivoted our REALTORS Care® Week strategy to take a similar approach for 2020.

With REALTORS Care® Week 2020, CREA is pleased to be offering the REALTOR® community virtual learning and advocacy opportunities on the topic of homelessness, which has emerged as an urgent concern in the face of the pandemic and something that the majority of Canadians agree needs to end. We’re also proud to be shining a spotlight on how real estate boards and associations are stepping up on behalf of their members and safely supporting homelessness-related organizations in their local communities throughout the week.

More than 1,000 REALTORS® from communities across Canada came together to attend our REALTORS Care® Week Virtual Conference on Homelessness on Tuesday. (If you missed the conference, you’ll have a chance to catch up when the recording is made available by the end of the week.)

Conference attendees listened to insights and powerful stories from leaders in this field, including best-selling author, lived expert and Indigenous homelessness scholar Jesse Thistle; Michael Braithwaite, CEO of Blue Door; Terrilee Kelford, Co-Chair of the National Alliance to End Rural Remote Homelessness; Al Wiebe, Co-Chair of the Canadian Lived Experience Leadership Network; and Tim Richter, CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. Key takeaways from the conference include that homelessness affects communities big and small; it can be hidden; it can happen to anyone; and it is a solvable problem that can be eliminated and prevented in our country with the right policies, investments and leadership.

We hope REALTORS® who attended the conference (and watch the replay) are inspired to raise awareness about the issue by having meaningful conversations about what they’ve learned with their friends, family and networks.

What can the REALTOR® community do at the national level to help move the needle on efforts to end and prevent homelessness? As a next step, CREA’s Government Relations team has drafted a letter to the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, the Minister for Families, Children and Social Development. (He is also the lead minister responsible for the National Housing Strategy.) Our letter outlines the REALTOR® community’s REALTORS Care® Week 2020 activities and voices support for the federal government’s recent commitments to end chronic homelessness and increase affordable housing capacity as well as the newly-launched Rapid Housing Initiative.

In addition, our letter reiterates CREA’s pre-budget recommendations that relate to conversion projects leveraging private sector developers’ resources and expertise while promoting partnerships with community housing providers.

With our letter to Minister Hussen, CREA aims to show the REALTOR® community is committed to continuing to use our collective voice in support of the creation of more safe and affordable homes across the housing spectrum, simultaneously helping the most vulnerable populations and allowing more Canadians to gain stability and opportunity through homeownership.

REALTORS® can preview the letter at www.REALTORSCare.ca/TakeAction. From there, you can add your name as a signatory by filling out a simple online form.

Review and Sign Our Letter to Minister Hussen

The more signatures we gather from the REALTOR® community, the stronger our message will be and the greater the impact it will have. Thank you in advance for adding your voice to this important conversation.

Sarah Thirnbeck, Associate Director, Strategic Impact, oversees CREA's national REALTORS Care® program, which aims to celebrate the amazing charitable achievements of REALTORS® across Canada and further foster a spirit of giving in our industry. She also oversees CREA's efforts to support local and provincial Young Professionals Networks across the country as well as new initiatives dedicated to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion on CREA's Board of Directors and committees. Sarah recently earned a Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto to complement her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications.

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