Legal Champions Making Change in a Complex, Dynamic, and Increasingly Unequal World

This presentation offers critical insight on how to make a difference in society. Michael Shapcott, Director of Housing and Innovation Follow us on twitter @wellesleyWI
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  • 1. Legal champions making change in complex, dynamic, increasingly unequal world! ACLCO AGM - May 11, 2012Michael Shapcott; Director, Housing and Innovation; The Wellesley Institute
  • 2. Two things we know:1 We live in a complex, dynamic world
  • 3. Environment Culture Jobs Food Income ClothingRecreation Transit Health Childcare Medicine Inclusion Housing Not just one thing or Education another... but everything!
  • 4. Two things we know:1 We live in a complex, dynamic world 2 We live in an increasinglyunequal world
  • 5. qualityIne
  • 6. “After 20 years of continuous decline, both inequality and poverty rates have increased rapidly in the past 10 years, now reaching levels above the OECD average.” “In the last 10 years, the rich have been getting richer leaving both middle andpoorer income classes behind. The rich inCanada are particularly rich compared to their counterparts in other countries.” OECD (2008), Growing Unequal? : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries
  • 7. Selected policy recommendations for OECDcountries from Divided We Stand• Reforming tax and benefit policies is the most direct instrument for increasing redistributive effects. Large and persistent losses in low-income groups following recessions underline the importance of government transfers and well-conceived income-support policies.• The growing share of income going to top earners means that this group now has a greater capacity to pay taxes. In this context governments may re- examine the redistributive role of taxation to ensure that wealthier individuals contribute their fair share of the tax burden.
  • 8. d pr ivate uali ty an 95% ofIneq mar kets Cana dians hou sing each home s in p live i n out or r owne rivate rea sing rshipinc renta l mar kets /
  • 9. d pr ivate uali ty anIneq mar kets hou sing each out or r rea singinc Typical two-bedroom apt: $40,080 household income CMHCEntry level condominium:$54,900 household income RBC Economics, August 2011 50% of renter h/hs have annual income <$34,400 50% of owner h/hs have annual income <$67,000 CMHC
  • 10. Mosthousing needsinvisible
  • 11. Bad housing makes you sick! Homelessness: Increased morbidity Increased premature morality Contextual: Individual / neighbourhood deprivation networks / friends / crime Biological / physical: Chemicals, gases, pollutants Socio-economic: Design (accidents) / crowding Affordability / energyTransportation / income / jobs Mental health: Alarming rates... especially Clinical depression and anxiety Control / meaning Collective efficacy
  • 12. Good housing good for health! Physical and mental health: Better health outcomes / decreased health care utilization Environment / physical infrastructure: New housing, repairs, heating, noise, indoor + outdoor environmental issues, allergens, water + sanitation Community safety: Reduced recidivism among people leaving incarceration Affordability interventions: Income-based housing subsidies
  • 13. New tools required to better understand complex and dynamic social systems
  • 14. What can legal clinics do to tackle complex housing / social issues???1Identify andtake action onroot causes...
  • 15. TO affordable housing wait list 821385000# 08 8 e 20 si nc80000# 2 3% Up75000#70000# 63 79165000#60000# 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 December 2011: 82,138 households on wait list; 280 housed - 24 year wait
  • 16. Who are homeless-makers in your community?
  • 17. ‘Social spending in Canada relies more on public services (education, health, etc.) than on cash transfers, such as unemployment and family benefits.’ OECD, 2011Make the connections...
  • 18. Ongoing erosion of federal housing investments(Federal housing investments as a percentage of GDP) 1.20% 1.10% 1.00% 0.90% 0.80% 0.70% 0.60% 0.50% 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Follow the money...
  • 19. 2011 federal spending estimates Last year This year Change Assisted $1.722b $1.628b 5% cut housing On-reserve $215m $156m 27% cut Repair $674m $37m 94% cut AHI $452m $16m 97% cut Overall $3.131b $1.907b 39% cut ‘Scheduled termination’
  • 20. Looking ahead -more federal cuts
  • 21. Identify / create smart solutions... Be relentless...
  • 22. Leverage opportunities...
  • 23. What can legal clinics do to tackle complex housing / social issues??? 2Vigorously use rights-based approach
  • 24. A proudCanadiantradition John Peters Humphreys
  • 25. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Article 111. The States Parties to the present Covenantrecognize the right of everyone to an adequatestandard of living for himself and his family,including adequate food, clothing and housing, andto the continuous improvement of living conditions.The States Parties will take appropriate steps toensure the realization of this right, recognizing tothis effect the essential importance of internationalco-operation based on free consent.
  • 26. 31st October 1945.  MACKAY J.:—This is an application broughtby Drummond Wren... to have declared invalid a restrictivecovenant... namely, ‘Land not to be sold to Jews or persons ofobjectionable nationality.’... First and of profound significance is the recent San FranciscoCharter, to which Canada was a signatory, and which theDominion Parliament has now ratified. Under articles 1 and 55 ofthis Charter, Canada is pledged to promote ‘universal respect for,and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms forall without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.’...   An order will therefore go declaring that the restrictivecovenant attacked by the applicant is void and of no effect.
  • 27. Miloon Kothari, former UN Rapporteur on Right to Adequate Housing ‘Housing is a human right’
  • 28. UN Special Rapporteur, 2009 “Canada has a long and proud history of housing successes, and has been known around the world for its innovative housing solutions. The Special Rapporteur visited and received information about programmes, laws and policies that represent good practices... Canada can also rely on a tremendous range of academic and civil society resources.” !“There has been a significant erosion of housing rights over the past two decades. Canada’s successful social housing programme, which created more than half amillion homes starting in 1973, has been discontinued.
  • 29. ‘Naming and shaming’ at UN HRC
  • 30. www.wellesleyinstitute.comThank you!
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