Joy Connelly has started a blog called Opening the Window, in which she explores ideas for social housing in Toronto. As someone who has worked in the field for the past 30 years, she knows its ins and outs, and has therefore started a conversation on how to make it viable for the next 30.
In last week’s thought-provoking post she wrote about the transformation of the south end of Liverpool, UK and suggested it is an inspiring example of neighbourhood organization amidst talk of cuts to Toronto Community Housing. She describes it as an area that was riddled with unemployment, high crime rates and was physically dilapidated. The solution that gave it new life, she writes, took the form of a management team called INclude – a group of agencies and public forces already in the neighbourhood who came together to multiply services.
One of the first things the team did was hire locals to do mundane, but important tasks such as picking up garbage, cleaning up graffiti, and maintaining sites throughout the area. The team also started youth programs to decrease crime rates, solicited private investors to the area, helped grocery chains such as Tesco negotiate the planning approval process, and organized computer training workshops. Connelly stresses that all of this was done using existing funds – more services for the same price. She argues that in debates on how to lower funding for Toronto Community Housing, Liverpool is an example of how the city should be asking itself “how can we multiply the value of the money we have?” rather than “what can we do without?”