Lack of affordable housing is a huge issue in the greater Toronto area of Ontario. Three churches in central Etobicoke, a western suburb of Toronto, joined together to try to address this issue. They were assisted by a grant from the Christian Reformed Church.
Fellowship CRC, Bloordale United Church, and St. Philip’s Lutheran Church in Etobicoke are part of a group of 10 churches known as the Central Etobicoke ministerial. This ministerial does pulpit exchanges in January, has built “little free libraries,” and supports a local food bank.
When the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee of the Christian Reformed Church in North America announced that it would provide $500 grants to Canadian churches that were interested in doing more ecumenical activities with churches in their area, Fellowship CRC applied. Together with Bloordale and St. Philips, they used the grant to host the Etobicoke Affordable Housing Forum on Oct. 29, 2018.
The forum included Jeff Neven, a CRC member who is now executive director of Indwell, an affordable housing organization in nearby Hamilton, Ont. It also included Richard Antonio, chair of the Peel Poverty Action Group, and Sean Gadon, director of the City of Toronto Affordable Housing Office.
“The audience was a small but diverse group of community people who are passionate about the need for housing, particularly for the most vulnerable,” said Mark Broadus, ministry director at Fellowship CRC.
Neven told this assembled group about a new affordable housing development being built 10 kilometers away from Etobicoke in southeast Mississauga. Antonio used stories to explain the real-life burden of those in the region who are precariously housed. And Gadon explained Toronto’s strategy for affordable housing, including some positive examples that don’t often make the news.
“One outcome of the meeting was an opportunity for the three church leaders to meet with the local Member of Provincial Parliament, Kinga Surma,” said Broadus. “We were able to tell MPP Surma about the huge housing need in her riding, along with other poverty-related concerns.”
Other Canadian churches who are interested in receiving an ecumenical grant are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.