Advocacy

The OSPN Coordinating Committee recognizes its role in advocacy. We welcome opportunities to advance LGBTQ2+ and seniors’ issues. We have developed respectful working relationships with allies who share our values. Our two most important partnerships continue to be Centretown Community Health Centre and The Good Companions Seniors Centre. With these partners, we advocated for on-going funding for an LGBTQ2+ Seniors Program Coordinator to be located at The Good Companions – and got it. What a victory!

Over the years, OSPN has been involved in many advocacy efforts. In particular, issues of affordable housing, long term care, and end of life care. Our mission statement reflects our desire to be part of a strong, connected, visible and supportive senior queer community. This includes working with others to build and maintain appropriate services and supports.

OSPN celebrates the LGBTQ2+ human rights “wins” of recent years. It took a lot of hard work and advocacy of many individuals and community groups. Historical discrimination and trauma have been part of the lived experience of many LGBTQ2+ seniors. As we develop policies and programming for our community, we will remain mindful of all identities that have been marginalized.

The Future of Advocacy Within the OSPN Community

The Coordinating Committee will continue to build meaningful partnerships to work on issues that matter to our community.

OSPN can also serve as an incubator for advancing LGBTQ2+ issues. Members of the community can identify issues they are interested in or concerned about. They can bring their skills and time and energy to come together to discuss, problem solve and support one another. If members show interest in new projects, we are hopeful that in-person programming can grow.

[Re] Building Community Panel Discussion, Aug 22, 2019

NOTE: The audio during the filming of the discussion was not captured well for about the first half-hour of the video, though the dialogue lost was mostly limited to the opening comments and introductions.

Housing: Introduction

As we age, the issue of how and where we will live becomes increasingly important. Many factors all contribute to these decisions. The main factors are affordability and meeting our needs. Of those needs there is quite a long list. Some of them are within our control and others are not.

Our health is one of those that has a major influence on our housing needs. Some of us are of sound mind and body so that we remain active as we age. Others do not fare as well either physically, mentally or both.

Several years ago, in conjunction with Ipsos-Reid, OSPN did a housing survey. Several facts stood out in that survey that helped to set the direction for OSPN about housing. Not surprising, most of the respondents wanted to remain in their own home as long as possible and wanted to avoid having to go into long term care (LTC) or a retirement home. The other surprising finding was that only 12% wanted a living environment that was exclusively LGBTQ2+. Among the other survey results of interest related to income. There was a higher percentage than the general population in a lower income category AND a higher percentage in a higher income category.

These findings were all pre-COVID. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on ageing and housing for the LGBTQ2+ community. Not surprisingly, the desire to age in place has only intensified. Also escalated is the fear of ending up in a LTC facility where there were so many losses of life and devastating periods of isolation.

OSPN is very much concerned about housing for the LGBTQ2+community. But, as a volunteer group, OSPN has limited human and financial resources to address the situation.

That doesn’t mean that nothing has been done to address our housing issues. OSPN recognized that staying in one’s home for as long as possible was a priority for many. I like to refer to this as ageing at home rather than ageing in place. OSPN first compiled a list of resources to allow people to remain in their homes as long as possible. This can be found on our Community Directory page.

We also realized that the majority of our members had a preference to be a part of the larger community so this is where our focus should be, not in trying to create LGBTQ2+ exclusive housing.

These efforts have taken several forms, including connecting with developers, groups and organizations that either had exiting housing or were creating new housing. Also, we have educated existing housing providers on how to be inclusive in their policies and procedures, and exploring new ideas in housing and partnering with other like-minded housing providers.

Housing: Aging at Home

Ageing at Home

Home Renovations and Modifications

Suitable housing is essential for the safety and well-being of older adults. The majority of older adults prefer to age in place – in their familiar neighbourhood. For many, this is workable without more supports. It often means that certain physical changes are needed to the home to do this.

The changes can be simple and inexpensive. Things such as installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing throw rugs, moving items to lower shelves in the kitchen are easy to do. They may also involve more extensive changes like adding a ramp to the entrance or a stair lift.

One of the first things you can do is make sure your house, apartment or townhouse is set up to be a safe and easy place for you to get around. Do a home safety check with a friend or family member to determine what changes are needed for you to live comfortably at home. Once you have decided on what has to be done, then make the changes with a trusted professional. if you are unsure where to go for help, there are options in OSPN’s resources list. Word of mouth and trusting someone who has done good work for friends or family is important. Sometimes there are some government assistance programs available to help defray the costs.

Home Care Services

Twenty-five percent of older adults need help with one or more activities of daily living. This could include housework, snow clearing, meal preparation, and care for our health conditions. Unfortunately, many of us must manage alone, if we do not have the resources to access appropriate support. Doctors can recommend home care service but often not enough care is available or it is time-limited.

Whether it’s a little help for daily tasks or round-the-clock care, there are services available. However, finding an LGBTQ2+ friendly service may not be so easy. Check out the OSPN Community Directory for this type of help.

Housing: Aging with Others

Ageing with Others

Homeowners who live on low incomes may have difficulties paying the rising utility, maintenance, and renovation costs. They may consider sharing their home or finding a living arrangement with others to share the costs. Here are some options to consider.

HYGGE Homesharing

Hygge (hue-gah), was started by a local person who saw a need to match the personality and needs of homeowners who needs support with LGBTQ2+ home seekers, who have housing needs. After extensive work to set up the ground rules, including interviewing processes and matching criteria, the first pairing happened in November of 2019. There was a lot of interest and need from younger people looking for affordable and safe accommodations but there was a lack of older people willing to share their homes. A Board was recruited to provide guidance to the Executive Director of Hygge and to promote the concept. The ED had a full-time job and they were operating this initiative as a sideline. Their full-time job became much more intense and less time was available for them to devote to Hygge. Then COVID hit which halted matchings. At the present time, Hygge is in a holding pattern until a new person can be found to replace the founder and existing ED. Hopefully, this will get Hygge back on track. The groundwork of documentation, matching criteria are in place; it just needs someone with the time and the enthusiasm on a volunteer basis to take the reins. The need is there for this type of shared housing which benefits both seniors and younger LGBTQ2+ people. Anyone who might be interested would be welcome to step forward.

Abbeyfield Housing

Abbeyfield’s core mandate is to provide affordable accommodation and companionship for elders within their own local community. This is achieved by converting and maintaining houses in which, typically, a small group of residents live together with a house manager. Rooms are private but housekeeping and meals are provided by a small staff in the common living space. Abbeyfield Ottawa is located on Parkdale Ave. near Wellington.

While Abbeyfield Ottawa has no medical staff, support from the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), both personal and homemaking, may allow frail seniors to stay here, depending on their condition. The staff at Abbeyfield Ottawa provide nutritious meals, security, and stability, and maintain a comfortable and harmonious atmosphere. The House is wheelchair and walker accessible, with an elevator/lift, handrails in the hallways, and grab rails in each private bathroom. Residents bring their own furnishings to create unique private spaces within Abbeyfield Ottawa.

The monthly rate for a suite at Abbeyfield Ottawa is affordable and includes parking, high speed WiFi, and the use of laundry facilities. Residents are responsible for telephone and cable services. Abbeyfield Ottawa currently charges $2,163 monthly which is significantly lower than the price of for-profit retirement establishments in the area.

Homes for Queers Ottawa-Gatineau Facebook Page

This is a group for all the queer and two-spirit folx of Ottawa-Gatineau to help you find lovely housemates and safe happy homes. Post an ad on the wall/discussion board for your spare room, or to find people to start a new house share.

Co-housing, Concord Cohousing

Cohousing is “an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space”, formed through an egalitarian, participatory process with an eye to neighborhood design.

Their vision is for a multi-generational, sustainable low rise building of fourteen to thirty units of different sizes with a common area of 1500 to 2900 square feet on a site near public transit, grocery, and parks. To find out more contact info@concordecohousing.ca.

Co-ownership Housing

Co-ownership housing is a shared living arrangement where two or more people own and live in a home together. Many may refer to this as the “Golden Girls” living arrangement. Co-owners may share living spaces like kitchens and living rooms, or the home may be divided into separate units. OSPN is happy to connect you with others who are interested in creating a co-living arrangement.

Housing: Future Housing Options

Future Housing Options

OSPN has had a long-standing relationship with The Good Companions Centre. For many years we have held our Vintage Queers dance there. Recently Good Companions received funding from the City of Ottawa to hire an LGBTQ2+ Program Coordinator. This funding is for a 5-year period and OSPN is partnering with Good Companions to offer a range of programming with the coordinator.

Working with Developers Team Central

The call for proposals from the National Capital Commission (NCC) to develop land right across from the existing Good Companion Centre created a lot of interest. The land is adjacent to the site of the proposed new Ottawa Public Library and the Pimisi LRT station. A consortium led by Trinity Development Group, along with their local partners Hobin Architecture as design lead, Ottawa Community Housing as owner and operator of affordable housing, and the Good Companions as the owner and operator of seniors’ services put forward one of three proposals. The Team Central proposal included a minimum of 180 affordable units out of the expected 600 total homes on the lot. These roughly 30 per cent of the total units would have been priced at 80 per cent of market rents for the ensuing 25 years. In addition to a new Good Companions Centre, some of that housing would have been earmarked for seniors of which a portion would include LGBTQ2+ seniors. Unfortunately, at the announcement in January of 2022 Team Central was not the winning bid.

OSPN will continue to raise the need for affordable, safe and welcoming housing options for queer seniors wherever possible.

NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community)

A NORC is a geographic designation for an area such as a rental or condo building or neighbourhood block where older adults live. High density is defined as 30-60% of older adults. NORC buildings have become home to many seniors for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are related to mobility, not wanting or being able to maintain a single-family home, economic pressures, or a desire to be closer to amenities.

A NORC-SSP includes a supportive service program (SSP), such as health, social and recreational activities. Services may include government – funded health and home care workers and private programs and services that you pay for. Fees can be calculated on a sliding scale, based on income. Presently, there is an initiative to establish a NORC in Ottawa with the help of the Ottawa Council on Ageing. It is in a building that houses at least a few members of the LGBTQ2+ community. Stay tuned for progress.

The monthly rate for a suite at Abbeyfield Ottawa is affordable and includes parking, high speed WiFi, and the use of laundry facilities. Residents are responsible for telephone and cable services. Abbeyfield Ottawa currently charges $2,163 monthly which is significantly lower than the price of for-profit retirement establishments in the area.

Housing: Retirement Homes and Long-Term Care

Retirement Homes and Long-Term Care

OSPN Education Services

Although training is not directly related to housing, a safe welcoming environment is. The Training Committee was established in 2008 and was one of the core committees of the Ottawa Senior Pride Network. A small group of LGBT seniors began offering LGBT Cultural Competency training to staff of agencies in seniors’ services. OSPN’s volunteer trainers organized and ran workshops and seminars for the staff and volunteers of senior-serving organizations. This included seniors’ centres, service agencies, palliative care services, residential care facilities, and homecare agencies.

COVID interrupted our training. During this time, OSPN revamped its approach to training to better reflect our current capacity. What has emerged from this review is a three-prong approach to Educational Services.

Types of services proposed in OSPN’s renewed program include: co-facilitated group sessions; presentations (Speakers’ Bureau); and, organizational advice.

OSPN will continue to raise the need for affordable, safe and welcoming housing options for queer seniors wherever possible.

Health and LTC Committee

We are all aware of the deplorable situation in many LTC homes, both private and public. Covid has shone a light on unacceptable standards and conditions. The government of Ontario put out a call for input as a part of their review of existing legislation on LTC homes. OSPN joined with other LGBTQ2+ senior groups across Ontario and prepared an extensive review on LTC. This was presented to the Government. You can find the submission here.

The monthly rate for a suite at Abbeyfield Ottawa is affordable and includes parking, high speed WiFi, and the use of laundry facilities. Residents are responsible for telephone and cable services. Abbeyfield Ottawa currently charges $2,163 monthly which is significantly lower than the price of for-profit retirement establishments in the area.

Tea and Toast

Thinking about moving to a Retirement Home? The retirement industry is very overwhelming for people to navigate. The Tea and Toast advisors walk you through the entire process. They are LGBTQ2+ aware and specialize in finding; independent living retirement homes, assisted living, retirement homes, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, retirement communities, Aging in Place communities, respite and convalescent care, long-term care navigation and nursing homes.

Housing: OSPN Initiatives and Resources

OSPN Initiatives and Resources

The OSPN – Housing Facebook Group

The goal of the Facebook group is to keep OSPN members informed of housing options for LGBTQ2+ seniors both locally and throughout the world. It provides a forum to discuss ideas, get inspired and join with others to explore housing options. If you want to create a community of tiny homes or create a “Golden Girls” home, for example, here you can recruit others to join you to make it happen. OSPN will do what we can to support your idea and to connect with others.

OSPN hosted a presentation on Housing at The Good Companions in cooperation with MAX Ottawa on November 27th 2021. It was called “When I Get Older… Where Will I Live?” If you missed it, open the accordion tab below for Long-term Care Supports and Resources, where you’ll see the link to the video.

OSPN members were featured in the documentary “Forget me Not” produced by Ottawa journalist Christopher Guly, exploring the issues that arise as the LGBTQ community in Ottawa ages. It is available on OUTtv. You have to subscribe to view it here.

OSPN Housing Committee

Despite the need of safe, affordable and affirming housing, interest in actively participating on the OSPN Housing Committee has dwindled. It is no longer actively looking for housing solutions.

If we can reinvigorate interest of active and involved people to address the issues of housing, we can reconvene. If you would like to get involved in the Housing Committee, contact George at georgeis@rogers.com

Housing: Affiliations and Connections

Affiliations and Connections

Keeping Connected

OSPN has developed connections with organizations and groups that provide housing or advocate for affordable housing in Ottawa. They include Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, Ottawa Community Housing, City of Ottawa, Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), Council on Ageing and community health centres. Through these connections OSPN advances the right to housing through advocacy, education, and empowerment. Everyone should have an adequate, accessible and affordable place to call home.

Council On Ageing Housing Committee offers a Smart Aging Core Program. This is a series of eight weekly workshops covering key topics facing seniors today. Each workshop is designed to provide information you need, before you need it. this can help you make smart decisions at key transition points in your life. Participants are expected to take whole series of workshops.

The most relevant one for this discussion is Workshop 6 – Exploring Housing Options which was delivered by an OSPN member. Participants consider where they might want to live 2, 5 or 10 years from now, the numerous factors that may influence their preferences and decisions and what options are currently available in Ottawa.

The Council on Ageing is developing two additional modules in the Smart Aging Program to address Home and Community Services presented by the Health Issues Committee. The Age-Friendly Housing Committee has taken the lead on developing the module on Home Renovations and Modifications.

Housing: Resources

Health and Long-term Care Supports and Resources

The LTC task team plans to hold Zoom events to present and discuss one of the following resources each month. These will be open to all OSPN members. Join our OSPN mailing list for announcements on our next event. OSPN Education Services volunteers will also use these resources in their work.

Open Long-term Care Team Meeting, May 19, 2022

Open Long-term Care Team Meeting, Mar 17, 2022

Open Long-term Care Team Meeting, Feb 17, 2022

When I Get Older… Where Will I Live?, Nov 27, 2021

Open Long-term Care Team Meeting, Oct 28, 2021

Palliative Care with Hospice Care Ottawa, Mar 25, 2021

Do You Want to Know More About Long-term Care Homes?, Feb 23, 2021

Inviting Members to Get Involved

Our members come from a wide variety of work and personal experiences. There’s a lot of “know how” in our community. Over the years, people have asked for help to reach LGBTQ2+ seniors for their research or projects. When that happens, we send out an email and/or a note on Facebook to let members know. Part of our mission is to have our voices heard — it’s great when someone asks for input!

If you have an idea for a project that you think our members could help you with, send an email to the Coordinating Committee at ospn.rfao@gmail.com.