The climate is changing all around us. From weather, to politics, to social issues, change is everywhere.

I’ve been in the not-for-profit sector for the past eight years and throughout my time, I’ve noticed how the climate of human services has also changed. In my first job out of college I was working as a community developer and repeatedly noticed that though Niagara had many organization that were functioning independently as “silos”, there was a growing desire to work together and collaborate to better meet the needs of Niagara. Change was happening.

In September of 2016, I re-entered the community development field as the Niagara Prosperity Initiative Convener. I noticed that organizations were now focused on working together, networks were established, collaborations were growing and working groups were creating positive change in Niagara.

Last fall I met with a handful of housing coaches for a roundtable discussion. We brainstormed about what is working well within the sector, and where there are needs and gaps. It became clear that great collaborative work is being done within Niagara’s not-for-profit sector; the Shared Learning Local Hubs are established in 5 areas of Niagara, larger networks like the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network are thriving and the work of A Home For All Task Force is evolving. However, a gap still exists for increasing connections and lines of communication among frontline housing staff. Frontline workers are consulted on occasion, but there isn’t a regular opportunity for input from this group on housing specific issues as a way to facilitate collaboration, share best practices and advocate for change in the housing environment in Niagara.

To address this gap, and complement the other groups addressing pieces of Niagara’s housing puzzle, the Frontline Housing Support Network is being formed. Made up of frontline staff from across the Region, the network is intended to be an on-going consultation team that can address current gaps in efforts and provide input when changes are proposed and when management is looking for feedback. This group welcomes any frontline staff wanting to work towards positive change in the housing environment in Niagara.

The Frontline Housing Support network is in development and is welcoming your input and engagement. Our next working meeting is Thursday, February 22nd at 10:00 a.m. at the Housing Help Centre in St. Catharines. The focus of the meeting will be on solidifying our purpose, structure and timeline. Get in on the ground level and help create change at the frontline.

If you have any questions about the Frontline Housing Support Network, please contact me directly.

Suzanne Veenstra,
Convener, Niagara Prosperity Initiative


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