A group of Queen’s medical students are celebrating as the City of Kingston embraces their calls for more inclusionary housing and homelessness policy development.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Council unanimously passed a motion calling for the meaningful and compensated inclusion of people who have experienced homelessness on relevant municipal committees, working groups, and task forces.
The motion calls for city staff to present a report and recommendations that identify how the City of Kingston can improve the meaningful participation of people who are, or have been, precariously housed and suggestions of compensation for such participation. The report will also outline how the City can prioritize the participation of women and Indigenous people, as these demographics are overrepresented among the City’s homeless population.
The call for the meaningful participation of precariously housed people is a result of advocacy from the Queen’s Municipal Day of Action, a group of medical students from Queen’s University who are looking to address the social causes of medical issues through policy changes.
Beginning in April, the group formulated three asks of the municipal government that address housing and homelessness policy in Kingston. Tuesday’s meeting marks the successful implementation of all three asks.
The first ask is the inclusion of a link to the Home Standards Project on the City of Kingston website to inform tenants of their rights. The second is for the City of Kingston to direct staff to develop recommendations on the meaningful inclusion of people with lived experience in housing and homelessness policy. Finally, the third ask calls for the prioritization of the inclusion of women and Indigenous people in this process.
“Our asks—all of them, everything we kind of dreamed of happening—happened. And we see some real progress,” said Angie Salomon, a member of Queen’s Municipal Day of Action, in an interview with the Whig-Standard.
While the motion was passed unanimously and was widely well-received by Councilors, there was some concern regarding compensating participation.
“There was a little bit of discussion about offering compensation potentially attracting individuals who are more interested in receiving compensation than actually contributing to the working group,” Ishita Aggarwal said in an interview with the Whig-Standard.
While both Aggarwal and Salomon acknowledge the logic of this concern, they highlight the importance of ensuring that participation in municipal processes is equitable.
“This is an issue of equity, and the definition of equity is that some people have different advantages and disadvantages going into a situation. Someone giving up time at their minimum wage job, especially someone working 12 hours a day at three jobs, maybe they should be compensated that hourly wage that they would be making at work,” Salomon explained.
The nature of compensation for participation is one of the main areas that will be investigated in City staff’s report to Council, and Salomon and Aggarwal hope that the Municipal Day of Action team can remain involved in the process.
“I think it would be really good for us to continue on, and to help shape what those recommendations look like. Because, it could very well be that the recommendations are ‘don’t do this’ and that’s not what we want either. We want to help them find the evidence and make things as easy as possible,” Salomon said.
Aggarwal echoed these sentiments, explaining that the team is committed to these initiatives and want to utilize their contacts to help see them through.
“We have offered to help connect council to some of the connections we’ve made over the past eight months, which I think is the most meaningful contribution we can make,” she said.
While the team is looking to help the City draw examples and evidence from other municipalities, Salomon hopes that Kingston can go beyond the examples of housing and homelessness policy that exist already.
“I don’t think Kingston’s response for this, or for any other issue, should be to consider Toronto, or Hamilton, or London, or any municipality as the best practice,” she said. “I think we should be looking to improve on those practices, and I think Kingston being a smaller community that has a lot of grassroots initiatives and a relatively progressive City Council, why not try things other places haven’t? There might be a really good payout that could set a precedent for other regions to do the same.”
The team is offering the City their support through the process as City staff are due to report back to Council with their report in the fall.
Original Article: https://www.thewhig.com/news/queens-medical-students-call-for-report-to-include-precariously-housed-in-city-processes