50 Years of Advocacy

By on Jun 10, 2018 in News

The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association / l’Association Canadienne d’Habitation et de Renovatoin Urbaine (CHRA/ACHRU), held its 50th National Congress on Housing and Homelessness in Ottawa, Ontario from May 24 to 27, 2018. Yardi was proud to be a Congress Partner on this milestone year for the event.

Peter Altobelli, Yardi vice president and general manager, spoke at the opening session and at the Yardi Awards Luncheon. Altobelli highlighted Yardi’s 20-year relationship with CHRA and focused on the importance of collaboration in the social housing industry.

“At Yardi Canada, we have always been deeply connected with initiatives to help build our community and our industry. It is with the fruit of our growth that we further fuel the industry by supporting organizations such as CHRA / ACHRU that strive to bring a voice to affordable housing providers on a national level,” Altobelli said.

Samyukta Jaishankar, team lead for Yardi’s Canadian marketing efforts, caught up with Jeff Morrison, executive director of CHRA, during the event. During their conversation, Jeff provided a behind the scenes look at how the 50th anniversary of the congress came together, what the internal goals were for the conference and how attendees would have the ability to shape the future with CHRA.

“This year the challenge was that we had to do two competing things: reminisce and celebrate our evolution and success as an organization, as well as look forward to see what we can do with the future,” Morrison said.

As part of the retrospective portion of the event, CHRA presented a video production which featured a historic look at the organization. Originating in 1968 as an offshoot of a National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials chapter from upstate New York, CHRA/ACHRU has since grown to represent Canadian social housing providers nationally.

During the video presentation, Altobelli described how CHRA has helped shape the national conversation on social housing. “CHRA was able to bring together everyone in Canada who provide services for social housing – to give them a single voice, a single direction to help all of those in need, sharing information and knowledge across the provinces. We see the benefits (of the organization) for this country now and will still see it far into the future,” Altobelli said.

Morrison reflected on other opportunities at this year’s congress. “Advocacy for public policy is dependent on facts and strategic thinking. We want to inform our delegates so they can make good advocacy choices, but we also want them to share with us their views. Policy conversations go both ways,” Morrison said.

Other highlights of the congress included an address by Jean Yves Duclous, the Ontario deputy minster of families, children and social development, as well as a keynote speaker, Andre Picard, one of Canada’s best-known health and social policy writers and commentators. “Andre framed the issues perfectly. His presentation balanced numbers and analytics with real-life, human interest stories. Those stories are really what help keep the social housing sector strong,” Jaishankar said.

Feedback from congress attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Some noted it was the best congress ever. “This was a team effort by our host committee team and our partner organizations, including Yardi. This congress sets a tremendous stage for our delegates to gain knowledge, share ideas and collectively guide the future of CHRA and larger social housing industry. Openness and flexibility to change aren’t easily gained, this congress is a way to build trust and momentum. We look forward to everything we’ll accomplish over the next 50 years,” Morrison said.