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I started working in social housing 30 years ago with big ideas. Like my colleagues, I saw the potential for lively mixed-income neighbourhoods, good homes to raise families, and dignity for people who had spent years on the street. 

I’ve watched some of those dreams come true. But now, as I hit my mid-50s, I wonder, “What are the fresh ideas that will take Ontario’s social housing into the next 30 years?” How can we make the most of social housing’s resources —  $40 billion in assets, $4 billion in annual revenues and the homes of 634,000 people (that’s more people than Winnipeg!)? And what can we learn from others, and from our own past, to house the next generation?

I hope to throw open a conversation about social housing’s future, starting with a few ideas of my own. My focus is Toronto – the city I know best – but I hope these ideas can stimulate good thinking elsewhere.

I welcome contributions from anyone who has ideas to help social housing reach its full potential.

I am Joy Connelly. I started working in social housing 30 years ago doing street outreach at Dundas and Sherbourne. I have managed an east end co-op, developed new co-ops, managed communications for a provincial advocacy organization, and as a consultant, completed over 130 projects for federal, provincial, municipal and non-profit clients.


Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove is considered retired (but doesn’t feel the part). Her work as a supportive housing  manager, co-founder of an Out of the Cold program, teacher, researcher, wife and mother inform her present view of the world: benign re people, critical of our stupidities.