The National Right to Housing Network’s Steering Committee and staff is comprised of national and international leaders on the right to housing, including persons with lived experience. They are responsible for overall coordination of the Network’s efforts. This includes strategy development, engagement of coalition members, lobbying efforts, relationship-building with federal government stakeholders, and financial oversight.
Anita Khanna works as the National Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for United Way Centraide Canada. Prior to this role, she was the national coordinator of Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty in Canada and Director of Social Action and Community Building at Family Service Toronto. Deeply committed to social justice and equity, Anita has worked to make services and civic participation accessible to often marginalized community members, serving on the board of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, as Executive Director of Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), as City-Wide Organizer at Social Planning Toronto and as a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Community Advisory Group. Anita’s work and volunteer experience spans housing, anti-violence, immigrant, queer/trans, anti-racist, feminist and youth advocacy. Anita holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto and lives in Ottawa with her partner and their child.
DJ Larkin currently lives on the lands of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations in what is known as Victoria, B.C. DJ represents Indigenous governments, both elected and hereditary, in litigation regarding rights, land, and resource management. DJ previously worked for several years at the Pivot Legal Society where they represented people who are marginally housed or lacked housing in defending their constitutional, human, and tenancy rights. DJ has successfully worked with communities of people experiencing homelessness to defend their constitutional rights and to resist displacement, violence, and criminalization. In 2017-2018 DJ co-investigated and co-authored an in-depth report on systemic exclusion and marginalization of people living at the intersection of poverty, housing insecurity, and criminalized substance use aimed at creating systemic legislative and policy reform. DJ is committed to centering the expertise of people with lived experience of homelessness and, as a lawyer, is committed to finding ways to increase access to justice for people who have been historically marginalized within Canada’s colonial legal system.
Debbie has worked tirelessly since 1995 on eliminating poverty in Saskatchewan, as well as in Canada. She spent many years as an advocate, activist and researcher on social issues, such as housing, homelessness, women’s issues and poverty. Including eight years on the Canada without Poverty board and recently co-founded the Lived Experience Advisory Council Canada, who developed the “Seven Principals of Inclusion”. When the National Housing Strategy was announced Debbie started working with Emily Paradis and others to ensure that this strategy was human rights based, Debbie continues to remain a part of this work.
After 20 years of raising her children Debbie enrolled in University graduating in 1998 with both her certificate and bachelor Degree in Indian Social Work.
Over the last 7 years Debbie worked at Mumford House, a homeless shelter for women and children, she left this full time position to work for the Lighthouse Supported Living Inc, as a Housing Locator and shortly after moving to a Rapid Rehousing Case Manager with the Housing First program.
Debbie’s strength for this work came from her own lived experiences. There is no better motivator then frustration and anger. Debbie learned how to take her experience, frustrations, anger, and knowledge and turn them into powerful tools for social change. Debbie is also the proud mom of 5 grown children and grandma to 16 ranging in age from 9 months to 22 years old.
Elizabeth McIsaac is the president of Maytree, a private Canadian charitable foundation focused on poverty and human rights in Canada. A committed leader in the non-profit sector, she also has extensive experience in research, teaching and working in direct service provision. Elizabeth has been instrumental in developing initiatives such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) where she served as Executive Director from 2007 to 2012. Following TRIEC, Elizabeth established and led Mowat NFP (Not-for-Profit Policy) at the Mowat Centre, Mowat NFP, a research hub focused on public policy options for strengthening the non-profit sector. She currently chairs the newly formed Network of Centres of Excellence, Making the Shift, a Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab. Elizabeth holds an MA in Sociology in Education from the University of Toronto – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
Emily Paradis has been an activist, researcher, advocate and front-line service provider on issues of housing and homelessness for 30 years. Her scholarship and practice aim to support marginalized communities in claiming spaces and rights in the city. She is a Maytree fellow, a sessional instructor in the Urban Studies Program of Innis College at University of Toronto, a member of the Right to Housing Coalition and Right to Housing Toronto, and has authored more than 30 publications on issues of housing, homelessness, and human rights. Emily is of white settler ancestry, grew up outside Montréal on Haudenosaunee territory, and now lives with her wife and young adult children in Treaty 13 territory, the Bloor-Dufferin neighbourhood of Toronto. Having never experienced homelessness, she relies on the insight generously shared by lived experts, including friends and allies in the Lived Experience Advisory Council and FORWARD.
Bruce is the Director of the Social Rights Advocacy Centre, a Maytree fellow and was a Commissioner on the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 2016-2019. He was a human rights consultant for the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights providing research and drafting assistance for UN Reports from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing from 2014 – 2020. He co-directed a major SSHRC collaborative research project on social rights in Canada from 2008 – 2018. Bruce has co-edited three books on social rights and published more than 40 articles and book chapters including several on rights-based housing and anti-poverty strategies. He has led important reforms within the UN system for access to justice for social rights and has co-ordinated test case litigation on housing and poverty issues in Canada and internationally, including fourteen interventions by the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues at the Supreme Court of Canada. He spearheaded collaborative work by civil society organizations and legal experts to develop draft National Housing Strategy legislation, much of which was incorporated into the National Housing Strategy Act.
Tim Richter is the Founder, President & CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). The CAEH leads a national movement of individuals, organizations and communities working together to end homelessness in Canada. Under his leadership, the CAEH has: helped shape federal, provincial and local homelessness action and policy including the national implementation of Housing First, the National Housing Strategy and Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy; hosted seven annual National Conferences on Ending Homelessness; co-authored three State of Homelessness in Canada reports in 2013, 2014 and 2016; launched a national Training and Technical Assistance program as a mission based, non-profit training and technical assistance program; and, launched Built for Zero Canada – a national change movement helping a core group of leading communities end chronic homelessness and veteran homelessness – a first step on the path to eliminating all homelessness in Canada. Prior to founding the CAEH, Tim was President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.
Tim Ross is the Executive Director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. CHF Canada is a national membership association of housing co-operatives, representing over one thousand members, and home to over a quarter of a million people.
Tim is a nationally recognized non-profit, community, and co-operative housing policy advocate. Through his work with the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, he’s forged partnerships across the housing spectrum, and has been a leading voice towards the creation of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy. He is also founding President of the Community Housing Transformation Centre, a pan-Canadian initiative designed to drive transformation, sustainability and growth in the non-profit and co-operative housing sector.
Prior to moving to Ottawa, he served as the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association, and previously led the Community Action Group on Homelessness in Fredericton.
Michèle Biss is the Project Manager of the National Right to Housing Network, an Allied Network housed at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). As an expert in economic and social rights, she has presented at several United Nations treaty body reviews and at Canadian parliamentary committees on issues related to poverty. Prior to her work at the CAEH, Michèle was the Policy Director and Human Rights Lawyer at Canada Without Poverty. She has extensive professional experience working for marginalized groups, particularly women, persons with disabilities, newcomers, and Indigenous persons through casework, research, and community legal education. She is a human rights lawyer and was called to the Ontario bar in 2014.