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Community Engagement Worker – Harm Reduction Beyond Substance Use: YWCA Elm Centre

Community Engagement Worker – Harm Reduction Beyond Substance Use: YWCA Elm Centre 

Please Quote JOB ID number ELM0010

YWCA Toronto Elm Centre includes 300 units of permanent housing for three different resident groups: 165 affordable rental units, 50 units for Indigenous women and their families (including 10 women-led families fleeing violence), and 85 units for women with mental health or concurrent mental health and substance use challenges. The Elm Community Engagement Workers will work in cooperation with the Jean Tweed Centre which will provide case management services. The Community Engagement Team will provide services to the entire residential community, with a focus on community capacity building and health outcomes. As part of permanent housing at the YWCA and in addition to housing stabilization and community integration, the program goals will include harm reduction, health promotion, and reduced use of emergency departments, reduced inpatient re-admissions and increased access to primary health care and acute mental health services.

The Community Engagement Worker – Harm Reduction Beyond Substance Use is responsible for leading the design and implementation of programming that promotes harm reduction principles and approaches that empowers tenant and tenant-led initiatives. The goal of the position is to create an inclusive community, encourage participation in the broader community, and develop effective harm reduction strategies to meet the emotional, practical and social support needs of the tenants and the community as a whole. The Community Engagement Worker – Harm Reduction Beyond Substance Use will work within the Community Engagement Program team and alongside the Jean Tweed case management team to ensure that community engagement activities support a positive and dynamic community environment with a focus on health outcomes.

Reporting to the Manager of Elm Housing Support Program, the Community Engagement Worker – Harm Reduction Beyond Substance Use’s responsibilities include:

  • Acts as specialist consultant to YWCA Manager, YWCA Elm support team, Jean Tweed Centre case managers and tenants in the area of innovative community engagement and capacity building with marginalized and mixed communities;
  • provide harm reduction strategies that will empower individuals as they address issues related to substance use, mental health, health and wellness and housing;
  • develops, implements and evaluates workshops, groups and individual supports that incorporate harm reduction strategies with an understanding of residents’ mental health, addictions, and woman abuse issues, with attention to the value of peer supports in the Indigenous, youth, and supportive housing sub-communities;
  • works with staff and participants to help residents build skills and leadership in developing and participating in community activities, including planning and mechanisms for tenant input;
  • works with women, children and youth to build individual and group leadership, including peer support;
  • creates programming specifically designed to build community capacity through the use of harm reduction framework that will give individuals and groups of residents the opportunity to develop and use harm reduction strategies in all aspects of their lives (health, relationships, independent life skills, housing, etc.);
  • uses Stages of Change with a focus on client centered goals that reduce harm and increase community engagement and cohesiveness;
  • works closely and collaboratively with Toronto’s Public Health (the WORKS) to coordinate support services for individuals, as well as training that will focus on best practices related to substance use and health promotion within housing;
  • designs and delivers programming specifically designed to build individual and community capacity through activities that promote the development and use of harm reduction principles in conflict resolution and mediation skills, including peer-led processes for addressing issues of concern to the community;
  • provides crisis prevention, intervention and counseling using harm reduction principles, for women and children to respond to crisis in ways that support individual and community well-being, including the use of the health systems appropriately;
  • uses harm reduction approaches to increase individual’s capacity for successful tenancy, their recovery goals and community engagement;
  • maintains a working knowledge of the Residential Tenancies Act, Social Housing Reform Act, and the Ontario Human Rights Code;
  • supports tenants in addressing legal notices related to lease infractions such as arrears, Rent Geared to Income (RGI) documentation and/or behavior issues;
  • attends and, when necessary, acts as a witness at the Landlord Tenant Board hearings as required;
  • other duties as required.

 You will have:

  • General knowledge of an academic or technical discipline normally acquired through the completion of an undergraduate degree in a social services or health field (examples: BSW/Social Work, Occupational Therapy, etc.);
  • 3 - 5 years experience working in a diverse, direct service setting with adults and families who experience impacts of poverty, homelessness/ under-housing, violence/trauma, mental health/addictions/ or concurrent disorders, and other sources of marginalization or oppression;
  • minimum of 3 years experience demonstrating clinical skills in engagement, assessment, counseling and group programming with an in-depth understanding of harm reduction, trauma, mental health and substance use;
  • demonstrated knowledge of and experience in providing support to women living with experiences of precarious housing, poverty, violence/trauma, mental health/concurrent addictions issues;
  • knowledge and understanding of harm reduction approaches as a holistic frame work that incorporates supportive housing, community development, advocacy and peer support;
  • Life Skills Certificate an asset;
  • valid food handler certificate an asset
  • arts-based or Social media skills an asset;
  • training and experience supporting peer-led initiatives and/or conflict resolution;
  • demonstrated ability to deliver programming that recognizes and values cultural identities (ethno-racial, LGBTQ, e.g.) and creates opportunities for strengthening community through sharing and building understanding and respect;
  • demonstrated experience in cultivating leadership and capacity within groups and developing dynamic and innovative programming;
  • supportive counseling and group-work approach that is flexible, strengths-based, de-escalates tension, and teaches conflict resolution;
  • demonstrated crisis intervention and conflict mediation skills, with ability to remain calm in crisis;
  • proven experience and strong skills in developing and facilitating group based programming using harm reduction principles and framework;
  • experience working with diverse individuals and groups and the ability to deliver culturally sensitive services with a harm reduction and anti-oppression frameworks;
  • working knowledge of the Residential Tenancies Act an asset;
  • strong knowledge and understanding of community resources;
  • proven experience working in a collaborative, complex service setting;
  • ability to work both independently and as part of a team in the planning and delivery of services;
  • ability to maintain a positive approach and a professional manner at all times;
  • familiarity with Windows and Excel programs;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • knowledge of a second language or culture an asset;

Core Competencies: The employee is expected to:

  • Engage in a self reflective and collaborative practice that is non-judgmental and compassionate and reflects the mission of YWCA Toronto;
  • incorporate principles of anti-oppression and equity in responding to the service needs of women and children and work toward removing systemic barriers to independence and wellbeing;
  • incorporate principles of harm reduction and trauma informed approaches in responding to the service needs of women and children; supporting individual achieve their goals within Elm’s housing community;
  • demonstrate respect, consideration and acceptance of the opinions of others while expressing her own expertise and effectively utilizing relevant resources and specialists;
  • consistently collaborate with team members, sharing ideas and differences openly;
  • be receptive to new ideas and adapt to change as necessary;
  • value the contribution of others and take action to strengthen partnerships and support others to achieve effective outcomes;
  • take action to avoid or solve problems and create opportunities for positive change;
  • demonstrate commitment to ongoing personal and professional development;

The hours of work for this position are 35 hours per week (including evening and weekend hours; shares on-call duties). The incumbent will work 10am to 6pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and from 12pm to 8pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. The incumbent is also required to work every 5th weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from 12pm to 8pm. The salary for this position is $52,419 per annum (Level 7), plus comprehensive benefits.

Please note: A police reference check is required by the successful candidate prior to hiring. YWCA Toronto is a unionized workplace. Staff are represented by CUPE Local 2189. This position is within the Bargaining Unit. Please indicate on your cover letter, if you are an internal candidate. For internal applicants, this position is not secondable.

Please submit your cover letter and résumé to: Danielle Nakouz, Manager of Elm Housing Support Program. YWCA Toronto. 150 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, ON, M5G 0B1. E-Mail:

Please quote JOB ID number ELM0010 and your name in the subject line.

Internal Deadline: Friday, October 13, 2017 External Deadline: Monday, October 16, 2017 

YWCA Toronto promotes the principles of anti-oppression and adheres to the tenets of the Ontario Human Rights Code. We encourage applications from women of all races, ethnic origins, religions, abilities and sexual orientations. YWCA Toronto provides accommodation during all parts of the hiring process, upon request, to applicants with disabilities. If contacted, please advise us if you require any accommodation. While we thank all candidates for their interest, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. No telephone enquiries please.

YWCA Toronto is a scent free environment.