Before David Hill became an Ottawa City Councillor, he was a volunteer at MHI. Mr. Hill first became involved with MHI through the Barrhaven United Church where he is a congregation member. At that time, in 2016, MHI was in the planning phase for The Haven and The United Church was garnering support for the new housing initiative. MHI invited folks from its membership to attend an open house outlining the vision for The Haven.
After attending the open house, Mr. Hill became a volunteer and joined the MHI community engagement committee as a local community member, and board member of the Barrhaven United Church. He quickly became the committee chair and was enthusiastic to showcase events that represent the diverse faith groups of Barrhaven, including local Christian Churches, the South Nepean Muslim Centre, and the Ottawa Torah Centre. In addition, the local faith-led community rallied around the new residents, keen to help these vulnerable families navigate the challenges that poverty can impart.
When MHI began embarking on a Veterans’ first housing model, Mr. Hill, a veteran himself., became very interested. He engaged his own network and assisted with fundraising initiatives to help make Veterans’ House Canada a reality. We all know how that story turned out: the Andy Carswell Building became Canada’s first supportive housing site specifically for veterans and Veterans’ House Canada (VHC) gained its own charitable status with a mission to provide supportive housing to veterans across Canada.
Mr. Hill learned about city investments and processes through his involvement with MHI. Now as City Councillor, Mr. Hill maintains a direct connection to the community he represents through volunteering with MHI as well as the Barrhaven Community Association.
It is clear his vision for affordable housing in Ottawa is shaped by his community involvement. In his own words, he notes that affordable housing is an important component in the overall health of Ottawa’s ecosystem: “We need to grow our economy so that people have access to good paying jobs. We need to improve our transportation and public transit systems so that people can get to the places they need to go efficiently. We need to improve the overall affordability of the city so that a market rate / middle class lifestyle is achievable for as many people as possible. We need to improve public safety so that people of all backgrounds, faith groups, cultures, skin colours, sexual orientations, and abilities feel safe in their neighbourhood. We need to steward our environment so that our next generations of Ottawans have a safe and resilient community that can absorb extreme weather events, appropriately manage our waste and keep our water systems clean. Low-income housing plays a complementary role in all of this and I will continue to champion the MHI model because I believe in its foundational community sponsorship concept and I appreciate very much the outstanding and disproportionate impacts that they have in Ottawa.”
Over the years Mr. Hill (and his family!) has participated in every holiday event since The Haven opened. He regularly attends The Haven celebrations of Seder, Eid, and Ramadan, and is always asking how he can help. Mr. Hill is humble about his involvement with MHI; as a volunteer, a fundraiser, and even his reoccurring acting role in The Haven’s annual Christmas play. Simply put, he puts his faith in action.