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OCAP to lead rally and delegation to Shelter & Housing Administration at Metro Hall
April 14, 2019Toronto: Friday, April 12 at 1pm OCAP will lead a delegation of homeless people, advocates and allies to Metro Hall to challenge the City and its administrators on their plans to evict over 400 homeless people to the streets through service cutbacks as the weather warms.
The service closures, which start on April 15, will end respite services at 180 Princes Blvd. (200 spaces), 545 Lakeshore Blvd (200 spaces), 354 George St. (105 spaces), 25 Augusta (50 overnight spaces), and 201 Cowan Rd (21 spaces) by the end of spring. The scheduled closures of the University settlement respite (65 weekend spaces), and the volunteer-run Out of the Cold program (an average of 116 spaces nightly), further compound the issue putting the total loss at 757 spaces.
The City claims that some of the lost spaces will be made up by the opening of the two Sprung structures, originally scheduled to open in January, with a capacity of 100 each and a temporary 150 person shelter at 545 Lakeshore St W. Even so, Torontos already overburdened emergency system will lose 407 spaces, or just over 40% of its winter capacity. That number does not factor additional losses due to the closure of Seaton House, plans for which presently remain unclear.
It is evident that one reason for scaling back service is that the warming weather reduces chances of freezing deaths. This demonstrates the administrations concern lies more with avoiding the public outrage such deaths trigger than creating sufficient indoor shelter for the homeless, says Cat Chhina, Organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
The warming weather does not bring down the costs of housing in our City, nor does it reduce the numbers of homeless people, or increase the City's shelter capacity or supply of social housing. With emergency spaces remaining overburdened, under-resourced, and under duress, all indications are that the ongoing trend of two homeless people dying weekly will continue, adds Yogi Acharya, also of OCAP.
Camps are already springing back up under the Gardiner, from where they will once again be evicted. If homeless people end up in parks or on the streets theyre targeted for harassment there too, just where are people bearing the brunt of Torontos deadly housing crisis supposed to go?, asks Chhina.
The delegation will make the following demands of the directors of the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, and the Affordable Housing Office:
* No loss of respite and shelter spaces. If certain spaces need to be closed, open equivalent replacement spaces first.
* Add 2000 new shelter beds in 2019 to address the system-wide shortage.
* Expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne, a series of 7 properties vacant for 10 years.
* Build rent-geared-to-income housing on City owned properties
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton St #201
Toronto, ON. M5A 2K3
Phone: 416 925 6939
Fax: 1 855 714 0566 (toll free)
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