Emergency Winter and Shelter Support and Infrastructure Plan

Date: October 12, 2021
To: Mayor John Tory, members of Toronto City Council, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
From: Shelter and Housing Justice Network
Wards: All

Download the Winter Plan

Rather than establish another inadequate winter plan that leaves people in the cold and City staff scrambling, community advocates and researchers have drafted a reasonable and adequate Winter Plan and Plan for Moving Forward: Spring 2022 and Beyond. This plan would help the shelter system begin to transition towards a dignified, safe system and move more people into housing in the short term and create housing in the long term. In addition, this report presents key elements to understand the reality of unhoused people, housing crisis and shelter system in Toronto, as well as some of the most common barriers they face when trying to access social services or the shelter system. As seems to be evident, the shelter system is in crisis. It is over capacity, denies people, as a matter of course, and leaves people out in the cold.

There are significant equity and social justice concerns in the Toronto Shelter System that these plans and the corresponding report attempt to address and mitigate. In particular, Indigenous people, BIPOC people, 2SLGBTQ people, disabled people and refugees are all disproportionately homeless. Much of women’s homelessness tends to be erased through City of Toronto policy, making many women ineligible for homelessness programs.

There is an ongoing housing crisis in Toronto that has contributed to a 60 percent increase in homelessness since 2013. City of Toronto policies have been inadequate in addressing this crisis and its underlying causes.

Continue reading

Public Action to call for Raising the Social Assistance Rates

We’re Here For Our Money / Rally to Raise the Rates

Oct 21, 2021 @ 4 PM – Public Action to call for Raising the Social Assistance Rates

Join OCAP as we call for the Province of Ontario to immediately increase Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program monthly rates!

OCAP will be holding a demonstration at 438 University Ave on Oct. 21 at 4 pm to demand a meeting with the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, Merrilee Fullerton in regards to Raising the Rates of those on OW and ODSP. On October 1st, 2021, OCAP sent a letter to Fullerton’s office requesting a meeting and has not received a response to date.

Therefore, we have no option but to gather at the Ministry office to have our voices heard. Continue reading

Winter Plan to address growing shelter and housing crisis

Shelter Housing Justice Network releases evidence-based Winter Plan to address growing homelessness crisis

Press Release
October 12
What: Press Conference
When: Tuesday, October 12, 12:30 (following the Homeless Memorial)
Where: 19 Trinity Sq, (by the south steps in front of the Homeless Memorial)
Important: Please wear a mask and physically distance

A group of experts including scholars, front-line workers, people with lived experience, and community advocates have thoroughly examined the City of Toronto’s homelessness policy and shelter system. They have documented their findings in a, roughly, 60-page report – published by SHJN. Based on their assessment, they have arrived at a Winter Plan for the City of Toronto to enact immediately. Each Winter Shelter, Support and Housing Administration puts forward an inadequate Winter Plan. The City has scrambled to add unplanned spaces because of this poor planning. To avoid the repeated planning failure, address the ongoing crisis and systemic inadequacies and injustices SHJN is calling for the Winter Plan and the plan for the spring and beyond to be fully implemented.

The rate at which people without housing are dying keeps increasing each year. Shelter residents deaths are 78% higher in the first 8 months of 2021 over 2019. This injustice disproportionately impacts Indigenous and Black people in Toronto. 63% of all unhoused people in Toronto are BIPOC. The number of people in Toronto that die of an overdose who don’t have housing keeps rising. In 2019 the number of people who died of an overdose was 10, in 2020 it was 46. As a result of sky-high rents, gentrification, lack of RGI housing and an overflowing shelter system thousands of people suffer and many die preventable deaths. In addition, our city is still in the midst of a global pandemic. Shelter outbreaks are ongoing. Many services are still suspended and indoor space isn’t accessible for hundreds who live in encampments.

If all the demands in this winter plan are not met, the community will organize and agitate until the basic needs of unhoused people are met.

Key Demands

  1. Immediately incorporate 2,250 permanent, non-congregate shelter beds into the system.
  2. Repeal the ‘no camping’ bylaw.
  3. Extend shelter-hotel leases.
  4. Increase the target of newly attributed housing allowances in 2021 from 1,440 to 3,000.
  5. Freeze all evictions with the emergency powers of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
  6. Issue an inclement weather alert when necessary and open inclement weather sites during alerts.
  7. Implement COVID-19 indoor air quality safety measures and ensure full transparency at every shelter system site

Speakers will include:

Zachary Grant, Community Director Holy Trinity

Greg Cook, SHJN, Outreach Worker at Sanctuary

Livestream: Will be at the same link as the Toronto Homeless Memorial

https:// www.facebook.com/holytrinityTO/live/

Media Contacts:

A.J. Withers: theajwithers@gmail.com

Greg Cook: gregc@sanctuarytoronto.ca

I went to protest Toronto’s violent encampment removals. I was profiled, frisked and wrongfully arrested

Sep 29, 2021.

This year, I have been supporting anti-homelessness actions virtually, but after COVID-19 restrictions loosened and cases fell, I felt like it was important to show up in person to support encampment residents and the extreme show of force from officials in our city.

What I didn’t expect was that I’d end up profiled, frisked and wrongfully arrested by the Toronto police.

The morning of Sept. 16, protesters gathered outside Mayor John Tory’s residence to share their message. Organizers asked for volunteers to hold up signs with images of those who had been brutalized by the cops at an encampment clearing earlier this summer. I raised my hand, a small, but important gesture to show my solidarity and shed light on the city’s actions. As speakers stepped to the mic to share their statements, each of us took our place behind them. The crowd who had gathered was calm, receptive and supportive.

(click here to read more)

They were charged over a Toronto homeless clearance. They say police asked them to sign away their right to protest

Sept 30, 2021

Sam Nithiananthan and Jazzy Kieser had two options: sign a piece of paper agreeing “not to attend an unlawful assembly or protest” and walk out of the police station shortly after, or wait for a bail hearing and fight the conditions in court.

To Nithiananthan and Kieser, both charged over the protests that followed the recent city-ordered clearing of an encampment at Lamport Stadium, the conditions Toronto police were asking them to agree to were unacceptable and unconstitutional: they could make it a crime for them to protest and would prevent them from supporting people living in encampments

“There was no way in hell I was going to sign that thing,” said Nithiananthan, who objected especially to the condition on “unlawful” assembly. “Who gets to dictate what unlawful is?”

(click here to read more)

Thurs, June 16, 2021. Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) and Street Nurses Network (SNN) delivered Public Health Violation notices to the leaders of the City of Toronto’s “task force table” on Encampments

Thurs, June 16, 2021. Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) and Street Nurses Network (SNN) delivered the attached Public Health Violation notices to the leaders of the City of Toronto’s “task force table” on Encampments: Mayor John Tory, City Manager Chris Murray and Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop – demanding they cease and desist with the violent evictions of encampments and take an immediate public health approach. Please feel free to share the attached images online and with your networks. Lots of material on the HPAP twitter feed: https://twitter.com/HPAP_Ontario

#NoEncampmentEvictions #TOPublicHealthFail

With the notices, HPAP and SNN are also releasing a letter issuing urgent demands to Mayor John Tory, City of Toronto Council Members, & Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto Medical Officer of Health, which can be read here: Health Providers Against Poverty and Street Nurses Network call on Mayor John Tory, Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr Eileen De Villa to end encampment evictions.

“We are calling on the City to immediately cease and desist the violent displacement of encampment residents across the City”, HPAP Co-Chair Dr Maggie Hulbert said. “Violent security actions like we saw at the Lamport encampment eviction a few weeks ago only compound the physical and psychological trauma experienced by encampment residents. These attempted clearings are also not in keeping with healthy public policy. The Mayor’s lack of interest in meaningful engagement with the residents of these sites, as well as with people living in Shelters, is incredibly disappointing, and contradictory to City Council’s own recently passed Motion to engage encampments using Housing First and Human Rights based approaches.”

Around the world, public health agencies and human rights organizations, including Public Health Ontario, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations have issued guidance advising against encampment evictions. These reports and guidelines cite considerations including the risks attendant with separating residents from their communities and health supports, significant increased risk of fatal overdoses, and concerns related to increasing potential COVID-19 exposures for residents within shelters and other temporary accommodations.

#NoEncampmentEvictions #TOPublicHealthFail