Letter to MP Marci Ien: Federal Housing Aid

Marci Ien, MP
Toronto Centre, Ontario
430 Parliament Street
Toronto ON M5A 3A2
March 7, 2022.

Dear MP Marci Ien,

The Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN) is a network of homelessness and housing advocates, shelter providers, healthcare professionals, faith leaders, legal workers, and researchers who have come together to address the issue of homelessness in Canada on a local, provincial, and national level. Operating under the mantra of “shelter rights, housing rights, human rights” SHJN seeks immediate action and long-term sustainable solutions in the shelter and housing sectors.

We are writing you today because homelessness has reached catastrophic proportions in Toronto and across Canada. People have been left to freeze to death on the streets of Toronto, Montreal, Labrador, Winnipeg. It is the inhumane housing policy of this federal government that has led to this humanitarian emergency.

In the City of Toronto, the emergency shelter system has collapsed, and the situation is about to deteriorate further with the closure of the shelter-hotels. People have nowhere to go. In your own riding, the epicenter of the homelessness disaster, a homeless man was recently found dead in a bus shelter, suspected cause of death is hypothermia.

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Urgent Update: 214-230 Sherbourne for Housing!

The vacant properties at 214-230 Sherbourne St. are back up for sale on the market. City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam passed a motion at last City Council meeting requesting staff to report back to Council Wednesday, March 9th on the feasibility of purchasing the property for rent geared to income housing.  Bids are due by Friday, March 11th.

This may be our last chance to win this site for social housing before it could be lost to private condo developers! This site sits in the epicentre of the housing and homelessness crisis in Toronto. It is the site of the freezing death of Drina Joubert in 1985. It is less than 150 yards from the bus shelter where a man died of suspected hypothermia on February 4th of this year. It is one of the last corners of the neighbourhood that is not a condo development. If this corner is lost, it will have an enormously negative impact on the community and its services. Continue reading

Demand for Federal Housing Aid Now!

On February 4th 2022, it was reported that another homeless/unhoused man was found dead in a bus shelter at the corner of Shuter and Sherbourne St in the downtown east end of Toronto.  It is suspected that he died of hypothermia.  He died only 120 meters from the large, vacant property at 214-230 Sherbourne St., that advocates have long demanded be expropriated and turned into desperately needed social housing.

Every month, about 14 people are dying unhoused in the City of Toronto, including an Indigenous woman who died at one of the shelter hotels and someone who recently died near the Don Valley. The shelter system has collapsed and the City of Toronto is unable to provide even the basic life-saving measure of safe shelter. There are well over 8,700 people who are unhoused, with emergency shelters full, hundreds of people sleeping outside, with many thousands more forced to sleep in unsafe situations or couch surf. There are over 1,500 unhoused people that the shelter system cannot accommodate.

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Joint Statement the City of Toronto Budget

Mayor John Tory and City Councillors,

We, 59 organizations working across multiple sectors and with many communities in Toronto, urge you to consider our urgent call to improve the 2022 City budget and all future budget processes.

The crisis has become the norm in our city. On top of a pandemic, Toronto’s residents are grappling with multiple and intersecting crises — unaffordable housing; a homelessness crisis that is taking lives; an opioid crisis that is taking lives; a climate emergency; and racial, colonial, and gender-based violence and injustice. Toronto’s longstanding challenges in childcare, transit, and community services are now urgent.

These intersecting crises are impacting us all, and especially those most marginalized and excluded — people with disabilities; low-income residents; Indigenous peoples; Black and other racialized communities; immigrants, including those with precarious status; workers with precarious employment; women and gender-diverse residents; and those living in under-resourced neighbourhoods across the city.

Of the many things missing from the budget, the most glaring is a sense of urgency and a commitment by the City to do everything within its powers to build the Toronto we need and deserve. Continue reading

BROKEN HEARTS DAY – Homeless Memorial Tue Feb 15, 12pm

The Interfaith Coalition to Fight Homelessness ICFH) is inviting folks to participate in 

Broken Hearts Day on Tues Feb 15, 2022, at Noon at Nathan Phillips Square. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/756605439061316

Broken Hearts Day follows Valentine’s Day and creates a space to mourn the 3.6 homeless deaths a week in this city and the 132 deaths in Toronto’s shelter system in 2021. The event humanizes those who have died by having participants read the names of a homeless person who has died into a microphone. The participant then rips a red heart, saying “My heart is broken” and those in attendance respond “Our hearts are broken.”

For those participating in the event we ask that you please: 1) wear a mask; 2) social distance and 3) follow the instructions of the marshals. Please share this information about the event with your networks and use the attached posters on social media (IG 1 & IG 2 are for Instagram, there is a new twitter poster) and hashtag:  #BrokenHeartsDayTO