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.

This humanitarian crisis cannot be allowed to continue. It is the refusal of your federal government to fully fund a national housing program that builds new social housing stock that is the cause of this crisis. A national housing ‘strategy’ that refuses to build housing has proved to be devastating as the number of people left unhoused continues to grow at alarming rates and communities do not have the resources to even provide adequate shelter. It is the federal government that must intervene with housing aid now! Housing is not a commodity, it is a basic, lifesaving human right. We require a nationalized housing program like Medicare.

We demand federal housing aid. We demand the following aid now

  1. The immediate construction of at least 10,000 units of rent geared to income social housing in Toronto to begin to address the homelessness crisis our city is facing.
  2. The immediate expansion of the Rapid Housing Initiative for the next five years so the City of Toronto can purchase or expropriate buildings and vacant land for social and supportive housing. This must include the property at 214-230 Sherbourne St.
  3. Adequate funding for Indigenous housing as a concrete action towards reconciliation.
    The housing and homelessness crisis requires urgent federal action. We request a meeting for your response to this urgent call for aid within the next 5 days. Please contact us with your reply as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Shelter and Housing Justice Network—SHJN