Regent Park Community Health Centre Advocacy Committee and the Shelter and Housing Justice Network are disappointed that, after nearly 10 years of organizing by many organizations and people in the community, the City of Toronto has failed to purchase the property at 214-230 Sherbourne Street. However, the City has the power to expropriate the site for social housing.
“We now call on Mayor John Tory, the members of the Planning and Housing Committee, the Executive Committee and all of Toronto City Council to expropriate this land and create 100% rent-geared-to-income social housing units,” says Josie Ricciardi, manager of community health programs at Regent Park Community Health Centre and spokesperson for Regent Park Community Health Centre Advocacy Committee.
A report on the “Revitalization for the downtown east” will be on the Toronto City Council Planning and Housing Committee agenda on March 25th and on March 30 a report back from staff on the bid to purchase the property will be going to the Executive Committee. The community is mobilizing a call for the City to proceed with expropriation immediately.
“The fight to expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne must push forward. That corner can not be lost to condo development while people are abandoned to freeze to death outside its doors. This land has now been sold to developers who will, no doubt, try to develop it into condos that will further displace, disproportionately Black and Indigenous, people from their neighbourhood. The governments should not be allowed to ignore this situation and turn their backs on the people who have a right to live and a right to basic shelter and housing,” says Ricciardi.
“People have fought for the land at 214-230 Sherbourne Street while it sat vacant for over 10 years and the ravages of the housing and homelessness crisis have decimated the community outside its doors. The site at 214-230 Sherbourne is in the epicenter of the housing and homelessness crisis. If a condo moves in it will have significant, negative consequences on the community. Any developer that tries to take this site from the community will have a fight on its hands,” says Dr. A.J. Withers, from the Shelter, Housing Justice Network and Adjunct Faculty in Critical Disability Studies at York University.
“The City is also planning to displace 40% of the residents in the shelter system – or 3,200 people. But, the shelters are full. There has been an increase in the number of unhoused people for six months or longer from 50% in 2018 to 75% in 2021. Accounting for the closure of the borders, homelessness has increased 40% in this period. It is Indigenous and Black people who are disproportionately unhoused. Housing is desperately needed and there is limited time to act on this site,” Withers adds.