Breakfast and Rally
Where: Toronto City Hall, Bay and Queen,
When: Wednesday, December 4, 9.00 AM
Last winter, OCAP took action to challenge overcrowding in the shelters. The City responded by promising, in April, to ensure that their facilities would operate at a maximum occupancy of 90%.
They had the option to open up new space immediately. But instead the immediate response by Hostel Services was to lay down 'flex beds' and try and cram more people into the shelters. Even with this sad attempt to make the numbers look better, the City has failed for 8 consecutive months to abide by its own 90% capacity standard. The crowding is getting worse as the weather gets colder and the risk of street deaths increases.
On December 4th the Community Development and Recreation Committee of City Council is meeting once again. They will be receiving a report from their staff on measures to deal with the crisis in the shelters. OCAP and others in the community will be going to the Committee meeting to demand no further delays - the City must open more shelters immediately to ensure no one else has to die on the streets. Please come out and show the politicians we will not let them abandon homeless people. No more homeless deaths.
*Sign up to speak: tell the politicians about your experience of flex beds, overcrowding and conditions in the shelters. Contact OCAP if you are interested in speaking and we can add your name: 416-925-6939 / ocap[at]tao.ca
Toronto’s Shelter Administration has released a report (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/cd/bgrd/backgroundfile-64009.pdf) that they will present to the Community Development and Recreation Committee (the City’s Committee responsible for shelters) this coming Wednesday, December 4th. This report is coming just as winter sets in and the actions that are taken in response to it are critical in addressing the crisis in the shelters. We know that the yearly Out of the Cold program (temporary charity based beds) are already at 111% - this speaks volumes about the overcrowding and conditions in the regular shelters. Measures that are included in the report include:
1. Flex beds. In April, the City Council called for shelter occupancy to be kept at no more than 90%. The ongoing use of flex beds has been employed to this end. These are essentially mats put down on the floor in common areas within the shelters that were previously for emergency use but have now become a common feature. The use of this arrangement to claim a reduction in shelter capacity is highly misleading and problematic. It simply means that more people are being crammed into overcrowded shelters. We must demand that flex beds not be used to conceal the problem in this way and that additional space be opened.
2. The report says that some additional bed spaces within the existing system will have been opened by the time the Committee meets. 8 in the women’s shelters, 14 in the men’s and 8 for single refugees.
Women’s organizations and community members have rallied and released an Open Letter to the City of TorontoSubmitted by ocap on Mon, 11/25/2013 - 15:19.
Women’s organizations and community members have rallied and released an Open Letter to the City of Toronto demanding immediate action on violence against homeless women.
This Open Letter (to download this letter, click here, also see below) is signed by a wide range of community agencies, women’s organizations, violence against women shelters, and prominent individual community voices such as Jane Doe, Cathy Crowe, Min Sook Lee, Winnie Ng, and Laura Sky. Organizations include: Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, Ernestine's Women's Shelter, 416 Community Support for Women, Jessie’s - The June Callwood Centre for Young Women, Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services, The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), Native Women’s Resource Centre Toronto, Nellie’s, No More Silence, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, The Redwood 'A Safe Haven for Women and Children Fleeing Abuse', Regent Park Community Health Centre, Sistering, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Toronto Drop-In Network, Street Haven, Street Health, Toronto Rape Crisis Centre /Multicultural Women Against Rape, Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke.
*To add your voice to this Open Letter, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many women in our city are forced to sleep outside. Shelters are over- crowded and some nights women can’t even find a bed. Homeless women are exposed to high levels of violence; based on a study by Street Health and Sistering, 37% have been physically assaulted in the past year, 21% have been sexually assaulted one or more times in the past year.
On Sunday, September 22, 2013 a woman slept in a well-lit area near Dundas
& Sherbourne. That night the woman was sexually assaulted two different times. The incident(s) would have been unreported if not noticed by staff of a local agency on the video surveillance tape of the organization.
Police posted photos on their website (http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/pdfs/27649.pdf), however failed to hold a press conference or inform women and service providers in the community about this incident. Making the incident known to the public would assist in alerting women in the community about the risk, identifying the men to the public, and raising urgent awareness about the unsafe conditions that homeless women face. Such media and public responses were seen in the past in cases of assaults occurring near local universities and in parks.
Below is an attachment of a letter & cover letter for MPPs asking for them to oppose any merger of ODSP and OW as proposed by the Lankin Sheikh Report. There is also a pledge for them to sign saying they would vote against any such a move if it were brought forward as a bill in the Ontario Legislature.
The Raise the Rates Campaign is building opposition to any attack on ODSP and the people in this Province that rely on it. We say the program should be improved not reduced or eliminated. If you would be interested in taking this letter to your local MPP, whichever party they belong to, please let us know so that we can add your initiative to the list of local events.
Go to this web site for contact info for all MPPs:
If you would like further information or to discuss this further you can call the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) at (416) 925-6939
Communities united in fighting attack on Disability Benefits!
*See the Resolution to fight the ODSP/OW merger, Adopted by the Raise the Rates assembly, here: http://ocap.ca/node/1107
*See the joint Statement with Mamaweswen here: http://ocap.ca/node/1108
OCAP was proud to participate in the Raise the Rates Week of Action with a range of community and union allies. Linking up with the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage, we held actions in a range of Ontario cities and towns. People mobilized to demand living wages, decent income, a Raise in the Rates of Social Assistance, and the reversal of austerity based cuts like the elimination of the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB). Through determined community mobilization last year, we forced $42 million out of the government in what was meant to be CSUMB funding. That funding runs out at the end of this year, and so the call to restore CSUMB is timely and vital.
Above all, we challenged impending measures to attack disabled people on ODSP through the government’s proposal to merge ODSP with Ontario Works (OW).
Gentrification. It’s the process by which wealthy people take over a poor or working class area, driving up costs.Submitted by ocap on Sat, 09/21/2013 - 15:25.
Gentrification steals neighbourhoods for essentially 2 reasons:
1. Simple Economics. Wealthier people move in. More people buy instead of renting. They renovate rooming houses into the mansions they once were. This all decreases rental housing stock, driving prices up. Added to this, landlords begin doubling or even tripling rents knowing they’ll easily find tenants who can afford them.
2. Social Cleansing. Time and again we’ve seen that most wealthy people don’t want to see poor people, drug users, or homeless folks in ‘their’ neighbourhoods. One developer was recently quoted in the Toronto Star saying, “The Modern literally touches that old crack doughnut shop [Coffee Time at Queen/Sherbourne]. There’s probably 300 condos in The Modern… Now 400 people are going to descend on the street – and you think they’re going to tolerate crackheads? They’re not.” This attitude is partly about intolerance of drug users but it’s also about seeing all poor people as undesirables undeserving of being in the neighbourhood that was once their own.
Gentrification is happening across Toronto, in Parkdale, Regent Park, The Junction – and anyone who’s been to Sherbourne/Dundas knows it’s well underway here too. Sherbourne/Dundas has become an island under seige in a sea of gentrification. To the east lie condos brought in through the Regent Park Redevelopment. From the south, condo developments encroach from Lakeshore all the way up north of Queen. Rosedale and its surrounding restored Victorian Mansions crowd down from the north and just west, the Yonge/Dundas Square redevelopment, combined with the sell off of federal government buildings at Dundas and Jarvis, have paved the way for multiple condo towers and luxury hotels.
Extreme Heat Alerts and Homeless Shelters: Are you having to stay in a hot and overcrowded shelter this summer?
We are now in the season when Toronto experiences some very hot and humid weather. For those with access to air conditioning this is an irritation, but for homeless people on the streets or staying in overcrowded shelters, it is a much more serious situation. Recent levels of overcrowding have made the situation even more unhealthy and dangerous. Under intense community pressure throughout the winter and spring of this year, the City has agreed to keep shelter occupancy at a lower 90% but, until a new facility is opened up (which they say might be in the fall), they have been simply putting down additional 'flex beds' and cramming more people into shelters that are already beyond full. When the temperature climbs and humidity levels rise, these conditions become intolerable in facilities that have no air conditioning.
As heat alerts and extreme alerts are called, it is vital that action be taken to open more space and reduce the level of overcrowding during this summer period. If you are experiencing crowded conditions in an overheated shelter and want to challenge what is going on, then contact OCAP and we'll discuss what action can be taken.
*Download this flyer and please help distribute!
· If you have had trouble finding a bed, have been turned away from a shelter, have had experience with the ‘flex beds’, or have had to put up with unsafe, stressful or overcrowded conditions - we want to hear from you!
· If you have been staying outside but have experienced harassment from police or city officials – let us know!
· If you are a staff at a shelter or agency in the city and have had trouble finding someone a bed or have experienced the overcrowded conditions – we want to hear from you too!
We need your help to force the City to provide enough shelter space to ensure people have their right to safety and dignity respected.
Give us a call at (416) 925-6939 or e mail us at email@example.com.
OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union) Joins on to the Raise the Rates Campaign!
The Raise the Rates Campaign represents a broad and growing consensus amongst community groups, unions and anti-poverty activists about social assistance in this province. Together we reject attempts to divide poor people on assistance between those on Ontario Works and those on Ontario Disability Support Program. We are united in this fight and building alliances with all those living in poverty, people working low-wage precarious jobs, and unionized workers.
As little as $10 a month can help us maintain our work across this city and it just got easier to give.
For close to 20 years the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has been at the forefront of community based resistance to regressive social policy from all levels of government. We have helped inspire numerous groups across this country and continent, been studied in universities and college programs and most importantly we have time after time organized poor communities to stand up and take what’s theirs. To fight for their dignity and for justice.
Today we are engaged day to day in the fight against City Hall, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. Making sure that repairs are done in community housing, fighting for each and every entitlement on welfare and disability and working to win fundamental changes that will mean better housing, more to eat and better social programs.
All of this continues to be carried out on a shoestring budget. Year after year we scrape by on the generosity of our members and supporters, primarily by those who answer our emergency appeals for cash when we are on the brink of laying off staff or closing our office. Our monthly expenses are by no means outrageous. We pay our staff what we can, cover basic bills and operate a small office. Every month we are thousands of dollars short of covering our expenses.
Our goal is to change all of that by the end of this year. We are looking for all supporters of our work to pitch in and help support the struggle by becoming a part of our monthly sustainers program. Please only donate what you can. Five dollars helps. Ten dollars helps. And if you can afford to give more please do.
To become a monthly sustainer, send a void cheque with amount and which date of the month you'd prefer it to be processed to:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton, # 206,
For more information call us at 416-925-6939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.