OCAP's response to John Tory;
Please Keep up the Calls & Emails to the Mayor's Office!
December 15, 2014
Mayor John Tory,
Toronto City Hall,
Delivered by Hand
Thank you for your December 12th letter. Unfortunately, we can’t consider it a sufficient response. You stress the importance of adequate shelter but offer only some indications of potential improvements at some point in 2015. What we sought to convey to you was the fact that you have taken over the Mayor’s job in a situation of acute crisis for homeless people in this City. We demand immediate action.
Due to a complete failure to implement binding policies with regard to shelter occupancy, the system is operating at intolerable and life threatening levels of overcrowding. This remains so even with the privately run “Out of the Cold” programs absorbing significant numbers. The failure to follow through on a drop-in space for women and trans people, puts lives at risk right now. At a time when gender-based violence and sexual assault has gripped National attention, you have it in your power to implement a service that would greatly reduce the likelihood of violence done to women and trans people in this city. It is simply not enough to say that the Deputy Mayor will be looking into this, or that the January meeting of Council will be considering options for next year. Lives are on the line. This is an emergency situation and should be treated as such.
As a new Mayor who has spoken of the need for a ‘unified City’, we are calling on you to give the question of adequate shelter and safe space full and immediate attention. With all due respect to Councillor McConnell, we repeat our call for you to personally meet with a community delegation and ensure that a fitting response to this crisis be rapidly developed. It really seems very little to ask that, while this City enjoys the Holiday period, its homeless residents should have their basic dignity and safety taken care of. At the very minimum, shelters ought to be operating at or below 90% occupancy.
Thank you for your attention to this matter
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Issues of violence against women have been getting a lot more attention in the news than usual in the past few weeks. In these conversations you sometimes hear reference to survivors as ‘educated’ or as ‘public figures’. The media emphasis on the class standing of survivors implies that certain lives and stories of violence are more ‘believable’ (just barely) – while others can be more easily dismissed.
November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. For the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty it marks one year since the demand for a 24 hour women and trans drop-in was launched in Toronto. This followed the assault of a homeless woman, twice in one night, while sleeping on some steps at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. That incident, and the subsequent reaction by many (including police) to dismiss the woman, assuming she was ‘trading sex for drugs’ - is sadly not shocking and all too common for women on the streets.
Friday, February 1st
Metro Hall, 55 John St. (King and John)
In the past week there have been two homeless deaths in Toronto– that
makes 36 in one year alone (that we know about)! This comes at a time
when the City of Toronto and the Province have both cut funding to
homeless prevention programs, shelters, and housing. These cuts cost
lives. Shelters are already overcrowded and there is a chronic lack of
supports and housing. Join us on Friday to demand that the City
immediately release contingency funding for shelters, reverse the cuts
to shelters and housing, make it easier for people to access the
Housing Stabilization Fund (the replacement to Community Start-Up),
and stop lying to the public about space in the shelter system and
instead take action to end homeless deaths!
**We are calling on organizations and individuals to please sign-on to the the statement of demands to the City. This Statement is below. On Friday we will be delivering this.
To endorse this statement and to get involved, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-925-6939
We previously reported how, on October 3, an OCAP delegation went to the head offices of Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) to challenge a huge injustice the family was facing. Nadir Ali was living by himself in Canada after arriving here from Sudan and he obtained a bachelor TCH unit. When his wife and child were able to join him, they had no option but to live together in an overcrowded situation. TCH took the position that only Nadir could stay and that the other two family members would have to go to a homeless shelter until, at some point in the future, a two bedroom unit became available. When the family refused to be separated, they were threatened with eviction and, then, a massive rent increase they could not possibly afford.
On October 3, a line of cops waited for us in front of the plush Rosedale headquarters of TCHC and its management refused to meet with anyone other than Nadir, denying him any representation. Despite this outrageous behaviour, TCHC did not carry out any of its threats and, last week, the family signed a lease of a two bedroom TCH unit in an area of their choice. The courage of these people and the support mobilized on their behalf made all the difference in keeping them housed and together as a family.
If you are having a problem with OW/ODSP, are being denied benefits,
are having trouble with your landlord or TCHC, give us a call:
416-925-6939 and let's fight back together.