March 23, 2016
To the Members of Toronto City Council:
We are concerned agencies, organizations and individuals that work directly with people experiencing homelessness and who struggle to access safe and adequate shelter on a nightly basis. We are writing with regards to the city’s lack of response to the homelessness crisis and the dangerous, overcrowded and unacceptable state of the emergency shelters in the city.
Recently the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) released a report, entitled Out in the Cold: The Crisis in Toronto’s Shelter System, that details the experiences of over 100 service users in shelters and Out of the Cold programs. The report highlights concerns about unsafe conditions and difficulties with access. It also confirms that despite a promise made by city council to keep occupancy rates at 90%, shelters across all sectors continue to operate well above that each and every night.
The warehousing of homeless people in Toronto in overcrowded and vile conditions has a long history, as this collection from the past shows. Under the impact of austerity and redevelopment, the situation in 2016 is especially dreadful. The appalling levels of overcrowding are lethal at the moment and constitute an assault on health and dignity. OCAP is demanding that the Federal Armouries be opened to provide emergency shelter, as they were at various times in the 1990s and again in 2004. Pressure must be take off the system and we and our allies are working hard to prevail up Mayor John Tory and the City Council to act immediately.
MARCH ON CITY HALL! OPEN NEW EMERGENCY SHELTERS NOW! Wednesday, February 17, 11AM, Queen & SherbourneSubmitted by ocap on Mon, 02/01/2016 - 22:22.
TORONTO'S HOMELESS SHELTERS ARE BURSTING AT THE SEAMS
March on City Hall
Wednesday, February 17
Assemble: Queen and Sherbourne, 11.00 AM
Urgent Action Needed: No More Homeless Deaths
Demand Funding for Warming Centres and Shelters in the 2016 City Budget!
The City of Toronto is currently going through the budget process for 2016. Despite rhetoric about 'poverty reduction', there is no funding to keep vital Warming Centres open in the future or reduce overcrowding in the homeless shelter system.
Shelters are maxed out, operating over 90% every night (against the City's own policy), Out of the Colds - a charity based system that runs on fumes - is also maxed out, and Warming Centers are packed when they are open. Last winter we saw two homeless deaths in the City in the span of 24 hours before Warming Centers were even open. In 2013 and 2014, OCAP and many allies fought long and hard to see Warming Centers opened as an emergency measure amidst this crisis. Now the City is refusing to continue funding or to face the crisis of overcrowding in the shelter system by increasing overall shelter space.
OCAP statement released on the occasion of the City of Toronto's first extreme cold weather alert of 2016. On January 4, overnight temperatures went below -25C in parts of the city
Now that the first extreme cold weather alert has been called in Toronto, it is necessary to stress that the present inadequate measures to try and stave off the risk of freezing deaths can in no way be considered a reasonable or adequate response.
The extreme and disgraceful levels of overcrowding in the shelters create a situation where shelters are impossible to access for many and the conditions in them are an assault on the health and dignity of homeless people. This places lives at risk at all times and, certainly, during cold weather deemed less than 'extreme'.