News that the Salvation Army Hope Shelter, at McCaul and College, is set to close on April 15 constitutes a devastating blow. The shelter system is horribly overcrowded and all assurances that the City’s policy of keeping occupancy levels at no more than 90% will finally be adhered to have proven to be false. This particular shelter, located in the underserviced west end, is consistently operating at maximum capacity. Four homeless men died in January and the removal of 124 beds from the system simply can’t be allowed to happen.
Following the freezing deaths of two homeless men in Toronto, a third life has been lost this week. A 61 year old man came into the City's Peter Street Referral Centre last Thursday, according to shelter administration, to take a break from the streets under their 'respite program'. He died while he was inside the building with no information released on the exact cause of death.
This man's tragic death is reminder of the conditions homeless people face and how short life is for so many on the streets. During 2014, 29 people died in the City's homeless shelters - 26 men and three women. Their average age was only 57.6 years. We're fighting to reduce overcrowding in the shelters to the point where people can be sure of a bed and have an expectation of safety and dignity but we are only too aware that the bigger issue is to win decent housing for everyone as a matter of right!
Meet in front of City Hall (Bay and Queen),
Thursday January 15, 9.00 AM
Following two tragic freezing deaths on the streets this last week, community action, including an OCAP delegation to Mayor John Tory's office, forced the opening of vital warming centres for the homeless. They have remained open despite the calling off of the official cold weather alert. However, it is absolutely essential that enough additional space is opened and kept open to take the pressure off the overcrowded shelter system.
On January 15, the Community Development and Recreation Committee of City Council is meeting. We are going there to demand that enough space be opened immediately to bring occupancy levels down to the 90% maximum they are supposed to operate at. We will also call for two promised but delayed 24 hour drops for women and trans people to be opened right away.
A range of individuals and organizations, including OCAP, will be presenting the case for these measures and we are asking for as many people as possible to come out and show support.
No Homeless Deaths!
In the last 48 hours two homeless men died on our streets during the first cold days of this year's winter. The city of Toronto had failed to call an extreme weather alert which would have opened up 3 warming shelters. The emergency shelters remain full, turning people away daily.
We saw two crucial victories from today's emergency delegation to city
hall. Two warming centres, Margaret's Toronto East Drop-in (323 Dundas St.
East) and St.Felix Social Ministries Outreach (25 Augusta Av) are now
open. Thank you to everyone who came out and participated. And thank you
to everyone for continuing to remember and fight for those we've lost on
Warming Centres are vital, emergency, short-term wins, but the overall
system remains in crisis. Today's decision does not change the fact that
shelters are operating way over the 90% capacity rate promised by the city
two years ago. Instead, we find ourselves fighting to hold the city
accountable to their own emergency procedures.
Join us again on Thursday, January 8th at College Park (444 Yonge Street)
at 9 am to support the 5 women who were arrested on Nov.25th, and to
continue our demands for increased shelter capacity, and immediate action
on a 24-hour drop in space for women and trans people who are without
Let's build off the incredibly momentum from today. Let's keep up the
fight and fight to win!
When: Thursday January 8th, 9am
Where: 444 Yonge Street (College Park Courthouse at College and Yonge)
*Supporters encouraged to wear ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ T-shirts
On November 25, 2014, the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, five women were violently arrested after they peacefully refused to leave the City of Toronto’s Shelter Administration offices at 21 Park Rd. The sit-in was part of a protest to demand that the City of Toronto open up more shelter beds and a 24-hour drop in for women and trans people – commitments that were approved by City Council in 2014 but have not yet been acted upon. Daily shelter stats show chronic overcrowding in the system, many people are left with nowhere to go and the City of Toronto has no 24 hour services for women and trans folks. The lack of immediate action by the City is putting lives at risk. For more info on the crisis in the shelter system, visit http://www.ocap.ca/node/1202