This past Monday, a severe storm hit Toronto that claimed at least one
life. It is now clear that many homeless were left outside to fend for
themselves during this extreme weather. According to reports, people were
turned away from the city shelter referral centre on Peter St, after being
told there wass 'no space', while another 140 people slept on the floor of
the referral centre itself.
Ward 27 Councillor, Kristyn Wong Tam has said that she is 'looking into'
why there were no spaces. That's a good question and we can help her with
the answer. There are not enough shelter spaces in this city thanks to
the efforts of the city itself. Over the last 10 years, we have lost
hundreds of shelter beds especially in the Dundas-Sherbourne area where
the need is especially acute.
While Wong-Tam attempts to present herself as a champion of the homeless,
just this past June she voted in favour of closing down the School House
shelter, a city owned space on George St. 55 beds will be lost in this
closure, specifically harm reduction beds for those who drink. On
Wednesday, November 14th the issue of the School House Shelter will be
brought back to City Hall for a final report on how the money that should
be spent keeping the shelter open, will instead be re-shuffled away from
providing shelter spaces at all.
Monday night's incident should serve as an alarm bell with the winter
season only a few weeks away. Shelters are operating at capacity and no
new spaces are being opened up. The church based Out-of-the-Cold program
is never enough to meet the needs. The City is responsible for all of its
residents, including the homeless. Wong-Tam and all of City Council are
responsible for a loss of permanent shelter infrastructure in this City
that left people out in the cold this week and every other week of the
OCAP is fighting the closure of the School House shelter and we demand
more and better services for poor and homeless people in this city. We
will not sit by and watch the doors of a shelter be closed in a priority
neighborhood while people are at risk of freezing to death on the streets.
Those responsible for putting peoples lives at risk will be held
accountable and, if the City fails to act, the community will act
independently to open shelter space for those who need it.
Contact for further comment or information:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
www.ocap,ca / firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-925-6939