OCAP Occupies the Former Hope Shelter, Kicking Off #Shelterforall Campaign!

Image description: 3 OCAP members in orange safety vests stand on the roof of a brick building after hanging a banner reading "WE WON'T BE PUSHED OUT: More Shelter and Housing Now!"


Today, September 18, OCAP members occupied the roof of the former Hope Shelter at College and McCaul Street, to protest the loss of 124 shelter beds due to Hope's closure and to draw attention to the ongoing crisis in the city's shelter system.

Around 9AM, 3 OCAP members gained access to the roof and hung a banner reading "WE WON'T BE PUSHED OUT: More Shelter and Housing Now!". Throughout the day, on the street below, OCAP'ers handed out leaflets detailing the numbers behind the shelter and housing crisis, including 90,000 households waiting for social housing, more than 1000 shelter beds lost since the year 2000 and 740 people who have died homeless on city streets since 1985.

These horrifying numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, with more shelter cuts looming as the City pushes through the George Street and Seaton House redevelopment scheme and demand for limited shelter space continues to climb dramatically. The City continues to ignore its own stated policy of ensuring shelter occupancy is at or below 90%, a motion that has been on the books since the 1990's and which was ratified again in April 2013, under tremendous community pressure.

In the context of this housing and shelter crisis, the loss of the Hope Shelter is a reflection of all that is wrong with the current agenda being pushed through City Hall, which favours developers and speculators who treat housing as a commodity and not a basic right. OCAP took action today to kick off a renewed fight to defend, expand and improve the shelter system. Today was the first of several actions planned for the next few months, as the fight for shelter intensifies. We will be directly confronting the architects of the shelter system's collapse on Monday, September 21 at City Hall.

Around 3:30PM, the occupiers on the roof came down under their own power, without any arrests or charges laid, having occupied the building as long as intended. We have put the City of Toronto on notice that we will not stand by as people die on the streets, as happened in the winter months of this year. The shelter crisis can and must be resolved and we demand immediate action from the City to do so. After 4 freezing deaths on the street this year alone, we cannot accept any more empty negotiation with or promises from the City. Join the fight to demand #shelterforall on September 21 and in the weeks and months ahead.