Open Letter to Toronto City Councilors on the Closure and Relocation of Shelter Beds


Image description: Black and white photo of OCAP member sitting down in front of the Mayor's Office at City Hall. One member holds a sign reading SHELTER NOW with a drawing of a building on it

October 6, 2015

To Mayor John Tory and the Members of Toronto City Council:

The Daily Shelter Census continues to show that the policy you have adopted of keeping shelter occupancy at a level of 90% or less is simply being disregarded. City figures also show that an alarming spike in the number of deaths among those in shelters has taken place this year, with 23 deaths reported in the first five months, compared to 30 during all of last year.

In this context of worsening and lethal crisis, we are also dealing with the appalling situation where existing shelter space is threatened. The 124 bed Hope Shelter at College and McCaul closed in April and no replacement has been found. The 60 bed Second Base Youth Shelter, close to Kennedy and Eglington, is set to close.

OCAP Shuts Down Yonge & Dundas! #shelterforall


Image description: OCAP members hold a red and yellow banner reading "WE WILL NOT BE PUSHED OUT: More Shelter and Housing Now!" across an intersection crosswalk. To their right, a woman holds a black sign reading GENTRIFICATION above her head and to their left, a streetlight with a blue Yonge Street sign atop it

OCAP Shuts Down Yonge & Dundas, Demanding Immediate Action to End Toronto's Shelter Crisis!

Earlier today (September 21), members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) blocked traffic for over 40 minutes at Canada's busiest intersection, during the lunch hour rush. Earlier in the day, we staged a rally and meal at Toronto City Hall and marched up to Yonge and Dundas as it concluded. Upon reaching Yonge-Dundas Square, a few dozen activists, allies and supporters rushed into the street and began laying flowers and memorial signs around the perimeter of the intersection, preventing traffic from moving by blocking lanes. Speeches were made and banners unfurled mere meters away from the bus shelter where a man froze to death in January of this year.

Open Letter to Mayor John Tory Regarding Toronto's Shelter Crisis


Image description: A chain link fence in the foreground has a banner hung on it saying "NO MORE HOMELESS DEATHS", while in the background a large red brick building has a banner hung from its roof reading "HOUSING NOW"

September 18, 2015

Mayor Tory,

You will doubtless remember the homeless deaths that happened in this City at the beginning of the year. At the time, promises were made to reduce the level of overcrowding but nothing of the kind has happened. If we look at the latest Daily Shelter Census, issued by the City, we see an (understated) overall occupancy figure of 95%, with the men’s system running at 96% and the women’s at 97%. We must presume there is simply no intention of complying with the 90% policy that Council has adopted.

Help Fund OCAP's Fight Back!

REQUEST FOR ENDORSEMENTS: What is Wrong with the City of Toronto’s “George Street Revitalization Project”?


Image description: black and white photo of a sign above the entrance to Seaton House. It reads "Seaton Houses only three kinds of men: somebody's father, son or brother"

Sign on to this statement! Demand the City of Toronto enforce its own shelter standards and prevent the ongoing gentrification of the Downtown! To add your organization to the list of endorsers, email ocap@tao.ca or via Facebook and Twitter.

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Seaton House on George Street is the City’s largest men’s shelter. In 2013, over 3,000 men used one of the 540 beds there. The GSRP proposes to turn Seaton House into a long-term care home, emergency shelter, assisted living residence and service hub. There are serious concerns about Seaton House and its conditions but the ‘revitalization’ is a bad idea because…

OCAP Issues Statement on City of Toronto's "T.O. Prosperity" Poverty Reduction Strategy

AUSTERITY WEARS ITS ‘POVERTY REDUCTION’ MASK


OCAP members picket the Liberal poverty reduction consultation in 2013. In the foreground, a person holds a sign reading "Talk is Cheap - Yours is Worthless"

‘Poverty reduction’ is, of course, nothing new to any of us. The Provincial Liberals have kept this farce up for a truly astounding number of years, even as they imposed great levels of poverty, inequality and austerity on communities throughout the Province.

There is really no need to engage in any major examination of the City’s document for the simple reason that it is fluff. It lays out a ‘strategy’ that consists of pious hopes and meaningless statements of intent while,at the same time, carefully avoiding the very issues that could and should be addressed at the municipal level in order to challenge poverty. It proposes, for example, to work to ‘enhance investments in repairs to existing social housing’. The last federal and provincial budgets set aside not one penny for this purpose. What strategy is suggested to overcome this scandalous state of affairs? None at all because no one seriously expects this ‘goal’ to pursued.

Toronto’s Plan to Push Out the Homeless

The Mayor’s Office in Toronto is today occupied by a much slicker operation than it was during the years of dysfunctional, bigoted buffoonery that unfolded under Rob Ford. Mayor John Tory has resumed the drive toward a fully fledged neoliberal city but has the basic political skills to frame his twin agendas of austerity and upscale redevelopment in the language of inclusiveness. He has been sufficiently proficient at this to rapidly create what Michael Laxer has termed an “austerity consensus” supported by the overwhelming majority of the Council, including its left wing.

The agenda of the developers with regard to the central part of Toronto is to complete the creation of an interwoven hive of business, commerce, upscale recreation and high end housing. Standing in the way of this are enduring pockets of housed poverty and a considerable and growing homeless population. Those without housing, very understandably, have tended to gravitate toward the centre of the city and, over many years, shelters and other services have developed in this area. This situation is resented by those working for upscale redevelopment and not only because visible destitution impacts property values and ‘quality of life’ for those with the money to pay for it. It is also the case that the shelters, drop-ins and service agencies that homeless people turn to are located in areas that the forces of gentrification are laying claim to.

Invisible Austerity: An Illustrated Guide to Cuts to Social Assistance in Ontario

This comic explains the invisible austerity program that the Liberals have implemented, attacking poor people in this province. It goes through social assistance rules cut by cut and shows how things have gotten worse under the Liberals. It shows how poor people have lost important benefits and how Kathleen Wynne has no right to call herself "The Social Justice Pemier"


Click here to read the comic



Support The Struggle And Become An OCAP Sustainer

As little as $10 a month can help us maintain our work across this city and it just got easier to give.

For close to 20 years the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has been at the forefront of community based resistance to regressive social policy from all levels of government. We have helped inspire numerous groups across this country and continent, been studied in universities and college programs and most importantly we have time after time organized poor communities to stand up and take what’s theirs. To fight for their dignity and for justice.

Today we are engaged day to day in the fight against City Hall, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. Making sure that repairs are done in community housing, fighting for each and every entitlement on welfare and disability and working to win fundamental changes that will mean better housing, more to eat and better social programs.

All of this continues to be carried out on a shoestring budget. Year after year we scrape by on the generosity of our members and supporters, primarily by those who answer our emergency appeals for cash when we are on the brink of laying off staff or closing our office. Our monthly expenses are by no means outrageous. We pay our staff what we can, cover basic bills and operate a small office. Every month we are thousands of dollars short of covering our expenses.

Our goal is to change all of that by the end of this year. We are looking for all supporters of our work to pitch in and help support the struggle by becoming a part of our monthly sustainers program. Please only donate what you can. Five dollars helps. Ten dollars helps. And if you can afford to give more please do.

To become a monthly sustainer, send a void cheque with amount and which date of the month you'd prefer it to be processed to:

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton, # 206,
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 2K3

For more information call us at 416-925-6939 or email ocap@tao.ca.

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