Extreme Cold Weather and the Toronto Homeless Shelter System: January 2016


Image description: A shopping cart full of bags and clothing is parked in front of the skating rink at Toronto City Hall. In the background, a person walks across the square.

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'.

OCAP Launches Online Community Organizing Course: Community Resistance to the War on the Poor

This year, OCAP hit a rare milestone in anti-capitalist community organizing: we turned 25 years old! Over the years we have learned a lot about organizing and some of that has been compiled into an online course so we can share what we know with others.

FAQ:

  • How long is it? 8 weeks
  • When is it? It begins the week of January 1-7. It is self guided so you can do it on your own schedule for each week
  • How much time a week will it take? This will vary depending on the week but each week has about a 10 minute video by John and A.J. about the week. Each week also has course materials. These usually take the form of relatively accessible readings but also may be additional videos, audio recordings and comics. You can also participate in the discussion boards with other students and the instructors if you want. So, it depends on how much discussion you want to participate in and how long it takes you to read the articles. We’d guess that you should plan for 2-3 hours a week. There won’t be assignments beyond going over the materials.
  • How much is it? Sliding scale - $25/50
  • What do I need for it? All of the readings and video connections are online so the only thing you need is access to a computer with an internet connection.
  • How do I sign up? Click here.

Below is the interview Justin Podur did with course instructors John Clarke and A.J. Withers about the course which was published in The Bullet.

City of Toronto Welfare ID Policy Hurting Immigrants Defeated!

At the beginning of September, Toronto Social Services adopted a new policy with regard to the ID that would be required of people who are not Canadian citizens.

OCAP Occupies Second Floor of City Hall to Protest Loss of Shelter Beds in Downtown East!


Image description: OCAP members occupy the rotunda of Toronto City Hall, draping a pink banner reading WE WILL NOT BE PUSHED OUT over the side of the railing

OCAP Members Occupy Rotunda at City Hall as Council Approves George Street "Revitalization"

Open Letter to Toronto City Council: Shelter Closures Threaten Deadly Winter!


Image description: Picture of bus shelter at Yonge and Dundas, where a man froze to death in the winter of 2015. Flowers are laid across the bench and a sign reading "HOW MANY MORE?"is propped against the glass wall

October 27, 2015

To the Members of Toronto City Council:

The meeting of City Council on November 3rd and 4th will deal with the proposal to clear out the homeless from George Street. You will be dealing with a recommendation from the Executive Committee to pass this measure.

The ‘revitalization’ process that you seem ready to set in motion constitutes a reckless and brutal attack on the homeless. It’s far from clear just how your Administration imagines it’s going to be able to relocate the hundreds of men that will be removed but we may be sure that the intention is to push them to the fringes of the City in the interests of an agenda of upscale redevelopment.

On October 6, we sent each of you a letter asking you to tell us who among you would be ready to accept a homeless shelter in your wards and how you would propose to ensure that transportation and services would be provided to those being relocated. Not one of you replied.

SHAMEFUL OVERCROWDING IN TORONTO’S HOMELESS SHELTERS


Image description: Black and white picture of sign from an OCAP protest. Both signs depict simple drawings of houses and feature the slogan SHELTER NOW

Toronto City Council is preparing to remove hundreds of homeless shelter beds from George Street in the downtown east. This is part of a drive to dismantle the shelter system in the central area and drive the homeless out to suburban locations. Without providing an adequate service network and access to transit, this plan would impose hardship and danger on homeless people. However, it’s far from certain that it’s even possible for the City to do this. The 124 bed Hope Shelter at College and McCaul closed in April and no replacement facility has been found to date. The risk is that the City will proceed with the closing down of the shelters on George Street without being able to provide any kind of viable alternative.

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.

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