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Vigil for homeless woman who died earlier this week to be held today (Thursday, Jan 10) at 6pm

January 10, 2019

Vigil for homeless woman who died earlier this week to be held today (Thursday, Jan 10) at 6pm

Vigil will be held at the site of her death at 730 Dovercourt Rd and demands made of the city for immediate action on this deadly housing crisis. Speakers to include: Lesley Wood (OCAP), Patricia O'Connell, Melody Grant and Kira Hamilton (Sistering), Kapri Rabin (Street Health), and more.

Toronto: This past Tuesday, Crystal, a homeless woman and frequent user of the Sistering drop-in centre, died under tragic circumstances near Dovercourt and Bloor when she became trapped in a donation bin in the middle of the night.

On the night that Crystal died, women's shelters across the city were full. The sub-standard back-up respite centres were also packed and the two 24/7 drop-ins centres for women and trans people, which function as under-resourced de-facto shelters, were overcapacity.

Mayor John Tory has turned the issue into one about the design and location of donation bins, diverting attention away from the underlying housing and homelessness crisis his administration is responsible for, and can do something about.

After an extended community fight last year Tory agreed to add some respite and shelter capacity, but implementation has been slow and woefully inadequate. A 56-bed shelter that was originally scheduled to open in December will now open sometime in January, but with 120 women sleeping in the drop-ins, and more surviving in the respites, the beds just won't be enough.

Homeless and marginally housed women and trans people are subjected to violence every day because of overcrowding, high-barrier service models, lack of harm reduction focused approaches or wait-lists and are often left on the street without options. Many are forced to secure temporary shelter in settings that are unsafe, insecure and traumatizing. Many are assaulted on the streets each night. This must end.

Join us tomorrow to remember Crystal's life and demand that the City:

1. Open low threshold, harm reduction informed, smaller shelter models that can effectively support women and trans people.
2. Add 2000 emergency shelter beds across all sectors in 2019 and ensure shelter occupancy never exceeds 90%, as per council mandate.
3. Build safe, supportive, rent-geared-to-income,and accessible housing for all.
4. Fund harm reduction programs and overdose prevention services across the city.
5. Expand funding and resources to enhance services at 24/7 women and trans Drop Ins
6. Increase detox beds for women and trans people and reduce barriers to access.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton St #201
Toronto, ON. M5A 2K3
Phone: 416 925 6939
Fax: 1 855 714 0566 (toll free)
Twitter: @OCAPtoronto

For more information contact:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Phone: 416 925 6939

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