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Press Conference to Demand Immediate Action on Deadly Housing Crisis

January 16, 2019

Toronto: Following yet another brutal death of a homeless woman early this morning, January 15, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) is calling a press conference this Thursday, January 17 at noon to demand action on Toronto’s deadly housing crisis from all three levels of government. The homeless woman, whose identity has not yet been released, was killed after being run over by a garbage truck as she slept on a surface grate for warmth.

This most recent death comes just a week after another homeless woman, Crystal Papineau, died near Dovercourt and Bloor after getting trapped in a clothing donations bin in the middle of the night. That same night, a young homeless Indigenous man was also found dead.

Much like the night Crystal died, Toronto’s emergency shelters were full across all sectors last night, the sub-standard backup respites centres were packed, and the closest women’s drop-in, which offers no sleeping space, was overcapacity. The City’s nightly shelter census data demonstrates that the situation remains virtually the same almost every single night of the year.

“Last winter upwards of 800 people crammed into the abysmal back-up respite centres and drop-ins nightly because the shelter system was full. This year that number has jumped to over a thousand. The situation is dire, three homeless people have died within a week,” says Yogi Acharya, organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

The Mayor, Premiere and Prime Minister have done pathetically little to address Toronto’s deadly housing crisis, and by some measures, have made matters worse by strangling funding, weakening rent control and allowing existing social housing stock to fall into disrepair. Despite having nowhere else to go, the City has also issued notices to people living in tent cities under the Gardener expressway to vacate.

“The City must act now to secure provincial and federal assistance in ending the housing crisis and the epidemic of homeless deaths. All three levels must immediately free up the funding and resources necessary to open adequate temporary shelter while fixing existing social housing stock and building new supportive, rent-geared-to-income housing,” adds Acharya.

The complete list of demands is as follows:

* Declare an emergency or use any other measure to immediately secure provincial and federal assistance in ending the housing crisis and homeless deaths.

* Add 2000 new shelter beds across all sectors in 2019 to meet 90% occupancy target.

* Build safe, supportive, accessible, and rent-geared-to-income housing.

* Open low-threshold, harm-reduction based smaller shelters for women and trans people.

* Fund overdose prevention programs across the province.

For more information contact:
Yogi Acharya
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Phone: 647-764-0488

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