This morning we launched Toronto Robs from the Poor: The Misuse of the Housing Stabilization Fund. The report documents how the city has siphoned away or otherwise withheld nearly $18 million dollars from programs tackling homelessness over the last four years – all during an escalating crisis of homelessness and the shelter system.
Tuesday, April 25 | 10:30am | Toronto City Hall (Bay/Queen)
Meet by giant ‘Toronto’ sign in the square
Join us on Tuesday to deliver the Toronto Robs from the Poor report to Mayor John Tory. In addition to revealing how the city has siphoned away or otherwise withheld $18 million dollars from homelessness programs, the report also documents a troubling pattern of misreporting by the City. We will demand that the money diverted away from homelessness programs be returned immediately and be used to provide much needed respite to the homeless.
The stakes for people on the streets are high, one homeless person is dying every 10 days. Tory’s response to the crisis has been appalling and the threadbare denials and excuses that he and his administrators have put forward convince no serious observer. It’s clear that unless public pressure forces them to do otherwise, they will continue to serve the needs of austerity and upscale redevelopment.
That’s why over 200 people gathered outside the ‘Tower of Power,’ the Mayor’s multi-million dollar residence, this past Saturday to bring the crisis of homelessness to his door-step. Many slept out there through the night. It has been made clear to the Mayor that unless the very basic demands that have been put forward to tackle the homeless crisis are met, we will continue to escalate the fight. Contrary to the position that the city lacks resources to meet these demands, the report we will deliver on Tuesday makes clear that the City has immediate access to at least $18 million it can use to address the crisis.
Join us on Tuesday to take the fight forward.
Note: Our delegation clashes with another action called by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, a group we are in allied with. Since our delegation will conclude before their action does, we encourage you to attend that action afterwards.
Is OCAP Really Being ‘Unfair?’
On Saturday, April 22, at 7.00PM, OCAP will be back in front of Mayor John Tory’s luxury condo at Bloor and Bedford to challenge the homeless crisis in Toronto. This time, we will bed down and stay for the night. Tory has previously accused us of being ‘unfair’ by bringing the fight to his private residence. At least two City Council members have taken the same position publicly. Sections of the media have been aghast that we would behave in this way. This being so, we wanted to put the following points on the record.
- We are not challenging some inconvenience or mild injustice but the lethal abandonment of homeless people to the streets. The shelters are bursting at the seams, the City is failing to implement its own policies with regard to occupancy levels and the back-up warming centes and volunteer-run Out of the Cold facilities have closed for the year. Homeless people have died this winter for lack of adequate shelter, they have suffered hypothermia on the cold streets, and their health and dignity have been assaulted. City Council has cut homeless services in the midst of this situation and made it clear that the needs and survival of homeless people are valued much less than the objectives of austerity and upscale redevelopment.
- John Tory can’t plausibly deny that he is fully aware of the reality of the crisis on the streets of this City. The threadbare denials and excuses that he and his administrators have put forward would convince no serious observer. Homeless people and their advocates, front line workers, medical providers and religious leaders have all provided him with abundant and compelling evidence of the gravity of the situation. He knows but chooses not to act.
- If we were dealing with a Mayor who, in good faith, was seeking to find solutions and take vitally necessary actions to deal with the crisis, we would be taking a very different approach. However, we have learned from bitter experience that ‘going through the proper channels’ is to disappear into a maze of political evasion and bureaucratic delay. Those who tell us we should be going the route of polite discourse and restrained tactics, may be prepared to accept the suffering and misery of the homeless but we are not. We look to maximize the pressure on the Mayor and, if our home visits make him uncomfortable, so much the better.
- We think that coming to the front door of Tory’s luxury dwelling is far from ‘unfair’ and that, in fact, it is entirely fitting and just as a course of action. The building he lives in is known as the ‘Tower of Power.’ If he and his well-to-do and well-connected neighbours are mildly inconvenienced by the actions, the discomfort is nothing compared to the impact on human lives of the failure to provide basic shelter from the elements or shelter conditions that are remotely humane and decent. If Tory wants us to be more ‘reasonable,’ he can tell his political co-thinkers and developer friends that he will meet the very basic demands we put forward in response to a desperate and worsening crisis of homelessness.
We will be bedding down in front of John Tory’s condo on April 22 and we make no apologies for our actions. In this wealthy City, the fact that people lack even shelter space, is a shame and a disgrace and we intend to challenge that even in the face of high placed disapproval.
Join us for our monthly speakers series focusing on topics central to poor people’s issues and organizing. A new topic is presented every month and all events are open to the public. Come on out, invite your friends and please share widely!
April’s topic is: The Trouble with the Housing Bubble
– What are the reasons behind the current housing crisis?
– How are people fighting evictions and exploitative landlords?
– What are our rights as tenants?
Join us for a conversation over good food as we strategize around these and other questions to build the fight for public and affordable housing.
Speakers: Gideon Kalman-Lamb & Kelly Bentley
Gideon is a PhD candidate in political science at York University, where he studies the political economy of capitalism, socioeconomic inequality, and housing.
Kelly is a long-time housing activist and tenant-rights organizer.
Come for the meal at 6pm and stay for what promises to be a a very informative and engaging session!
by AJ Withers and John Clarke
Disabled people in Ontario are much more likely to experience poverty than non-disabled people. Many have to live on sub poverty payments under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or the even more wretched income provided by Ontario Works (OW). Those that are in this situation are confronted by an ongoing process of surveillance, invasion of their privacy and moral policing. Those disabled people who are working, because of systemic discrimination, are less likely to be receiving living wages and are far more likely to be precariously employed. As anti poverty organizers, we fully understand the anger and desperation that such a situation generates.
On this basis, it is easy to see how, at first glance, there are aspects of a Basic Income (BI) approach that could be found attractive by disabled people. The promise of a somewhat higher payment, provided without the kind of intrusive element that presently exists, would seem to represent a step forward. However, we think it’s important to ask why the Liberal Government would suddenly support a new approach that would mean considerably increased costs. Why would a Government that has driven down the adequacy of benefit rates and cut programs for disabled people want to reverse course so dramatically? BI can look very alluring but we are convinced that, In reality, it will mean a degrading of the already inadequate ‘social safety net’ that will make things dramatically worse for disabled people. Continue reading
The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been championed by both progressives and conservatives. Not everyone on the left, however, is behind the idea. Is the UBI a means of redistributing wealth, attacking poverty and protecting workers from technological displacement? Or will basic income serve to advance an agenda of austerity and privatization?
Join us on April 13th as we begin to debate these important questions. The debate will feature two speakers speaking in favour of the left support for Basic Income and two against.
John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
Josephine Grey, Low Income Families Together (LIFT)
Jessica Sikora, OPSEU Local 586
Guy Caron, MP (NDP) and Federal Leadership Candidate
Moderator: Avi Lewis, The Leap
Opening remarks: Kikélola Roach, Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice & Democracy, Ryerson University
In the spirit of The Leap Manifesto’s call for ‘vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic income,’ this interactive event is for anyone trying to figure out whether basic income should be a priority demand for progressives.
Hosted in partnership with: OCAP, OPIRG-Toronto, OPSEU Local 586, Ryerson Centre for Policy Innovation and Public Engagement, The Leap, Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy.
Saturday, April 22 | 7pm-7am | Bloor & Bedford [Outside St.George Station]
Facebook Event | Dinner, Rally & Performers: 7pm – 9pm | Breakfast served at 6am
Don’t Miss the Beginning, Stay As Long As You Can
[ASL Interpreter on-site from 7pm-9pm, St.George is an accessible station]
Watch the Video Trailer | Download Flyer | Is OCAP being ‘unfair?’
Update: Read our article in the Now Magazine documenting how the city siphoned millions of dollars away from homelessness and homelessness prevention programs during this time of crisis.
It has been a terrible winter for Toronto’s homeless. The shelters have seen appalling levels of overcrowding and even the warming centres and drop ins have been hard pressed to deal with the numbers seeking a place of refuge. The overcrowding has caused four deaths and homeless people have been hospitalized with hypothermia.
At this critical time, we are going back to John Tory’s multi-million condo home for a sleep out to drive home the need for shelters for the homeless in a City that drips with wealth. We will set up at 7.00 with a meal, speakers and entertainment. Come out and stay for as long as you can to help us win the right to shelter for those Tory and his friends are abandoning to the streets
What to bring: If you can, bring blankets, sleeping bags, and other things to keep yourself warm through the night. We’ll have sleeping bags with us for those who don’t have them. There will also be warm drinks and snacks throughout the night.
Contact us at ocap(at)tao.ca or call at 416-925-6939 for other accessibility concerns.