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Activist Communique: Come out Monday, October 28 to demand action from the City of Toronto on homeless shelters

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Forwarded Call Out:

Monday, October 28th
9:30am
Toronto City Hall - Committee Room 1

The City of Toronto has failed for 7 months to meet the 90% capacity standard for Homeless Shelters that they adopted in the spring after months of community action.

The issue of shelters was supposed to be on the Agenda for this Monday's Community Development and Recreation Committee, but once again, the City is delaying on the basis that a 'report is not ready to be delivered by Shelter Administration'

We have pushed for the issue of homeless shelters to be on the agenda fo this Monday's meeting regardless. We are encouraging people to come out and speak to the issue - sign up for a deputation, come and and support others. While there is no official report, we do have what the head of shelter services, Philip Abrahams, has said is the City's proposed course of action:

1) They are working on two (more) reports: One on a framework for planning and managing housing and homelessness services for the next 5 years, the other as an 'update' on shelter occupancy

2) Flex beds (i.e mats on the floor of already overcrowded shelters) are now permanent

3) 30 additional beds to be added in the next few weeks in the already existing shelter system (where this will fit, we have no idea. Are these more Flex Beds?). This includes 6 whole beds for women.

4) For Extreme Weather alerts they plan to add: 15 beds for women, 12 for men (again, where these will be is beyond us)

5) They say they are working to open an additional space for women with 30 beds:  no definitive date this will be open, no address.

6) Once again, the assertion that they want to 'move people in to permanent housing' but not addressing the obvious lack of affordable housing in the City of Toronto

The reality is that homeless shelters in this city are in a state of crisis. The numbers that we reported on in August, show massive overcrowding beyond 90% in each sector (even with their flex beds) http://update.ocap.ca/node/1096. The stories that we hear are about mats on the floor of common areas, not enough bathrooms, not enough lockers to store your belongings. For many, staying outside feels safer or quieter.

That choice should not be forced on people. Everyone deserves a roof over their head. The City had the ability to open up emergency space in the spring, and they have failed to do so. They can produce report after report - but if they fail to open space, we will see deaths on our streets this winter.

Come out Monday if you can. Contact members of Community Development and  Recreation Committee and Demand Immediate Action:

Anthony Perruzza (Chair): 416-338-5335 / councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca
Joe Mihevc (Vice Chair): 416-392-0208 / councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca
Kristyn Wong-Tam: 416-392-7903 / councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca
Josh Matlow: 416-392-7906 / councillor_matlow@toronto.ca
Maria Augimeri: 416-392-4021 / councillor_augimeri@toronto.ca
Paula Fletcher: 416-392-4060 / councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca

--------------------

Shelter Crisis At A Breaking Point! Urgent Action Needed! Sign Up for a Deputation at the City - October 28th, 9:30AM

The city’s shelters are overcrowded and the crisis of homelessness is continuing to worsen. It is certain that the colder weather will only make this situation even more desperate. City Council voted to bring shelter occupancy rates down to 90% but they have failed to keep their promise.

Instead of taking real action, the city has thrown some mats on floors of shelters and called them ‘flex beds’. It has been 7 months since that resolution was passed and conditions are worsening. Capacity for all shelter remains well over 90% in all sectors.

For women, the state of the city’s shelters is particularly devastating.

Recent city stats confirm that women’s shelters are operating at 97% capacity or higher every night, even with the use of ‘flex beds’. Thissituation is abhorrent and puts women at risk of violence by leaving them on the street without options.

On Sunday, September 22, 2013, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., a homeless woman was sleeping on some steps in the Dundas Street East and Sherbourne Stree area. She was sexually assaulted by two different men that same night (see the police bulletin here .

These circumstances should not be allowed to continue. The City has remained idle for far too long and needs to take immediate action to address the crisis in the shelter system that is putting lives at risk every night.

Come to City Hall on Monday October 28 2013 at 9:30AM in the Committee Room to hold the City accountable and to demand that the City:

· Open new shelters in all sectors - men, youth, co-ed and women - to deal with the current crisis and to implement the motion passed by city council regarding the 90% capacity. Mats on the floor of already overcrowded shelters should NOT be considered an option.· Open shelters that are harm reduction and pet friendly.

· Ensure that the shelters are located in accessible spaces for women and trans folks who are most marginalized.

· Immediately open 24 hour or after hour safe space in the downtown east and west ends, especially accessible to women in these areas, in order to deal with the urgent situation and incidents of violence against homeless women.

HOW TO SIGN UP TO SPEAK:

*At this point, we are encouraging people to sign up to speak under the 24.6 Funding item. When CDRC adds Shelters as its own agenda item (which should happen the morning-of as an emergency motion), people can switch on the spot.

• You can come to Committee Room on the morning of and request to speak to the Clerk

• OR You can go to this link and click on “request to speak” at the top of the page. Add your contact information to the email form and send.http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.CD24.6

• OR you can request to speak by emailing cdrc@toronto.ca, letting them know you want to depute at the October 28th Community Development and Recreation Committee Meeting

• OR you can request to speak by calling the clerk at (416) 397-7796 and providing the same information as above.

Get Involved with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
www.ocap.ca
416-925-6939
@OCAPtoronto

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