OCAP | Public Housing
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is a direct action anti-poverty organization that fights for more shelter beds, social housing, and a raise in social assistance rates.
poverty, homelessness, housing, social assistance, ontario works, odsp, anti-poverty. ocap. ontario coalition against poverty, shelters,
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Defeat Ford: Taking the Fight To Doug’s Doorstep

Rally at Doug Ford’s Campaign Headquarters
Sat, June 2 | 2pm | Kipling Plaza, 2141 Kipling Avenue
Facebook Event | Reserve a seat on the bus
Flyer | Poster

Bus information: The rally location is accessible by the TTC, but it’s nice to get there together. We have two buses and two pick up locations – one outside St. George station (Bedford exit) and another at Allan Gardens (Sherbourne/Carlton). If these are on-route for you, then please sign up here and come with us. If not, we’ll see you there.

Doug Ford is a corrupt multi-millionaire whose party’s record is one of destroying Ontario’s public services, increasing poverty, and intensifying racism and bigotry. A Ford government promises corporate welfare and tax-breaks for the rich, and service cuts for the rest of us who depend on public hospitals, education, roads, transit, income support and decent jobs.

We believe the only way for the struggling people of this province to win is to build determined social movements capable of taking on whoever gets in power. Ford would take the ongoing attack on poor and working class people to a new level, and so a resistance movement powerful enough to confront and defeat him must be built.

Support for Ford is slipping but a hard-right government led by the Conservatives remains a serious possibility. So join us on June 2 to demonstrate opposition to Ford’s agenda and to give him a preview of the resistance that awaits him should he become Premiere of Ontario. #FightToWin.

 

The Fight for Dundas and Sherbourne

Click on the photo to see a larger image.

A series of adjacent vacant properties (214-230 Sherbourne) are up for sale just steps from the south-west intersection of Dundas and Sherbourne. The owners want to sell the property to condo developers. We’re calling on the City to purchase the property, and if necessary, to expropriate it for building social housing.

Dundas and Sherbourne needs housing to be sure, but it needs housing that poor people can afford. The neighbourhood won’t get that housing with private development. Zoning requirements do require private developers to build at least 10% “affordable” housing, but this offers little cause for comfort. Outside of the fact that the 10% requirement is woefully inadequate and allows the developer to build up to 90% market-rate housing (most likely for ownership), the City’s definition of affordability is a cruel joke. The City defines affordable housing as “at or below the average City of Toronto rent.”

The average market rent in Toronto is over $1000 for a bachelor, over $1200 for a one-bedroom, and over $1400 for a two-bedroom apartment. Single people on social assistance receive a maximum of $721 or $1150, depending on whether they’re on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program. Even people earning the new minimum wage, a 21% bump over last year, must spend over 60% of their income on rent to secure a one-bedroom apartment. With a sizable plot of land up for sale just steps from Dundas and Sherbourne, the threat of homes for the wealthy being built in a neighbourhood overwhelming populated by the poor is very real.

Based on work we’ve done thus far, a motion to get the City staff to look into purchasing or expropriating the plot of land will go to City council on Tuesday, March 27. While a positive vote will help, turning back the tide of encroaching gentrification will take a fight. Thankfully, this neighbourhood has a long history of resistance. Join us and let’s fight to win social housing at Dundas and Sherbourne.

Update, March 27, 2018: The motion referenced above passed, which means staff at the Affordable Housing Office now have the mandate to pursue the purchase of the property. This does not, however, mean the property will be purchased by the City. A report will now be produced at the Affordable Housing Committee meeting on June 25 which will provide further insight into whether the City will pursue the purchase. We will post more information as it becomes available.

Update: June 26, 2018: The owners of 214-230 Sherbourne took the properties off the market. The owners seem to prefer to sell to developers willing to pay more than the already inflated market price. The affordable housing office has been directed to develop a general “affordable housing real estate acquisition/ expropriation strategy,” but they are choosing to not pursue the expropriation of 214-230 Sherbourne at this time. The motion does mention that if the properties were to be listed again before the end of the year, the affordable housing has the authority to put in a “conditional offer” to purchase the properties. But a conditional offer that’s contingent on council approval, which could take months, is likely not going to enough to stall the purchase of the properties. In the midst of a deadly housing crisis, there is no good reason to not proceed with expropriating these properties now.

For a brief history of the history of gentrification and resistance in the neighbourhood, see below:

A Brief History of Dundas and Sherbourne: Gentrificaion and Resistance

Downtown East Toronto, one of Toronto’s oldest working class neighbourhood, is being threatened by gentrification. This gentrification, which began in the mid 1960’s, has intensified over the last fifteen years. Working class people and the unemployed, who have been welcomed in Downtown East Toronto since the mid 1850’s, are now being displaced by large developers speculating and buying up property in the neighbourhood. Thousands of rooming houses, which have served as cheap housing for the poor, have disappeared from here.

The corner of Dundas and Shebourne remains one of the most important part of our neighbourhood. All Saints Anglican Church, which has served as a community centre since 1970, sits on the south-east corner. However, the valuable land located in and around Dundas and Sherbourne area is now being targeted by speculators and developers who are hoping to cash in. A property located on Sherbourne St. just south of Dundas Street East, just across from All Saints Chruch, is now being offered for sale to developers for a potential 23-storey condo development. On the site sits a large abandoned Victorian House, which had operated as a rooming house since 1914, and which has now sat empty for more than a decade. Two other houses adjacent to 230 Sherbourne, which also operated has rooming houses for decades, were demolished several years ago by the owners, and now only an empty lot remains.

The poor have a long history of fighting for housing at Dundas and Sherbourne area. In 1970’s the City of Toronto was facing a crisis as more and more rooming houses were disappearing. The city eventually bought up more than a dozen rooming houses on Sherbourne St., just north of Dundas Street East, which continue to operate today.  More than forty rooming houses were also saved, and bought by the city, in the late 1970’s, after poor people fought back against speculators buying up rooming houses during the St. Jamestown redevelopment. In the mid 1980’s, after Drina Joubert was found frozen to death at the back of a rooming house across the street from All Saints Anglican Church, a large coalition was formed calling on the Ontario government to build social housing for single adults. This battle resulted in the subsequent building of 3,000 units of social housing for single adults, including 61 units at Dundas and Sherbourne, behind All Saints Church.

On a nightly basis more than 100 people are sleeping on mats at All Saints Anglican Church, one of seven respite sites funded by the city this winter. A few blocks west of Dundas and Sherbourne, on George St., another respite centre, 100 people are also being sheltered in an old youth detention owned by the province, every night. As the city’s shelter and housing crisis continues to intensify we cannot allow developers to displace the poor and the unemployed, who had always been welcomed in Downtown East. In order to continue to ensure that this community keeps its working class identity we must protect it.

Three Things To Remember For The National Housing Day Of Action

Three things to keep in mind as you get ready to join us at the National Housing Day of Action:

1. Recent media reports have indicated that the National Housing Strategy may contain plans to build 100,000 “affordable” units over 10 years. But affordability has been conveniently redefined to mean at or just below average market rent, which isn’t affordable to anyone who is low-income and increasingly, even middle income.

2. Media reports also suggest the creation of a rental supplement, which has two problems. First, it puts money in the pockets of private landlords in an inflated rental market instead of ensuring low-income people have access to secure and stable housing that they can afford. Second, this program isn’t expected to roll out for another 2-3 years, keeping it consistent with the trend of promising solutions in the future while giving up nothing now.

3. Justin Trudeau will be in town today to unveil the National Housing Strategy this afternoon. The location chosen for the announcement – the Lawrence Heights Redevelopment Project, a site where 1200 social housing units are being replaced by private developers for the price of allowing them to build over 4000 for-profit units and retail space within the same development – speaks volumes for the real beneficiaries of the National Housing Strategy.

See you @ Noon at Allan Gardens.

Toronto: National Housing Day of Action

Rally & March | Part of nation-wide actions demanding public housing
Wednesday, November 22 | 12 Noon | Allan Gardens (Sherbourne/Carlton)
[Lunch Provided | Access Van on-site | ASL-English Interpretation]
Facebook Event | Simultaneous Actions: Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, London, Edmonton, Vancouver & others

The Liberal record on housing is a treacherous one. As public housing in our city literally crumbles to the ground, the Liberals are getting ready to announce their ‘National Housing Strategy’ on November 22. But the money has already been committed and it gives us a great big nothing.

Consider this: By 2019 – the end of their electoral term – the Trudeau Liberals will have spent less than 3% of the $11 billion they promised for affordable housing, allocating a big $0 to renewing federal, provincial and territorial partnerships in housing and increasing social housing by a meaningless 0.2%. Even if they are reelected, their current plan has them spending just a third of that money by 2022, making the whole spending plan unjustifiably back-loaded and reliant on them being re-elected a third time.

The motive is clear – the Liberals hope to gain favour through deception. They’re promising help in the ever elusive future while holding us hostage now as we lay besieged by a housing crisis they created.

Social housing has been on a downward spiral since the Chrétien Liberals eliminated new housing funding and downloaded the responsibility to the provinces 21 years ago. Vacancy rates in social housing now sit at zero and wait-lists in Toronto and other cities have grown so large that people on average have to wait for over a decade for a unit to become available. Meanwhile, even as most people’s real incomes drop, speculation in the private housing market has elevated rents to absurd heights. The combination of the two factors, coupled with poor provincial rent control, has sent poverty and homelessness rates soaring.

We all deserve affordable public housing and we must fight to win it. So on November 22, we’ll be joining with groups across the country to demand that the Trudeau Liberals:

1. Spend 100% of the $11.2 billion announced in the March 2017 budget within the next two years to respond to the crisis of social housing plaguing the country.

2. Renew federal subsidies to low-income tenants in existing social housing (co-op, nonprofit and public).

3. Build new social housing units with rent-geared-to income subsidies that are affordable to people living on social assistance and old age pension.

4. Eliminate homelessness and prioritize needs of those in precarious housing situations, especially marginalized groups including on and off-reserve Indigenous communities, recent immigrants, racialized communities, lone parent families and single seniors, women fleeing violence, disabled people, youth, people on social assistance, and the working poor.

Join us!

Endorsed by: CUPE-Ontario, Toronto Drop-In Network, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Advocacy Centre for Tenants-Ontario, Right To Housing Coalition, Tenants for Social Housing, Older Women’s Network, Toronto Raging Grannies, Communist Party of Canada (Ontario), Council of Canadians, Housing Action Now!, Front d’Action Populaire En Réaménagement Urbain, Réseau SOLIDARITÉ Itinérance du Québec, Carnegie Community Action Project, Vancouver Tenants Union, DTES SRO Collaborative.

Part of the National Housing Day of Action, see Facebook and Website.

Speakers Series: Social Housing – Don’t Board It Up, Build It Up!

Social Housing: Don’t Board it Up, Build it Up!
Thursday, November 16 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook Event

Speakers: Beric German, Gaetan Heroux & Yogi Acharya

 

Beric is a long-time anti-poverty activist, a member of OCAP and, previously, the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.

Gaetan has been organizing against poverty and homelessness for nearly three decades and is  the author of Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History.

Yogi is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

  • What is the history of public housing in Canada?
  • How has it come under attack?
  • How can we win it back?

Join us as we discuss these and other important questions that will help us understand the current housing crisis and talk about the upcoming National Housing Day of Action.

The monthly Speakers Series is where we discuss issues critical to the success of poor people’s movements. It’s where we build our capacity to fight to win.

Nov 22: Join the National Housing Day of Action


A call for groups across the country to organize & support actions demanding public housing

There is a severe shortage of social housing in Canada, a direct result of the federal government’s failure to fund new housing projects over the last 24 years, and its gradual strangling of funding to maintain the existing housing stock. The situation has reached a point where buildings are literally crumbling for the want of repairs and thousands of units are being boarded up. Vacancy rates are at zero and wait-lists in major urban centres have grown so large that many people have to wait for over a decade for a unit to become available.

Meanwhile, even as most people’s real incomes drop, speculation in the private housing market has elevated rents to absurd heights. The combination of the two factors, coupled with poor provincial rent control, has sent poverty and homelessness on an upward spiral. Housing has been transformed from a basic human need to a commodity that is bought and sold solely for maximizing profit.

Rather than deal with the crisis, the federal Liberals are playing tricks. In this year’s budget, the Trudeau government announced a plan to spend $11 billion on affordable housing. But as others have pointed out, the announcement is mere smoke and mirrors. First, the money will be spent over 11 years. Second, the spending plan is unjustifiably backloaded. In the two years the Liberals have left before the next election, they will spend less than 3% of that pledged amount, at best increasing existing social housing stock by 0.2%, and will allot a big fat $0 to renewing federal, provincial and territorial partnerships in housing. In keeping with the Liberal record, they promised a mountain but aren’t even delivering a mole hill.

Let’s not be fooled by this Liberal treachery. We all deserve decent affordable public housing and we must fight to win it. So this November 22, the National Housing Day, we are calling on groups across the country to join together and demand that the Liberals spend 100% of that $11.2 billion within their current mandate, on building and fixing social housing. We urge groups to endorse this call and organize local actions on November 22 that respond to the social housing needs in your communities. Our basis of unity is our resolve to win the following demands and a commitment to respect local autonomy of actions taken and tactics used.

We demand that the Trudeau Liberals:

  • Spend 100% of the $11.2 billion announced in the March 2017 budget within the next two years to respond to the crisis of social housing plaguing the country.
  • Renew federal subsidies to low-income tenants in existing social housing (co-op, nonprofit and public).
  • Build new social housing units with rent-geared-to income subsidies that are affordable to people living on social assistance and old age pension.
  • Eliminate homelessness and prioritize needs of those in precarious housing situations, especially marginalized groups including on and off-reserve Indigenous communities, recent immigrants, racialized communities, lone parent families and single seniors, women fleeing violence, disabled people, youth, people on social assistance, and the working poor.

Join us!

An invitation from:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)Ontario
Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU)Quebec
Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP)British Columbia

If you endorse this call to action and can organize an action locally, let us know by emailing us at ocap@tao.ca.

BBQ & Rally for Shelters & Housing

August2017BBQ
Saturday, August 19 | 12 noon | Allan Gardens, Sherbourne & Carlton
Free Food | Kids Welcome | Music | Facebook Event

The city tells us that emergency shelters aren’t the solution to homelessness and the escalating rates of homeless deaths, housing is. So shelters are kept underfunded and overcrowded. At the same time, the city is boarding up hundreds of public (Toronto Community Housing Corporation) housing units, at a time when the demand for them far outstrips supply. Thousands of families are facing displacement and thousands more languish on the subsidized housing waiting-list with wait-times that now stretch over a decade. Meanwhile market rents continue their upward spiral and upscale redevelopment projects continue pushing poor people out of the downtown core.

We intend to build a formidable fight capable of facing off against these marauding housing profiteers and their lackeys in government. These neighbourhoods are ours and we refuse to be pushed, priced or policed out! We demand the following:

  • Open 1000 new emergency shelter beds.
  • Stop the ongoing closure of TCHC units.
  • Protect the city’s stock of rooming houses.
  • Build decent, accessible, and affordable public housing now.

This summer has been an especially difficult one, we’ve lost a lot of people. Their lives have been lost not only to homelessness, but also to senseless policies of the so-called ‘war on drugs.’ So we come together, in the spirit of what Mother Jones once said, to mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living. Join us.

Bringing the Crisis of Homelessness to John Tory’s Door-Step

Is OCAP Really Being ‘Unfair?’

sleepout poster-SoUnfair

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.