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.
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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.

Sleep Out at John Tory’s: Shelter Now!

sm SLEEPOUT POSTER for webSaturday, 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.

Throughout these dreadful months, Mayor John Tory and the bureaucrats at City Hall have refused to open additional space. Now, the warming centres and volunteer-run ‘Out of the Cold’ facilities will be closing for the year. There will be even fewer options available to people trying to survive on streets. The City must open enough new spaces immediately to ensure that the policy of not running the shelters above 90% occupancy is actually in effect. They must ensure that enough low barrier and harm reduction spaces are available so that people can actually access the shelter system.

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.

A Response to John Tory’s Continued Denial of the Homeless Shelter Crisis

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Last week, a twenty eight year old homeless indigenous man perished in Toronto, after staff at a drop in had to tell him that the facility was too overwhelmed to provide a place of shelter for the night.

For months, homeless people, advocates and service providers have been telling Mayor John Tory that the shelter system is hopelessly overcrowded and that a death was all but inevitable. We were so sure of this horrible reality in OCAP that we had a contingency plan to hold a memorial at Tory’s luxury condo in the event of a death. Last Sunday, we had to do just that.

Unbelievably, the response of the Mayor’s office to the tragedy has been to double down on the evasions. Rather than to open the federal armouries or some equivalent location, as the community had demanded, to try and save lives, Tory and his entourage have ducked and weaved to try and deflect the blame they can’t escape.

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