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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.

Toronto Star Piece: City is Ignoring Toronto’s Shelter Crisis

Jessica Hales, a member of OCAP, wrote about the shelter crisis in the Toronto Star today. She cuts apart the City’s claim that it is adding 200 more beds before winter:

First, the addition of new shelter beds is simply not keeping pace with shelter closures and the growing homeless population. It fact, only 30 of the 200 beds being “added” to the system are new beds. The rest include adding mats to a women’s drop-in and replacing 60 beds lost from the closure of the Hope Shelter and 100 beds closed during an infectious disease outbreak at Seaton House. This simply will not meet the city’s need, especially as people attempt to move indoors during winter.


For the full article, click here.

October 17: The Time is Now – March to Raise Social Assistance Rates


Rally & March to the Ministry of Community & Social Services
Tuesday, October 17 | 12 Noon | Toronto City Hall (Queen/Bay)
[Lunch Provided | Accessibility van on-site]
Join us at City Hall at noon, march will leave shortly thereafter.

On October 17, the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty, the Raise the Rates Coalition is calling everyone out on the streets for a march to demand an immediate raise to social assistance rates and an end to the punitive system of surveillance and degradation that shrouds the provision of income support.

After 14 years of Liberal rule, poor people in Ontario are worse off now than they were in the mid-nineties. Nearly a million unemployed and under-employed people are forced to eke out an existence on sub-poverty social assistance rates that forces on us the impossible choice between food, shelter, and caring for our families.

The record is telling. After refusing to reverse the Mike Harris cuts of the mid-1990s, the Liberals announced a “Poverty Reduction Strategy,” in 2008 which, after 5 years, failed miserably at meeting its targets. In 2014, they followed it up with another 5 year strategy to meet the same targets, but this time with no timelines attached. Meanwhile they initiated a ceaseless merry-go-round of social assistance reform commissions, reports, studies, consultations and, this year, a 3-year Basic Income Pilot, with even more studies, and consultations to follow. It’s clear that the only strategy being employed is one of deferring action, while dangling the promise of poverty reduction.

In addition to allowing inflation to eat into the meagre income of people on social assistance, the Liberals have cut millions of dollars in benefits. The elimination of the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit in 2013 alone resulted in a claw-back of at-least $275 million over the last 4 years. Left in the wake of that crucial benefit, used by thousands to meet emergency housing and health-related needs, is a mess of municipal funds – such as the Housing Stabilization Fund in Toronto – that have drastically reduced access to emergency funds and fueled homelessness.

History demonstrates that gains can only be won by poor people with political agitation and a threat to undo the status quo. Waiting for the Liberals to “reduce,” let alone end, poverty is more futile than rearranging the deck chair on the Titanic. We are willing to wait no longer and on October 17, we will build a fight that will win an immediate raise to social assistance. Join us!

October 19: OCAP Speakers Series: Canada 150 – Promise of Reconciliation or Ongoing Colonization?


Thursday, October 19 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm | CRC40 Oak Street
[Free Event with a meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens.] | Facebook Event

Why are indigenous people disproportionately poor and homeless? What are the frontlines of indigenous struggle today? How do we fight colonialism?

Join us as we discuss these and other questions that form the terrain of indigenous struggle for sovereignty and self-determination today.

Speaker: Denise Baldwin
Denise is the IDU Outreach Coordinator for the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy. The Oahas IDU program is unique, as it is the only IDU program that is Indigenous based in the entire province. For the past 8 years, she has had the pleasure, along with her peers, of building the program from the ground up. Denise has over 20 years’ experience working within the urban Indigenous and on reserve communities in several capacities. Denise currently resides in the Barrie area, and is a citizen of the Chippewa’s of NawashFirst Nation.

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.

Emergency Speak Out at the Peter Street Referral Centre

Wednesday, September 27 | 10am | 129 Peter Street
(
One block south of Queen and east of Spadina)

On Tuesday last week, the ongoing crisis of insufficient emergency shelter space for Toronto’s growing homeless population took a dangerous turn. The city-run Peter Street Referral Centre, a place of last-resort that tries to find shelter beds for homeless people, shut its doors at night even as people kept coming for help. On any given night up to 50 people are forced to spend the night in chairs and on the bare floors at the Centre, subsisting on cookies and juice, because shelters are overwhelmed and staff aren’t able to find them a bed. Last Tuesday, however, not only were there no beds to refer people to, there was no physical space left to let people into the building.

The situation at the Peter Street Referral Centre is reflective of the gross lack of shelter space for the city’s burgeoning homeless population; a fact that is also evidenced by the unprecedented demand for beds this summer, a season where sleeping rough doesn’t always equal death. The official nightly occupancy figures released by the City paint a bleak picture but actually understate the reality. The system is overwhelmed and at the point of breakdown. Even the two 24/7 drop-ins for women have been over-capacity and the location on Adelaide often has had to turn women away. With the shelters in this state and the cold weather looming ever close, it’s apparent that even the option of disgracefully cramming people into substandard out of the colds, warming centres and drop ins will fail to hold up under the strain.

Politicians and bureaucrats can no longer look away and underplay the problem. A system that has been horribly crowded and grossly inadequate is at the point of collapse. Shelter space must be opened. This Wednesday, advocates and people on the front lines will gather at the Referral Centre to speak to the urgency and enormity of the shelter crisis and demand action by City Hall. At least 1000 new shelter beds must be opened to meet the current demand, and in the interim, facilities like gymnasiums and the armories that meet basic shelter standards must be opened up to provide immediate respite to the homeless.

Join us!