OCAP | Events
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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Defend Tenants of the Inglewood Arms

Monday, Jan 27 | 9 am | 655 Bay Street (one block south of Bay/Gerrard)
Rally at 9am, then pack the hearing room (15th floor) at 10am
Facebook event

The Inglewood Arms is a licensed rooming house with approximately 90 tenants. It’s located close to Jarvis and Dundas. It has housed poor and working class people for over 30 years. Now, a real estate behemoth – Minto – wants to tear it down and build a 36 storey condo.

The City has not yet approved the application, but tenants are already feeling pressured to move out. Not willing to cave in the midst of a deadly housing crisis, they are fighting back. We are supporting them.

Join us this Monday, Jan 27 at 9 am for a rally and press conference at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to launch a fight that will take on the landlord, the City and the developer.

Here is the brief on the three fronts:

The Landlord: The landlord argues the Residential Tenancies Act does not apply to tenants at the Inglewood. The Act protects renters rights; claiming it doesn’t apply allows the landlord to evict tenants with no process. A tenant of 10 years at the Inglewood has appealed to the Landlord and Tenant board to get a determination that the Act does in fact apply. The hearing is in March.

The City: The City is currently in negotiations with the developer. Our message is clear – no compromises with tenants’ lives. Tenants must be guaranteed housing in the new development and adequately compensated for the interim displacement.

Minto: Minto is fighting the City’s rooming house protection policy at the provincial Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. If Minto wins, it will be a setback for tenants at all rooming houses across the City. On Monday, Jan 27 an Inglewood tenant will formally seek to be part of the hearings. This will be a launch of the fight to defend the tenants of Inglewood, and of rooming houses around the City. Join us at 9am for the rally and then help us pack the hearing room!

Open Letter to Mayor Tory: Call Off the Homeless Sweeps

The letter below was issued by the Shelter and Housing Justice Network on Friday, January 3, 2020. There will be a press conference to address the situation on Monday, January 6 at Noon at Lawren Harris park (Rosedale Valley Rd & Park Rd).

Dear Mayor John Tory,

The Parks, Forestry and Recreation department has said it will be dismantling homeless encampments in the Rosedale valley on January 7, 2020.

There is no justification for these sweeps in the midst of a deadly shortage of shelter space in the city. People are camped outside in the bitter cold because the housing crisis rages on unchecked and the City’s shelter system is overwhelmed. Conditions within these emergency centres are difficult and often unsafe because of chronic overcrowding, short-staffing and a general lack of necessary resources. The private market is such that even those able to access the housing allowance find it impossible to find a place to rent.

Forcibly dismantling homeless encampments – be they under the Gardiner or in the Rosedale valley – is nothing more than an attempt to make homelessness invisible rather than addressing the problem. In the absence of adequate shelter or housing, the encampments just rise up once again. Despite having seen this time and again, the administration continues to subject homeless people to the ritualized humiliation and hardship of being displaced and having their belongings confiscated, only to then be informed that the emergency system is full.

You must call off these brutal sweeps, starting with the one planned for January 7, and focus City resources on adding sufficient shelter spaces and building publicly owned rent-geared-to-income housing. That’s the only way to make sure no one has to resort to sleeping under bridges and in the ravines of this wealthy city. Our network will be mobilizing around the upcoming sweep and will challenge attempts at evicting people that your administration has effectively abandoned to the streets.

Sincerely,

Rafi Aaron, Interfaith Coalition to Fight Homelessness
Yogi Acharya and Cat Chhina, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Greg Cook, Sanctuary Outreach
Cathy Crowe, Street Nurse
Bob Rose

on behalf of the Shelter and Housing Justice Network

At Full Capacity: Homelessness and Resistance

Thursday, November 21 | 6pm-8pm | CRC40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access, and tokens]
Facebook Event

Film Screening & Discussion

On November 11th Toronto endured its first winter storm. With shelters at capacity, many were left out on the streets in below freezing temperatures. Community members and organizers immediately pushed the city to open Metro Hall as a warming centre.

The city is failing to respond to the shelter and housing emergency, and the number of homeless deaths is on the rise.

Together we have the power and must push back. We will fight to win the basic shelter and housing we need. Join us.

Discussion on resistance and fight back to follow the film screening.

Film: The Public (2019) With emergency shelters at full capacity and a brutal winter storm on the way, a group of Cincinnati homeless men refuse to leave the public library. Demanding shelter from the extreme cold, they stage a sit-in and occupation.

Vigil Outside the Peter Street Referral Centre

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 | 5:30 PM | East of Richmond & Spadina
Light Meal Provided | Facebook Event

Homeless People Die as Referral Centre Turns People Away
Vigil Outside The Peter Street Referral Centre
129 Peter Street |

Shelters and respite centres are failing to meet the needs of the homeless in the midst of the City’s worsening housing crisis. This summer shelter occupancy rates have exceeded the highs of last winter and even respite sites, which provide cots, chairs or mats on the floor for people to sleep on are at capacity. The Peter Street referral centre is intended to be a last resort for those in need of a shelter bed. On a nightly basis dozens of people are forced to spend the night in chairs and on the floor in the centre’s waiting area because there is nowhere to refer people to. When the waiting area is packed to capacity others who have travelled to the centre in hopes of securing safe shelter are being turned away and told to come back later.

On October 5th the body of Kevin Dickman was pulled out of the Don River. Despite repeated efforts and extensive support, he was unable to access shelter or a safe space to go. We do not know why Kevin was by the Don River. We do know that the shelters are full and for many who are homeless or in crisis there is nowhere to go and no hope for housing. The outcome of the shelter and housing crisis is tragic and deadly. Kevin is only one of many lives we are losing to homelessness.

The shelter system is already at a breaking point and as the winter approaches the need will only intensify. The abandonment of homeless people this winter will have deadly consequence.

On November 7th community members will gather at a vigil to remember lives lost to homelessness and demand that the City immediately:

-Open 2000 shelter beds to replace the inadequate accommodations provided in respite sites and meet the growing need for safe shelter

-Publicly call on the Provincial and Federal governments for urgent assistance to begin the immediate construction of social rent-geared-to-income housing

Join us.

Build Solidarity: Rally For Dundas & Sherbourne

Thursday, October 24 | 6pm-7:30pm | Dundas and Sherbourne
Meal Provided | Facebook Event

The downtown east belongs to all its residents. The healthcare and homeless services here serve a critical need for the area’s poor people and save lives. But some wealthier neighbours, organized through the local residents’ association, are agitating for their closure and are opposed to any new services opening. The resulting tensions are turning the neighbourhood, and Dundas and Sherbourne in particular, into a battleground.

Toronto’s deadly housing crisis and severe shelter shortage are responsible for escalating homelessness. Attacking the people suffering its worst consequences or the services they rely on doesn’t solve the issue. It only shows a vicious disregard for poor people’s lives.

We can build a vibrant neighbourhood by choosing solidarity over bigotry. United, we can fight to turn 214-230 Sherbourne into affordable rent-geared-to-income housing, build adequate shelters, and expand health services for all.

Join us for a rally to demonstrate that solidarity and build the fight for housing and shelter.

Resisting Revitalized Bigotry in the Downtown East

Thursday, October 17 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access, and tokens]
Facebook Event

Toronto’s downtown east is changing rapidly. The historic Regent Park social housing is being reduced to rubble and the “mixed-income” imagination of politicians is coming alive. Towers with a combination of ownership condos and rental units for former social housing tenants have risen, with more on the way.

Mitchell Cohen, the president of Daniel’s Corporation, sold his company’s revitalization plan as one that would make “tenants and owners feel at home with each other and in their community.” But the residents of Daniel’s new building at Parliament and Dundas installed spikes on the large tree planters downstairs. Neighbours and passerby’s would sit around those planters to rest, drink coffee or have conversations. Now they can’t.

Not far away, Dundas and Sherbourne has turned into a battleground. Residents who control the Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association want to shut down a health centre and respite site that serve the homeless at that corner. They don’t want poor people in crisis in the area. The City responded with more police, the Province cut funding for the overdose prevention site, the health centre put up a fence, and the respite site cut its capacity. Not satisfied, the Association now collaborates with Toronto Sun’s Sue Ann Levy who writes articles denigrating poor people as dirty, drug-addicted and dangerous.

Area residents have two choices: we either build solidarity or escalate hostility. We invite all those who choose the former to join us to discuss how we can do so.

Speakers: Gaetan Heroux and A.J. Withers

Gaetan Heroux has worked in the downtown east for over three decades, a longtime organizer with OCAP, and co-author of Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History.

A.J. Withers is an longtime OCAP organizer and author of stillmyrevolution.org, and two books: Radical Disability Politics and Theory and A Violent History of Benevolence.

No Food For You: Ford’s Attack On Ontario’s Children

Thursday, September 26 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access, and tokens]
Facebook Event

On November 1, Doug Ford’s government will eliminate food and clothing allowance for 32,000 of Ontario’s poorest children. The cut is a result of the cancellation of the Transition Child Benefit, which provides parents on social assistance up to $230 per month per child to take care of their kids. For a single parent with two kids on Ontario Works, the cut represents a loss of 30% of their already sub-poverty income.

Ford says he’s cutting the benefit because only people on social assistance get it. That’s like closing soup kitchens because only the poor use them. The cut is about scaling back Ontario’s social safety net and expanding the pool of workers in vulnerable situations who are forced to accept rock bottom wages and bad working conditions created by Ford’s corporate pals. It will also strip children seeking refuge in Canada of critical income support.

This government is prepared to subject Ontario’s poorest parents and children to hunger and destitution to further its goals. Ford’s viciousness will only escalate unless it met with serious opposition. Let’s build it, join us.

Speaker: Jackie Esmonde, Income Security Advocacy Centre

Jackie Esmonde is a staff lawyer at the Income Security Advocacy Centre, a member of OPSEU Local 5118, and a member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne: Outdoor Film Screening

Friday, Aug 23 | 8:30pm | 230 Sherbourne St.
Dinner Provided | Facebook Event

OCAP is fighting to stop the sale of 214-230 Sherbourne – a series of 7 vacant properties at the southwest corner of Dundas and Sherbourne – to condo developers. Instead, we’ve proposed a plan that would build between 150 to 260 units of public-owned rent-geared-to-income housing on that land. The fight won’t be easy, but we can take inspiration from battles of the past and present.

So join us for an outdoor summer movie screening, complete with dinner and popcorn, at the site as we feature short films that profile resistance that stopped evictions and forced the City to build public housing.

Note: The event will be postponed in case of rain.