Toronto Community Housing will board up roughly 425 homes this year because the money needed to carry out basic repairs has not been provided. Things are expected to get much worse next year and 7,500 homes are at risk of closure by 2023, with an additional 17,500 in critical condition. Read the CBC and Toronto Star‘s coverage of the issue.
As they close down vitally needed public housing, there are an astounding 177,000 people on the waiting list, with low vacancy rates and soaring rents shutting tenants out of the private market. At the same time, hundreds of Regent Park residents are at risk of not being able to return to their homes because funding to proceed with the third stage of the ‘revitalization’ of their community is not available. In this situation, the City’s homeless shelters are full to overflowing, with people forced to sleep on the streets, even in the depths of winter.
As the developers throw up ever more overpriced condos, the basic right to decent affordable housing is denied to tens of thousands of people. When we demand that City Hall adhere to its own policy and reduce shelter occupancy to a maximum level of 90%, the politicians and bureaucrats tell us that housing, and not shelters, are the solution. The obvious reality is that you can’t have a ‘housing first’ approach if you are not providing any housing and you certainly can’t do it if you are boarding up the inadequate supply of homes you could put people into.
With the shelter crisis at desperate levels and Mayor John Tory refusing to deal with the situation by opening up the federal armouries for the homeless, OCAP will soon be announcing action to bring the issue home to him and place the demand for shelter and real housing solutions before him.