ONTARIO COALITION AGAINST POVERTY
An Open Letter To Mayor John Tory, the Affordable Housing Committee, and City Council
Subject: Expropriation of 214-230 Sherbourne for the purpose of conversion into social housing as described in: A Community Driven Proposal for Public Housing: submitted by Open Architecture Toronto
Despite Toronto’s on-going homelessness disaster, a pandemic, the imminent threats of mass evictions being created by rent arrears / Bill 124, ongoing displacement by gentrification , 1.1% vacancy rates and rising rents we hear only silence on the housing proposal we submitted in 2019. Why? Our community is asking! Unsafe, homeless and precariously housed people are asking. Even worse- they are dying. Waiting for a home, or fighting not to lose one!
Are you aware of how your silence betrays and undermines our East End community’s efforts to obtain affordable housing? How do we explain the hypocrisy of your promises to create housing solution responses to homelessness and then witness you walking away from our community-driven Sherbourne St. Housing Development opportunity! Housing is not built on paper. It requires all kinds of spades in the ground.
The City of Toronto Act defines your responsibility; ‘’The City has the responsibility and authority to provide any service or thing that the City considers necessary or desirable to the public.”
We want to remind you that the City of Toronto Act gives it very specific power related to Expropriations. “The City has the power to acquire land under this or any other Act that includes the power to expropriate land in accordance with the Expropriation Act.“
There were 12 expropriations made in 2019. None of them was in support of housing.
The City can access valuable land. We have defined what is necessary for, and desirable for, the low-income public of our East End Community. But, the City of Toronto, which has the power to ex
propriate, does not use it. Why? There are vacant lands and abandoned buildings in neighborhoods all across this City, held for years by investors and developers in pursuit of real estate profits. Many of these holdings will never be used to serve the primary need of low- income communities for safety, health, and a home. Their focus is on housing for profit, and not housing as a human right. You have known this for years. We are compelled to observe that your support for profit focused condo developers is in perfect alignment with your negligence of low income and homeless people, who cannot find a place to live. We say. erve the people. All of the people.
We do not accept your current excuse, “The City has no standard policy to govern the acquisition / expropriation of properties for low income housing”. This is no reason to ignore the goal of building social housing. It closes the door on working with our community, or pursuing creative approaches. Pushing our proposal into the waiting rooms of Create Toronto and the Affordable Housing Office, may satisfy some highly paid bureaucrats that meaningful work is being done. But It does not satisfy us. Or resolve the need of our people for housing.
They are exhausted, running in a civic and government sponsored homeless marathon: it’s milestones – exclusion, poverty, disrespect, denial and betrayal. Do what is just and right.
EXPROPRIATE AND BUILD NOW!
Govern yourselves accordingly,
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty