OCAP | OCAP Updates
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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HSF Case Victory & Community Advisory

This past week we successfully fought the denial of a Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) application that replicated past patterns of arbitrary decision making. The applicant contacted us after having their requests for last month’s rent, moving expenses and furniture denied. The decision letter cited the applicant being “current housed” as the reason for denial. It is absurd for a fund designed to “prevent homelessness” to deny emergency housing assistance to people on the basis that they aren’t yet homeless. It is also against the HSF’s administration policies which identify three criteria for the fund, two of which rely on the applicant being housed. In this case the applicant was seeking assistance to move to an apartment with lower rent.


Following OCAP’s intervention, the decision was reversed and the applicant was provided the full amount they were entitled to. But the case indicates applicant’s must be

In 2016 and 2017, we uncovered and exposed a series of problems in the administration of the fund through our report and subsequent actions. The fight resulted in substantial changes to the benefit (you can read our analysis of the changes here), one significant one being that after years of secrecy, the fund’s administrator – the Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS), was forced to release the HSF administration policy publicly. This greatly increased people’s ability to challenge unjust denials.

In summary, if your application for HSF is denied:

1. Check the HSF policy online to determine what you are entitled to.

2. Contact your local community legal clinic, or

3. Get in touch with us.

No Freedom to Hate: Resisting Racism

Thursday, July 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event

The resurgence of the far-right has intensified existing racism in society. Violence and hate crimes against Jews and Muslims have been particularly notable in their brazenness. The perpetrators of this hatred draw inspiration from, and in turn form the enthusiastic base of, politicians like Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Maxime Bernier and others.

Such politicians favour dog-whistles over explicit racism to signal their support for racist ideas while trying to remain acceptable to the broader public. The result is a bizarre reversal where the incitement of hate is justified as free speech and opposition to it is panned as intolerance.

Our best shot at defeating the escalating attacks on everything from our income, housing, to our very existence lies in unity. But in order to build it, we must understand how hate is being mobilized to grow division, recognize how it infiltrates our lives, and learn to challenge it effectively.

Speakers: Azeezah Kanji and Daniel Karasik

Azeezah is a legal analyst and writer based in Toronto. She is also the director of programming at the Noor Cultural Centre.

Daniel (they/them) is an organizer with IfNotNow Toronto, a group of mostly young Jews working to end the North American Jewish community’s support for the occupation in Israel/Palestine. Daniel is also a poet, performer, and co-founder/co-facilitator of the new network Artists For Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty (@acmjis on Twitter).

This event is part of OCAP’s monthly Speakers Series. It’s where we discuss issues critical to the success of poor people’s movements.

Launched: Development Proposal for 214-230 Sherbourne

Download Report | Media: CP24 | CTV | Toronto Star | CBC
Deputations to Planning & Housing Committee: Here & Here

We launched our community-driven development proposal for building public housing at 214-230 Sherbourne at city hall yesterday, July 3, 2019. The report that lays out the plan for building between 150 to over 260 units of rent-geared-to-income housing at the site can be downloaded here. The proposal is a product of a collaboration between OCAP, the Open Architecture Collaborative Toronto (OACTo), and allied academics, and activists. It’s design was informed by feedback provided by nearly 100 people in sessions organized in Regent Park, and at the All Saints church drop-in centre. The proposal can radically transform Dundas and Sherbourne into a vibrant community by including its most vulnerable residents, rather than at their expense.

It’s a vision we will fight for, join us.

        

A Development Proposal For 214-230 Sherbourne: Launch

Wednesday, July 3 | 9am | City Hall, Outside Committee Room 1 (2nd floor)
Toronto Star article
Press conference at 9am, deputations to Planning and Housing Committee at 9:30am

Following months of work, the collaboration between OCAP, the Open Architecture Collaborative Toronto (OACTo), and allied academics and activists has achieved its goal: creating a development proposal with the potential to radically transform Dundas and Sherbourne for the benefit of its most vulnerable residents, rather than at their expense.

Hand-scaled model of the development proposal.

Join us tomorrow to support the launch of the final report, to unveil the hand-scaled model of the proposed development, and to demand that council start by expropriating the properties.

The proposal lays out plans for building between 150 to over 260 units of publicly-owned rent-geared-to-income units to house poor and homeless people at 214-230 Sherbourne Street, a series of seven vacant properties steps from the southwest intersection of Dundas and Sherbourne. The final design for the site was informed by design feedback sessions organized in the Regent Park and the Dundas and Sherbourne area, with nearly 100 people offering feedback on four aspects of the development proposal: overall building form, ground floor programs, public space qualities, and domestic space qualities.

214-230 Sherbourne have been a historic part of Toronto’s poor and working class people living and dying at Dundas and Sherbourne. We will fight to make sure these properties will also be part of their future. Join us.

It Begins: Expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne

Thursday, June 13 | 1pm-3pm | 230 Sherbourne St.
Rally at Dundas & Sherbourne, followed by march to city hall.
Facebook Event | Lunch Provided

The housing crisis has a solution: the City must break ground to build new rent-geared-to-income housing. But it refuses to do so, even as people die homeless and properties lie vacant.

So join us for a ground breaking action at 214-230 Sherbourne, and then march with us to City Hall to reclaim the homes occupied by poor and working class people for generations.

214 – 230 Sherbourne are 7 adjacent properties located at the southwest corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. For 50 years, houses on this lot provided homes for poor people. 10 years ago, two of those houses were demolished, leaving just one 30-room house standing.

A decade later the lot remains empty and the house abandoned. The owners want to sell, but to private condo developers. That’s not housing poor people in the neighbourhood can afford. So the City must step in and take over those properties – expropriate them – and build social housing.

On June 13, we’ll start that process. 27 organizations have signed a letter calling on the city to expropriate. Join us.

Expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne: Community Planning

Thursday, May 16 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook Event | Download Flyer | Download Poster

The City can tackle homelessness by building rent-geared-to-income housing. At Dundas and Sherbourne, there is vacant land and we have a plan. We need your help in shaping it and your involvement in the fight to win it. Here are the details:

We’ve teamed up with planners and architects to create a model for public housing that can be built at 214-230 Sherbourne. With your help, we can finalize the design and fight for its implementation.

214 – 230 Sherbourne are 7 adjacent properties located at the southwest corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. For 50 years, houses on this lot provided homes for poor people. 10 years ago, 2 of those houses were demolished, leaving just one 30-room house standing.

A decade later the lot remains empty and the house abandoned. Meanwhile, the number of people left homeless in the area continues to swell. The neighbourhood desperately needs housing that poor people can afford.

27 organizations have signed a letter demanding the City acquire these properties. If the owners refuse to sell to the City, the City must take the properties over – expropriate them – to build social housing. Join us.

Doug Ford’s War On The Poor

Thursday, April 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Audio/Video Archive

The Ford government’s first budget came out on Thursday, April 11. It is bad news for the people. But the populist Premiere knows that bad news must be delivered with a smile, and confusing rhetoric.

So join us to make sense of how the budget will impact our lives, from education to healthcare to legal representation, to social assistance, and more.

Then let’s figure out how to build a resistance movement that can become Dougie’s worst nightmare.

Speakers:

Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition
Amina Vance, Students Say No
Jackie Esmonde, Income Security Advocacy Centre
Shelagh Pizey-Allen, TTC Riders
Kelly White, Street Health Overdose Prevention Site
John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Natalie Mehra is the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Amina Vance is a high school student and one of the lead organizers of the Ontario-wide student walkouts.

Jackie Esmonde is a staff lawyer with a legal aid clinic, the Income Security Advocacy Centre and a member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen is the executive direction of TTC Riders.

Kelly White volunteered with the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society and now serves as Coordinator of the Overdose Prevention Site at Street Health.

John Clarke has been active in anti-poverty struggles for over 40 years, and is a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

FAQ, For Dinner With A View

A response to some frequently asked questions about Dinner With A View:

Why are you doing the action on April 5?

We’re doing it because in our City homeless people living under the Gardiner with no heat are evicted. Meanwhile pop-up restaurants serving ritzy dinners in heated domes under that same highway are granted permits. Such brazenness begs a challenge and we’re happy to oblige.

Why take issue if the homeless camp wasn’t located at the Bentway?

There were multiple homeless camps under the Gardiner this past winter – from Jarvis in the east-end to Spadina in the west-end – and the City evicted them. For years, homeless people and advocates have also been calling for the City to open up the armouries as temporary shelter. The pop-up restaurant sits at the doorstep of the Fort York armoury.

Is the action unfair to the people who paid for a novel dining experience?

On the one hand you have homeless people whose tents were demolished and who were evicted with nowhere else to go. On the other hand you have people with sufficient disposable income to splurge over $550 on a single meal and who’re facing the possibility of their luxurious dining spectacle being tainted. The answer to who the situation is unfair to is clear.

Put another way, did the restaurant patrons personally evict the homeless from the under the Gardiner? No. Is their chichi dining experience close to where people people were often hungry and cold, crass? Yes. Do they deserve to be mocked for their obliviousness to the suffering around them? Absolutely.

But isn’t your beef with the City?

Yes, particularly with Mayor John Tory and his backers on Council who’ve allowed Toronto’s housing crisis to turn deadly. They deserve our wrath and we must demand that they build adequate emergency shelters and rent-geared-to-income housing.

Why not go to City Hall?

We have enough trespass tickets from City Hall to prove we go there often and have also slept-out outside one of Mayor Tory’s multi-million dollar homes. On Friday, April 12 at 1pm we’re going to Metro Hall to demand the City keep homeless respite sites open, expropriate a vacant property, and build rent-geared-to-income housing. We invite everyone to join us there too.

There are many fancy restaurants in Toronto, why single this one out?

You got us. Boorishness by the wealthy shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere. Our society desensitizes us to poverty and we accept outlandish things as normal. Luxury dining domes under the Gardiner would be a new frontier in this desensitization, and we intend to not cross it.