Toronto cleared the Rosedale Valley homeless encampments and people are furious
The city of Toronto dismantled several makeshift homeless encampments in Rosedale Valley early this morning despite criticism and outrage from advocates.
The city announced intentions to sweep the encampments last month, citing safety concerns and giving 15 days warning to those living in tents and other structures under the bridge.
Recent fire being used as an excuse by City of Toronto to evict #homeless in Rosedale Valley. If city wants to minimize fire risks these should be provided to outreach agencies. Fire vessels. @metromorning @RafiInterfaith @c_shadowspaces @SHJNetwork @OCAPtoronto pic.twitter.com/ECX5z4qDrX— CathyCrowe (@cathyacrowe) January 7, 2020
Outreach workers were also sent to the area to try and build relationships and provide access to alternate services and accomodations for those being displaced by the dismantleing of the encampments.
Still, advocates have said the city's limited and overcrowded shelter system provides little-to-no options for those experiencing homelessness.
In an open letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory issued last week, members of the Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN) urged the city to reconsider their decision.
Stop clearing the tents!! The shelter’s are full. The rent is too expensive. We will fight for people to have space to exist. #JohnTory do the right thing. #HomesNotHostility #ServicesNotSweeps pic.twitter.com/QTOpqSHNEK— Greg C (@c_shadowspaces) January 3, 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," wrote homelessness advocates Rafi Aaron, Yogi Acharya, Cat Chhina, Greg Cook, Cathy Crowe and Bob Rose.
"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."
According to the city's latest statistics, on the night of January 6, Toronto's shelter system was at 94 per cent capacity.
Thank you @cathyacrowe, Yogi and @c_shadowspaces for defending the Rosedale encampment today and calling on government to safely house the homeless. Mayor @JohnTory, please call the emergency--I respectfully wrote you a song too: https://t.co/8PVJN4sqQK pic.twitter.com/t89xZogWp5— Salvatori (@IAmSalvatori) January 7, 2020
Despite advocates' efforts, Tory stood by his decision and defended them Monday.
"It is not safe and it is not appropriate to have people living in encampments, so we go about dismantling those in a very orderly fashion," he told reporters.
"The decisions are made by professional public servants and there is a lot of notice given."
As of this weekend there were about 15 people living under the bridges in the valley, according to city spokesperson Brad Ross. Only one person remained there by Monday evening and as of Tuesday morning, there were no longer any people camping out under the bridge in Rosedale Valley.
City crews begin cleaning up homeless encampments along Rosedale Valley Road. Piles of items have been left behind. One man searches for sharps in the debris. pic.twitter.com/YYgMrVpxEz— Linda Ward (@LindaWardCBC) January 7, 2020
"You must... focus City resources on adding sufficient shelter spaces and building publicly owned rent-geared-to-income housing," the SHJN's open letter states.
"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."
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