People stage die-in at Toronto mayor’s office to protest homeless deaths
The 1000th name was added to an unofficial memorial for homeless residents of Toronto today, prompting activists to confront Mayor John Tory about what they consider to be a crisis in the city.
Today we will add the 1000th name to Toronto’s homeless memorial, which remembers those who have died as a result of homelessness. Just as we grieve for those we’ve lost, we also demand action. Chronic homelessness is not inevitable. We can end it, if we act. pic.twitter.com/kJRnDWAKnY— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) January 14, 2020
Following a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Trinity to commemmorate the lives lost, demonstrators staged a "die-in" at City Hall this afternoon, situating themselves in various positions on the floor of Tory's office to protest the city's inaction in the face of a growing number of homeless deaths.
One thousand body cutouts were also scattered while the group read out the names of those who have died unsheltered on Toronto's streets and demanded that the mayor declare the state of homelessness in the city as an emergency.
Some present noted that a number of the names on the list were sadly listed as John or Jane Does, having died unidentified.
Really sad to be attending the homeless memorial today when the 1000th name is added. Among those names is my brother Brad in 2015 and friend Pops in 2019. Both are flanked by John and Jane Does - those who die nameless and unidentified in Toronto.— Leigh Chapman (@LeighChappy) January 14, 2020
The demonstrators are part of a group that has launched a formal petition for the cause. It has garnered more than 25,000 signatures since its inception two months ago.
Survival takes so much energy, there is nothing left. We have caused this but we can also prevent it. 1000 names on a homeless memorial in a rich city like Toronto. Show up today at noon and please sign this petition: https://t.co/LtbcBK0uKd— Leigh Chapman (@LeighChappy) January 14, 2020
It is estimated that there are currently more than 9,200 experiencing homelessness in Toronto — a number driven by a lack of affordable housing, the economy and a number of systemic barriers, among other things.
Waiting lists for social housing have grown to hover around 100,000 names long, while Toronto Public Health cites that more than 100 homeless die per year. Most of the city's 64 shelters — which offer a total of 6,900 beds — are filled near or to capacity each night, and respite centres and warming centres often aren't equipped to handle the overflow.
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