homeless shelter toronto

Craigslist apartment ad skewers Toronto's response to the affordable housing crisis

"Live your best with 360 degree views," reads a newly-posted Craigslist ad for rental housing in Toronto.

"This charming and cozy 1 bedroom situates you in the historic and vibrant Exhibition Place neighbourhood. Open concept design, very stylish concrete floors, floor to 'half' ceiling windows, LEED certified, singles lifestyle."

Text alone makes it sound perfect, save for the price: $2,500 per month for 20 square feet of private living space.

An attached photo lets viewers who've been following an important local news story in on the joke: It's a send up of the City of Toronto's plan to accommodate individuals experiencing homelessness this winter — one that advocates say is woefully inadequate, as illustrated by images of one major shelter released on Monday:

The city has been using the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place as a shelter during the dangerously-cold months since December of 2017.

With a global pandemic in the mix, however, some things have had to change.

The capacity of roughly 100 people remains the same, but now, shelter inhabitants won't sleep side-by-side. Rather, they'll all be divided by transparent plastic partitions, which may help curb the spread of germs but provide zero privacy and make the entire place look like a dystopic holding centre.

Photos of the newly-redesigned shelter began circulating on Twitter earlier this week, prompting harsh criticism from local affordable housing advocates.

Likening it to a Foucaultian panopticon, the Toronto Drop-In Network (TDIN) called the Better Living Centre set-up to a "glass cage 100-bed congregate shelter... not a saleable living environment."

The coalition of 51 drop-in centres across Toronto included a link to the Craigslist ad mentioned above that is currently circulating like wildfire on Twitter for its dark and poignant humour.

"Avoid the hustle and bustle of parks enforcement, policing, and private security constantly moving you on in this full service unit, with 24hr security/concierge," reads the mock apartment listing.

"Convertible, Canadian brutalist style day bed included in unit — very desirable!"

While nobody has come forth as the listing's creator, it's already been shared by some of Toronto's most-respected homeless advocates and industry professionals.

It's funny, but it's also highlights something that people in Toronto probably need to pay more attention to: The fact that human beings are being put into glass cages because they have few other options but to die in sub-zero temperatures.

Lead photo by


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