tiny shelters

City of Toronto forces carpenter to ultimately stop building tiny shelters for homeless

After ongoing trouble with the City of Toronto, carpenter Khaleel Sievwright has made the decision to concede, vowing to ultimately stop building tiny shelters for residents experiencing homelessness.

Seivwright's initiative to make temporary insulated homes for those without anywhere to escape the elements last winter was largely celebrated as a selfless act that helped to address the metropolis's ongoing housing and homelessness crises, and was life-changing for those who used them.

Despite the obvious support garnered for the project — shown through a crowdfunding campaign that raised nearly $300k to pay for materials — the city threatened Seivwright with legal action for the fact that the structures were illegally occupying public parks.

"The City of Toronto demands that you immediately cease the production, distribution, supply and installation of such shelters for the purposes of placement and use on city property. Should you fail to do so, the city may, among other remedies, hold you responsible for the costs of removal of such structures," reads a letter sent from Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation in November.

The communication ironically came shortly after Mayor John Tory proclaimed Nov. 22 as "National Housing Day" to recognize that "access to affordable and adequate housing is at the heart of a safe, healthy and prosperous community."

The carpenter-turned-advocate had initially stated that he planned to continue with his work, but was in February dealt a court injunction, with the city citing the high risk of fire among such structures as a top concern.

(Residents will recall that the city noted the fire and other safety issues again in its recent, very contentious evictions of tent encampment residents from local green spaces.)

Though he implored the city to drop the litigation against him and citizens protested the injunction, Seivwright shared on Sunday that he will not be proceeding with his efforts again this year, stating in a scathing Instagram post that he has come to an agreement with city officials.

"The city's practices of violently removing people living in encampments is a demonstrration of its fundamental mentality towards homeless people. The future of our city doesn't depend on ruthlessly enforcing policies that have no regard for the human beings who live here," he wrote to the 18.8k followers of his @torontotinyshelters account.

"It depends on cohesive, sustainable solutions that address the real issues... but it has been obvious that putting this problem out of sight has been the city's main concern."

Sievwright also revealed that the GoFundMe for the cause will be removed in the coming days.

But, though the tone of his missive is overwhelmingly discouraged, he does end it with the hope that others can pick up where he left off.

"It's late August now, and cold weather is only a few months away. Although the city decided to file an injunction against me, there is only one name on this application," the post, which has upwards of 5,300 likes at the time of publication, reads.

"I hope that others continue to do what they are inspired to do to support people living outside until the day comes when the people who run this city step up and do their job."

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