People without housing need serious engagement from all levels of government. Please write to the Premier, Prime Minister and Mayor. A handwritten letter or card carries a lot of weight and we heartily encourage them, but urgency suggests that sending an email or calling is worthwhile. CC’ing your local MPP, MP, and Councillor is a great idea and may get a better response. It doesn’t have to be long or detailed, but please appeal for safe individual housing and an end to encampment clearing (the CDC guidance in Dr. Bezanson’s letter below is serious).
Your expressions of concern and reminders that people are watching mean a lot. Sample letters and emails, phones, and addresses below.
Please add your voice. No one loves encampments, but until we have safe housing they are the safest option.
Dear Mayor Tory
I was shocked just now to hear that there is a plan to evict the renters from the space around our church, Holy Trinity, as well as from Moss Park. And without warning and with no alternative housing being offered. Where are these people expected to go?
I want to believe that you do not countenance this draconian move, and will do what you can as Mayor to have it stopped.
The Rev. Jim Houston
Honorary Assistant Priest
Church of the Holy Trinity
We learned this morning through Streets to Homes staff that the Parks Department will clear all homeless encampments in Moss Park and Trinity Square and other locations in the coming week, without prior notice or date given, and without another suitable option for individuals to be moved to. I am extremely surprised to hear about this as we are facing sub zero temperatures, a mounting COVID-19 second wave, and expected further restrictions on service provision.
This action to clear the parks of encampment communities will cause a massive destabilization and lead to havoc in our downtown core. We have been working for several weeks to create suitably warm and safe arrangements for people camping in Trinity Square to prevent injury from cold weather. Meanwhile, in attempting to access shelter or shelter-hotel spaces for individuals- which we do daily- none have been available in the past month’s period. An eviction would mean that the many individuals living in our parks will have to move further from the network of support that they depend on, creating increased vulnerability to their health. Streets to Homes workers have been going from tent to tent to inform people of this upcoming clearing, which has created its own chaos as people are left with a total unknown to what will come.
Please, if you have contacts like City Councillors, agencies, etc. share this with them and express your feelings about this imminent threat to the well-being of our community.
Community Director, Holy Trinity
Dear Mayor Tory and Dr. de Villa,
I am writing as a physician, concerned citizen, and parishioner at Church of the Holy Trinity Toronto to ask you to immediately stop any plans to clear the encampments that are currently home to many experiencing homelessness in our city.
There are many reasons I could cite, but as a physician I implore you to listen to the guidance provided by CDC on this matter (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html). To quote:
“If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.
- Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.“
I can tell you that the encampment at Holy Trinity has been a safe space where people have been able to receive PPE, testing, medical assessment, influenza vaccination, pre-natal care, harm reduction, mental health support and much else in the way of public health engagement. It is also a community of support fostering connection to other forms of assistance, including access to safe housing, in ways that respect the rights of homeless individuals and communities to not be re-traumatized by our institutions.
I believe you are working for the safety and health of ALL our citizens. Clearing the encampments will undermine this objective. Do not squander this crucial opportunity to respond with both intelligence and compassion. Work with us.
Dr. Kevin Bezanson MD, CCFP(PC), MPH
Premier Doug Ford
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
If after sending some letters, you’d like to offer direct support, you can find a list of needs at the encampment on Trinity Square here.
The best and worst for homeless people during this year’s pandemic — Cathy Crowe, Rabble.ca
Recovery for All – https://www.recoveryforall.ca/
Bishop of Toronto speaks to the housing crisis — Andrew Asbil, Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada
Abundance – A sermon on the present moment – Zachary Grant, Holy Trinity