Thanks for the comment @al_booth Let’s first talk about how the city’s plan is inadequate, and then further discuss what our recommendations for the city have been for months, and what we promote as a network. 1
The city’s winter plan accommodates space inside for 560 people. This includes congregate settings- a respite called the Better Living Centre which holds 100 people, at a time when we are told not to gather outside our households & COVID transmission through aerosol is proven. 2
We know people who have accepted that BLC offer and have returned to encampments because they couldn’t stand the conditions. Cold showers, lack of privacy, the chaos of a respite was not suitable for them. Those who refuse the BLC often cite COVID as the reason.
The other option from the city is called the City Plaza shelter hotel and it’s at Jane & Wilson. It’s run by Costi. For many people in the encampments we serve it would take 1.5- 2 hours to get there from their current community by transit. 4
They would be far from their families, community, medical services (including life saving harm reduction services). Many people we know have moved into shelter hotels & have left or been kicked out. Ppl are all different but many say it reminds them of being in prison. 5
So the options are not suitable for some. A rly important thing that people don’t realize is that the city says there are around 500 ppl who are homeless. We know in encampments alone there are over 1000, and this doesn’t include ppl sleeping in stairwells, on grates, etc. 6
So the city’s plan is not expansive enough to give everyone an indoor space, even if they did want to take it. And surely there are ppl who do want the city’s option, but certain encampments are targeted for removal and displacement. We’ll talk about why later. 7
We have been asking the city to make an adequate plan for winter . Our demands for the city months ago were as follows. We deputed & talked & demonstrated. 8
Did not happen.... So let’s talk about why certain encampments are targeted for clearing. 9
The encampments that the city targets for clearing are the ones that are visible, the ones in neighborhoods where housed ppl call 311- the ones in ppl’s communities, where gentrification has made it unaffordable to stay housed. Moss Park, Holy Trinity Church, Scadding, LNP.. 10
These are places where people in encampments have made their own communities. We always support the right of ppl to choose what works for them. Sometimes that means accepting the city’s offer & sometimes It means supporting encampment residents in winterizing their set ups. 11
And yes it’s grim. It doesn’t feel good staring down the barrel of winter and helping people to prepare to stay outside when we know there are indoor spaces, apartments the city could give people, rent subsidies. We see death due to OD & medical neglect all the time. 12
There is a lot of grief and loss and we are fearful of what is to come. And it is because of this that we are helping prepare for winter because that’s what our neighbours outside ask for. They are the experts in their own experience. 13
We are doing clothing drives and assisting people in finding ways to winterized their tents. We do builds of these pods - as Maudy details, ppl like them. They have CO monitors, vents, LED lights. They are not highly flammable and reduce the need for a flame or heater. 14
And let’s remember In case we get accused of “enabling” the fact remains even if we didn’t fight alongside the encampment residents to self determine, there are hundreds of people who won’t have an indoor space to stay this winter because the city doesn’t have space...15
And what we argue is that if people have been living in community outside, and KNOW that the BLC is not an option for them they should be supported with survival gear. This is actually a recommendation Ontario’s chief coroner in the Faulkner Inquest of 2018. 16
In fact @kristynwongtam and @m_layton worked to pass recommendations at City hall a few weeks ago to pass out safety & survival gear. It was passed.
Behold- this is what the city was giving out to ppl using the foam domes. No fire extinguishers despite the bold claims. 17
ESN's full statement about the foam domes, is forthcoming. But we're not the only people building them anyway. Stay tuned. 18
So anyway, @al_booth what really puts people at risk of freezing outside is the city's lack of RGI housing, & the aggregate of their policies & practices that push ppl out of sight, into ravines & away from their community supports. Not advocates and community volunteers.

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