rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

National movement launched to end homelessness

No names were added to the homeless memorial on Tuesday. So nobody died last month, right? Not necessarily.

Even if there were no homeless deaths last month, things are definitely not getting better for homeless people in Toronto or across the country. 

Or so it seems.

“Usually what I do each month is bring you bad news,” says Michael Shapcott, housing and anti-poverty activist.

“And there’s lots of bad news I could talk about this month for those that want their bad news fix.”

Every month people gather on the second Tuesday outside the Church of the Holy Trinity to remember those who’ve died on the streets. 

And in their memory they recommit themselves to the struggle to fight for accessible and affordable housing for all.

Not an easy thing to do when both the federal and provincial governments continue to announce cuts to their affordable housing budgets.

“So there is, sadly, plenty of bad news,” he says.

But a glimmer of hope remains.

Last Thursday, The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness was officially launched in Calgary to build a national movement to end homelessness.

Many remember the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, a national movement formed in 1998 at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

“Over a decade, that movement had a very powerful impact at the national level, in many provinces and in many cities across the country,” says Shapcott, who hopes the new movement will produce similar results.

“We know what the solutions are to end homelessness and we know what needs to be done.”

One of those solutions sits a few blocks west of the Church of the Holy Trinity where the biggest non-profit housing project ever built in Canada occupies a city block and has 300 affordable apartments for single low-income women, women with children, women living with mental health and addiction issues and families of Aboriginal ancestry.

Shapcott hopes that housing project will be duplicated in cities and towns across Canada.  

While the national movement gains momentum, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) was given a chance to protect its affordable housing portfolio after City Council voted against a proposal by the TCHC Board to sell many of its homes.

Not a good idea when the wait list for affordable housing is at an all time high.

In contrast, Dan and Alice Heap sold their Kensington Market row house in 1993 for exactly what they paid for it 20 years earlier to an organization that provides housing for refugees. 

Sadly, Alice died on March 24.

She was a social justice activist who, along with her husband, worked tirelessly around affordable housing and poverty issues for decades.

“Her housing advocacy work went way back,” says Cathy Crowe, street nurse and poverty activist. “She saw the need for it whether it was for refugees or families.”

The couple were regular fixtures at the monthly homeless memorial vigils, even after their health deteriorated.

“Alice would want us to keep on fighting,” says Crowe.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.