TORONTO – People staying in small wooden shelters built by a carpenter who was given a court order to stop the placement and relocation of structures on the city property are expressing support for the project.
Before moving to a city-run hotel room, Jennifer Jewell, 50, lived in one of Toronto’s Small Shelters for a month in the fall.
It was amazing, I spent three months living in a tent, said Jewell who lives with chronic pain. People are out and I think it is one of the safest options and I think the city should work with it.
Jewell said she lived in a bedroom for 20 years before her owners’ family took over the property and was forced to flee during the pandemic. After that she said she ended up in a toxic environment to live in, before moving to stay in Dufferin Grove Park.
Another 64-year-old woman who is currently staying at one of the shelters in Trinity Bellwoods Park said this has given her freedom, security from the elements and security. Shelters come with a lock, smoke alarm and fire extinguisher.
Carpenter Khaleel Seivwright saw a need for a temporary housing solution during the pandemic. He has provided small homes to people since at least October, as there have been more homeless people in the cold and some people are also worried about COVID-19 in the housing system.
The city of Toronto has identified 95 small shelters and said the structures and camps are considered illegal on city property. The city also said it has already asked Seivwright to stop their placement or relocation before taking legal action.
He talks about city park regulations and that it is illegal to throw or erect a structure of any kind, whether in a park, in a green space, like a boulevard for example. All residents of this city have the right to enjoy and have access to city parks, including people experiencing homelessness, spokesman Brad Ross told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday.
The city is also citing some security issues with the shelters.
Deaths from overdose due to epidemic opioid, they have no clean water, sanitation, food, medicine, addiction counseling, and so it would be safer inside, Ross said.
The city has added 27 campfires this year. Last year more than 250 an increase of 250 percent during 2019.
The city has now filed an injunction against Seivwright that will order it to permanently stop the placement or relocation of structures on city-owned land.
After raising more than $ 220,000 online and months of work, Seivwright said he wants the application order removed.
This is just a distraction. The problem is not the small shelter, the problem is that the most vulnerable people from Toronto are falling through the cracks, Seivwright said in a video statement.
Danny Kastner is a member of the Seivwrights legal team. He said his client is considering how to respond to the court order and has not yet vowed to stop the project, knowing he could face serious consequences.
They could range from a fine to completion to jail if, according to the courts, he disobeyed an order to stop, Kastner said.
Ross said the city is working to open more hotel rooms, which will provide support for people in need, and expects a site at the Novotel Esplanade to be available in the coming weeks.
Seivwright argues that instead of the city struggling with its housing, it should focus on accommodating people.
Ross told CTV News Toronto since April 2020, more than 1,300 people have received referrals inside and more than 3,200 people were permanently sheltered who were in shelters.
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