As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to deepen housing injustices and homelessness across Toronto, Social Planning Toronto celebrates National Housing Day with hope and determination.
It was on November 22nd,1998 that the Big City Mayors Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities endorsed the declaration of homelessness as a national disaster made by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, a housing advocacy group.
More than two decades later, homelessness persists and continues to have devastating impacts on our friends, neighbours and communities. Now every year on November 22nd housing advocates, stakeholders and residents come together to demand an end to homelessness and housing precarity.
Social Planning Toronto has long advocated on housing issues.
- Our community planners have provided leadership and support on several housing advocacy initiatives in collaboration with our community partners: Jane Finch Housing Coalition, Power In Community: Fighting for Affordable Homes, Voices of Scarborough, Flemingdon Thorncliffe Inter-Agency Network, and Lawrence Heights Inter-Organizational Network.
- Through SPT-supported and community-led consultations, 600 residents in Jane Finch, Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, and Scarborough provided valuable input into the Housing TO Action Plan 2020-2030.
- Our community engagement work has been crucial in applying pressure on the City to revise its definition of affordable housing, legalize rooming houses across all of Toronto, and commit to several key actions to improve housing equity in Toronto.
- Just this week SPT released research reveals the racial, social, and geographic divides of Toronto’s housing crisis. Spaces and Places Of Exclusion: Mapping Rental Housing Disparities for Toronto’s Racialized And Immigrant Communities make clear that Toronto’s housing crisis is not only a public health concern, but also an equity issue that has disproportionate impacts on racialized and immigrant Torontonians.
- We have also been a strong voice on the advancement of inclusionary zoning as a key policy tool to guarantee the development of affordable housing.
- Affordable housing and homelessness has been a recurring feature of our annual research and convening on the Toronto City Budget. We have worked tirelessly with residents to make affordable housing a priority, to hold the City accountable to commitments made, and to bring to light the nuanced issues around safety, adequacy and access.
National Housing Day actions
While significant strides have been made in the fight to end homelessness and achieve housing justice, more needs to be done.
The housing and homelessness crisis will only end with the collective pressure of us all. The second wave of COVID-19 has approached more rapidly than expected and frigid winter weather is just around the corner. The time is now for all three levels of government to come together, to meet the immediate housing needs of all residents in our city, province and country, and take concrete steps to ending homelessness once and for all.
You have an important role to play. Here are a few things you can do right now to support this work:
- Join one of the many actions today for National Housing Day: Toronto Day of Action, coordinated by the Shelter & Housing Justice Network @SHJNetwork.
- Share your support and add your voice to the conversation on Twitter using #NationalHousingDay.
- Sign this petition from the Jane Finch Housing Coalition demanding housing justice for Jane-Finch residents and all low-income residents.
- On Monday, Nov. 23rd at 11am, join the virtual National Housing Day Press Conference hosted by @SHJNetwork on Facebook.
- Contact your City Councillor, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) or Member of Parliament (MP) to ask them what they will do to achieve housing equity and end homelessness.
- Follow these active coalitions and community groups, made up of residents and community organizations, working together to achieve housing equity in Toronto: