For the thousands of homeless people living in Toronto, winter is the most challenging and dangerous season. The heavy snow crushed the tent, and cold rain leaked from the tent, damaging the property and submerging the sleeping mat.
When Khaleel Seivwright was investigating the housing crisis in the city last fall, he hoped his carpentry background would help. Within a few weeks, his cabin began to appear in the city park.
However, the story of a carpenter has a mild structure and represents housing inequality in Canada̵
The tragedy and the city’s response angered advocacy groups, who argued that the authorities were taking legal action against Safewright but failed to resolve long-term problems in the public housing system.
Roland Lin, an outreach worker in Toronto, said: “They are insulting people who are actually doing work they can’t do.” “This is totally unfair.”
Over the years, as the demand for accessible housing far exceeds the supply, the city’s homelessness crisis has become more serious. More than 10,000 people have no access to housing, and this number may increase throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The city has stated that there is enough space in homeless shelters, but outreach workers such as Lin said that these facilities are usually full or considered unsafe. As the coronavirus pandemic adds another layer of risk, residents often make the difficult decision to not be able to sleep outside.
At the end of 2020, as winter approaches, Seivwright tries to help. He started using donated materials and funds to build small portable structures. Each unit takes eight hours and is equipped with fiberglass insulation, fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and locks. The production cost is nearly 1,000 Canadian dollars (786 US dollars).
As news of his project spread, the carpenter was quickly overwhelmed by donations and raised more than 200,000 Canadian dollars.
For those who use the Seivwright Shelter, they represent a warmer and safer option than withstanding severe winters.
A resident who lives in a small house said: “Compared with being on a bench in a park or in a tent or other places outside, this basically saved my life.” “I think this is possible in this city at the moment One of the best things that happened… Without it, people would lean to the left, to the right and to the center.”
City officials believe that these small structures have safety hazards. In November, officials wrote to Seivwright, asking him to “stop production, construction, distribution, supply and installation of shelters,” adding that he would bear all relocation costs.
An online petition has received more than 80,000 signatures to protest the city’s reaction.
But on February 12, the city escalated and filed an application for an injunction that would prevent Saferight from building, fixing and relocating small wooden bunkers on city-owned land on the grounds that these bunkers are unsafe.
A few days later, a fire killed a person inside the wooden structure. City officials who have not released the cause of the fire or found the victim did not disclose whether the structure was made by Seivwright, but still announced that it would seek to enforce the injunction.
City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross told The Guardian: “These structures are illegal and illegal.” He said that New York City increased its overflow capacity when needed and adopted Measures to ensure the safety of shelters during the pandemic. “The city’s position is that the inside is safer than the outside.”
Seivwright pleaded with the city to abandon the lawsuit against him, believing that the money to hunt him could be better distributed.
There is a housing crisis in the city of Toronto. The epidemic made the situation worse. “The city did not cooperate with me, but sued to prevent me from constructing and relocating these miniature shelters. The problem is not a small shelter. The problem is that Toronto’s most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks. “
For housing advocates, Safewright’s work shows that the crisis is more widespread throughout the city, in which residents who need long-term housing cannot find housing. Last year, 74 shelter residents died, the worst year on record. Their average age is 50 years old.
“None of us are here to celebrate people living in cabins. Lin said, but literally, this is people’s last choice. He added that the waiting time for subsidized housing in one-bedroom apartments can reach 12 years. “People only They want housing, and they are actually waiting for housing. “