Residents of the Yonge and Eglinton area raise questions about a city map to temporarily house the homeless in two downtown apartments on Broadway Avenue during the COVID-19 crisis.
“This development took us by surprise,” said a letter obtained by NOW from the Republic Residents ’Association. The letter includes questions that the association, which represents two buildings, plans to ask city officials, including the frequency of resident turnover and whether self-isolation and physical distance will be applied.
“While we recognize that there are many admirable aspects of this initiative and agree with its principle, we nevertheless have serious concerns and questions regarding its implementation and its impact on security and well- be from the neighborhood, ”says the letter. This arrangement is meant to be temporary, it is not a proposal and residents have already started to move in. “
The letter directs readers to the Toronto Star’s report on the city’s measures to rehouse people in makeshift camps in apartments in two adjoining four-story buildings owned by the Times Group Corporation. The buildings will eventually be destroyed, but the Times Group rents 125 units from the city for $ 55 per unit per day, pledging to donate the proceeds to food banks.
The objective of the project is to immediately move people living in camps, under bridges or near ravines. Efforts are underway as news broke yesterday that someone died after a fire broke out in a camp under a bridge in Rosedale.
The Association of Residents of the Republic refused NOW’s request for an interview, but a representative, Miria Ioannou, made a statement.
“Although our community was not consulted on this decision, the Republic Residents‘ Association supports efforts to help those in need during these difficult times, “said the statement. “We are very concerned about the implementation of this program and we want to make sure that our neighborhood and the new residents are protected from COVID-19. “
The Republic Residents ’Association also claims to represent students, parents and staff at the North Toronto Collegiate Institute. The association hosted a meeting on May 4 with city councilor Josh Matlow and shelter, support and housing executive director Mary-Anne Bedard. According to the letter, the association also contacted MP Jill Andrew and Councilor Jaye Robinson.
Points to be discussed at the meeting: who is housed, how will the COVID-19 test be administered, how will social distancing be applied and how will temporary residents be monitored.
“Just as there is no security requirement in private buildings, there is no security requirement here,” said Councilor Joe Cressy, who worked on the temporary housing plan. “We provide a full staff, 24/7 to support people, not to control them.”
Cressy added that the city will provide temporary residents with food, cleaning, advice, help finding permanent housing and harm reduction support for people living with addiction.
“We are in the midst of the most serious global pandemic in a century,” he says. “All of the evidence has shown that those most vulnerable to COVID-19 are those who live in gathering places: the homeless living on the street, the elderly living in long-term care facilities and people living in shelters. We currently have a fundamental duty to save lives. And that means providing immediate access to housing for the homeless. “
Cressy worked on the project with Bedard, who was not available to comment. His office accommodated 50 people in the apartments (including studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments).