Man Building Homes For Homeless People Stopped By City Of Toronto Taking Legal Action
Carpenter Khaleel Seivwright has hit back at the City of Toronto after it filed an application to prevent wooden structures being put up for homeless people.
Seivwright began constructing the shelters in autumn 2020 and received a wealth of public support for the project, with an online fundraiser for materials raising more than $222,000.
In spite of the praise, on February 12 the City of Toronto filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court to prevent what it considers to be illegal dumping of wooden shelters on city property.
Seivwright is named in the filing, which also cited the potential for the wooden structures to catch fire and the deterrent effects the shelters may have on getting people into city-run housing facilities.
The carpenter responded to the application in a statement provided by his lawyers, noting that the ‘money the City is spending to attack [him] could be put into safe housing for those that need it’.
Seivwright said he constructed the shelters as a ‘temporary solution’ for those who do not have permanent homes, and added:
Instead of working with me, the City sued to stop me from building and relocating the tiny shelters. This is a distraction. The problem is not the tiny shelters. The problem is that Toronto’s most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks.
Hear the carpenter’s response to the filing below:
Brad Ross, a spokesperson for the city, has argued that the city is not suing Seivwright, stressing that it is ‘seeking an injunction to stop placing or relocating wooden structures in parks and rights-of-way’.
Per CBC, Ross added, ‘The City is not suing Mr. Seivwright. The City is not suing anyone. The City is also concerned with statements made to move or relocate structures elsewhere in parks. The injunction speaks to this issue, in addition to any future illegal placement of new structures.’
Last week, the city said in a press release that it had seen a 250% increase in the number of emergency calls related to encampment fires made between 2019 and 2020.
It claimed that makeshift shelters were one of the leading causes of the increase, though Seivwright has made efforts to reduce the risks by equipping each shelter with a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, as well as a fire extinguisher.
In a statement to VICE, Ross noted that the capacity in the emergency shelter system is ‘very high’, and that the ultimate goal is to provide permanent housing through the city’s Streets to Homes program. Ross said the encampments complicate that transition.
In the application, the city seeks an order that would permanently restrain Seivwright from placing or relocating structures on city-owned land. A hearing date for the injunction has not yet been set.
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