Seivwright accused the city of disracting the people from their own failings by filing an injunction against him.
A carpenter from Toronto is working to build 'tiny shelters' for the city's homeless people but the city is suing him, claiming the structures are dangerous. Khaleel Seivwright is accusing the city of not doing enough to protect the homeless people while also putting a spoke into the wheels of those who were trying to help them. Seivwright started building these miniature, winterized shelters for the homeless during the pandemic. While his work was getting support from all quarters, the city moved injunction against him to stop him from building any more shelters on public property, reported Vice.
The carpenter from Scarborough released a written statement and video slamming the city over its “terrible” reputation in providing shelter to the unhoused. He said the city moved against him only to distract from its own failings to take care of the homeless. "The money the city is spending to attack me right now could be put into safe housing for those that need it. This pandemic has been a nightmare," said Seivwright. “The problem is not the tiny shelters. The problem is that Toronto’s most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks." He said that the homeless people had “nowhere to go” and could “no longer trust” the city’s shelter system. “The City of Toronto should drop its application against me and focus its resources and efforts on what matters — getting people safely housed.”
The carpenter started making them around September and each shelter roughly costs him $1,000. He has raised funds for the same but he's been doing it for free, taking no money for his labor. He's hoping the shelters help the homeless, especially during the unforgiving winter season. "It just seemed like something I could do that would be useful because there are so many people staying in tents," said Seivwright, according to CBC. "I've never seen so many people staying outside in parks, and this is something I could do to make sure people staying outside in the winter could survive." He knew it was only a makeshift solution but it still was better than what the city offered. "This isn't a permanent solution. This is just making sure people don't die in the cold this winter," said Seivwright, last year. With many being evicted due to the financial crisis on account of the Coronavirus pandemic, Seivwright's shelters proved lifesaving for many.
The city filed the injunction in the Ontario Court of Appeals on February 12, claiming the wooden structures built by Khaleel Seivwright were susceptible to catching fire. They also claimed the shelters would deter people from moving to city-run housing facilities, in the injunction. The city stated that the city experienced a 250 percent increase in the number of emergency calls related to encampment fires between the period 2019 and 2020. The city argued that it was these makeshift shelters that were causing the rise in such fires. “Fires in encampments pose not only a danger to those living in encampments but also to first responders and the broader community,” read a press release, also pointing out that one such fire earlier this month had claimed the life of one man living inside a shelter.
Simone Schmidt, a co-founder, of Encampment Support Network, a civilian-run outreach organization, accused the city of pushing through its own housing plan despite the miniature shelters having saved countless lives. “It’s painful to see the city weaponize the (threat of fire) against the life-saving capacity that tiny shelters have, because the amount of lives that they have saved is huge at this point.” Schmidt said the Coronavirus outbreak in the city's shelter meant people preferred outdoor encampments. Brad Ross, spokesperson for the City of Toronto admitted the city's shelters were at near maximum capacity. “Is the capacity in the emergency shelter system very high? Absolutely it is,” said Ross before claiming that the encampments made it harder for the city to give homeless people permanent housing through the city’s Streets to Homes program.
You can support Khaleel Seivwright make more shelters through the GoFundMe campaign here.