TORONTO — A Toronto carpenter who builds tiny picket shelters for the homeless has requested the town to drop its courtroom struggle in opposition to him.
The town is looking for a courtroom order to cease Khaleel Seivwright from making, fixing and relocating his small shelters on city-owned land.
Seivwright, who started making the constructions final fall, mentioned the town ought to spend the cash its utilizing on the authorized struggle to assist susceptible residents as a substitute.
“The Metropolis of Toronto ought to drop its software in opposition to me and focus its sources and efforts on what issues — getting folks safely housed,” he mentioned in a videotaped assertion.
“It’s February. The town shouldn’t be eradicating or destroying tiny shelters till actual alternate options exist and COVID-19 is below management.”
Homeless encampments have popped up all through the town as lots of fled shelters final yr for worry of contracting COVID-19.
Seivwright’s insulated “tiny shelters” are in quite a few parks across the metropolis. He raised greater than $200,000 on GoFundMe for supplies, however supplies his providers without cost.
“With winter approaching, I knew that with out shelter folks would die, as they do in Toronto yearly,” Seivwright mentioned in a videotaped assertion.
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“I began constructing tiny shelters in order that a number of the most susceptible might have someplace heat to go. The shelters I constructed are a small a part of a brief resolution to maintain folks alive till they’ll entry various housing.”
The town mentioned Monday that the injunction software it filed in opposition to Seivwright on Feb. 12 stands.
It has mentioned in its software that its bylaws prohibit tenting and residing in city-owned parks.
Advocates say about 1,000 individuals are residing outdoors and the town mentioned just lately that it counted about 300 tents or constructions within the metropolis’s parks and ravines.
The town says the encampments are a security hazard.
Final week, a person died after a picket construction caught fireplace. The hearth stays below investigation and it’s unclear if the shelter was made by Seivwright.
The town mentioned there have been 253 fires in encampments final yr in comparison with 2019, a 250 per cent improve.
Seivwright known as the town’s authorized motion “a distraction.”
“The issue isn’t the tiny shelters. The issue is that Toronto’s most susceptible individuals are falling by the cracks,” he mentioned.
The town has carried out a large relocation effort to scale back the inhabitants at its shelters, that are largely congregate settings, by transferring people into resorts and residences and everlasting housing.
There are at present 9 shelters with COVID-19 outbreaks, with 149 folks testing optimistic for the novel coronavirus, in accordance with the town.
A COVID-19 variant has made its method inside one of many shelters.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
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