Toronto: Street deaths `almost like a slaughter' as winter

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 4 Nov 1998 13:45:06 -0400


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FWD  Toronto Star  editorial - November 4, 1998
          Greater Toronto Story:

STREET DEATHS 'ALMOST LIKE A SLAUGHTER'
WINTER TO WORSEN HOMELESS CRISIS, ACTIVISTS WARN

By Catherine Dunphy, Toronto Star Feature Writer
      With files from John Spears

`Homelessness is a national disaster,
but the number of homeless deaths is a national scandal.'
--Beric German, Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness

 Another day, another death.

 Since Vernon Crow died some time during the night of Oct. 1, surrounded by
empty bottles of cheap cooking alcohol, four more of Toronto's homeless
have died on the city's streets.

 Sunday, it was Kathleen Hart, slain in a back alley; Monday, a man in his
late 30s from Prince Edward Island was found dead by some friends in the
dingy alcove of the Bay Street railway underpass where he slept.

The bodies of two homeless men were found late last month at Queen and
Sherbourne Sts.

``It's almost like a slaughter,'' said street nurse Cathy Crowe. ``Two in a
row this week, it's too much. A society can't assimilate this any longer.''

 She has recently been tracking deaths of homeless people in Toronto ``in
the recent past.'' Her list consists of more than 40 names.

 Social worker Beric German of the Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness
says many more than 40 people have died because they are forced to live on
Toronto's streets.

No organization keeps track of the number of homeless deaths, he says, even
though a 1987 provincial coroner's inquest into the death of street person
Drina Jourbert recommended records be kept.

 Poverty activist John Clarke says this will be the worst winter yet,
because there are so many more homeless.

 ``We are going to start to see people turn up dead on our streets from the
cold in numbers that will horrify and amaze us all,'' he said.

In an open letter to Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman written Monday, Clarke asked
for a response within 48 hours. He compared the city's homeless situation
to a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

``If a hurricane or earthquake struck this city, the victims would be
sheltered in a matter of hours and rehoused within weeks,'' he wrote.

Toronto council declared homelessness a national disaster last Wednesday.
Lastman promised to invite Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Premier
Mike Harris to a meeting on homelessness this year.

Clarke, an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, says the
city's promise to phase in more beds and open additional shelters for the
homeless next month is unacceptable.

 Lastman wouldn't comment on Clarke's letter, but the mayor's aide, Jim
Warren, says the city will continue to work hard to respond to the crisis.

 In an interview yesterday, Lastman said he is working on a plan to
stimulate construction of rental units, one that needs co-operation from
the federal and provincial governments.

Lastman estimates that about 20 to 25 per cent of the units would be
affordable. Key elements of the plan include tax breaks for builders and
lower municipal tax rates on new apartment buildings.

 Anne Golden, the chair of the Toronto Mayor's Homelessness Action Task
Force, was out of town and not available for comment on Clarke's letter,
but Dixon Hall's Elizabeth Greaves says she believes the city is ``in high
gear'' working to open more emergency facilities.

 ``Can we stop death on the street? No,'' said Greaves, executive director
of the social service agency.

END FORWARD



** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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FWD  Toronto Star  editorial - November 4, 1998

          Greater Toronto Story:


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>STREET DEATHS 'ALMOST LIKE A
SLAUGHTER'

WINTER TO WORSEN HOMELESS CRISIS, ACTIVISTS WARN


By Catherine Dunphy, Toronto Star Feature Writer

      With files from John Spears


`Homelessness is a national disaster,

but the number of homeless deaths is a national scandal.' 

--Beric German, Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness

</paraindent>

 Another day, another death.


 Since Vernon Crow died some time during the night of Oct. 1,
surrounded by empty bottles of cheap cooking alcohol, four more of
Toronto's homeless have died on the city's streets.


 Sunday, it was Kathleen Hart, slain in a back alley; Monday, a man in
his late 30s from Prince Edward Island was found dead by some friends
in the dingy alcove of the Bay Street railway underpass where he
slept.


The bodies of two homeless men were found late last month at Queen and
Sherbourne Sts.


``It's almost like a slaughter,'' said street nurse Cathy Crowe. ``Two
in a row this week, it's too much. A society can't assimilate this any
longer.''


 She has recently been tracking deaths of homeless people in Toronto
``in the recent past.'' Her list consists of more than 40 names.


 Social worker Beric German of the Toronto Coalition Against
Homelessness says many more than 40 people have died because they are
forced to live on Toronto's streets.


No organization keeps track of the number of homeless deaths, he says,
even though a 1987 provincial coroner's inquest into the death of
street person Drina Jourbert recommended records be kept.


 Poverty activist John Clarke says this will be the worst winter yet,
because there are so many more homeless.


 ``We are going to start to see people turn up dead on our streets from
the cold in numbers that will horrify and amaze us all,'' he said.


In an open letter to Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman written Monday, Clarke
asked for a response within 48 hours. He compared the city's homeless
situation to a natural disaster such as an earthquake.


``If a hurricane or earthquake struck this city, the victims would be
sheltered in a matter of hours and rehoused within weeks,'' he wrote.


Toronto council declared homelessness a national disaster last
Wednesday. Lastman promised to invite Prime Minister Jean
Chr&eacute;tien and Premier Mike Harris to a meeting on homelessness
this year.


Clarke, an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, says
the city's promise to phase in more beds and open additional shelters
for the homeless next month is unacceptable. 


 Lastman wouldn't comment on Clarke's letter, but the mayor's aide, Jim
Warren, says the city will continue to work hard to respond to the
crisis.


 In an interview yesterday, Lastman said he is working on a plan to
stimulate construction of rental units, one that needs co-operation
from the federal and provincial governments.


Lastman estimates that about 20 to 25 per cent of the units would be
affordable. Key elements of the plan include tax breaks for builders
and lower municipal tax rates on new apartment buildings.


 Anne Golden, the chair of the Toronto Mayor's Homelessness Action Task
Force, was out of town and not available for comment on Clarke's
letter, but Dixon Hall's Elizabeth Greaves says she believes the city
is ``in high gear'' working to open more emergency facilities.


 ``Can we stop death on the street? No,'' said Greaves, executive
director of the social service agency.


END FORWARD



   

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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