Man who builds tiny shelters for Toronto’s homeless asks metropolis to drop courtroom case

TORONTO – A Toronto carpenter who builds tiny picket shelters for the homeless has requested town to drop its courtroom battle in opposition to him.

The town is in search of 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 town ought to spend the cash its utilizing on the authorized battle to assist weak residents as an alternative.

“The Metropolis of Toronto ought to drop its utility in opposition to me and focus its assets and efforts on what issues – getting individuals safely housed,” he mentioned in a videotaped assertion.

“It is 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 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 companies without spending a dime.

“With winter approaching, I knew that with out shelter individuals would die, as they do in Toronto yearly,” Seivwright mentioned in a videotaped assertion.

“I began constructing tiny shelters in order that a few of the most weak might have someplace heat to go. The shelters I constructed are a small a part of a brief answer to maintain individuals alive till they will entry different housing.”

The town mentioned Monday that the injunction utility it filed in opposition to Seivwright on Feb. 12 stands.

It has mentioned in its utility that its bylaws prohibit tenting and residing in city-owned parks.

Advocates say about 1,000 individuals are residing outdoors and town mentioned 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 hearth. The fireplace 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 enhance.

Seivwright referred to as town’s authorized motion “a distraction.”

“The issue is just not the tiny shelters. The issue is that Toronto’s most weak individuals are falling by way of the cracks,” he mentioned.

The town has carried out an enormous relocation effort to scale back the inhabitants at its shelters, that are principally congregate settings, by shifting people into accommodations and flats and everlasting housing.

There are at the moment 9 shelters with COVID-19 outbreaks, with 149 individuals testing optimistic for the novel coronavirus, in keeping with town.

A COVID-19 variant has made its manner inside one of many shelters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Feb. 22, 2021.