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Inside a homeless camp in a deep freeze

Last Updated Jan 23, 2019 at 11:03 am EST

Tents sit below the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto on Wednesday January 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Every Canadian winter is life and death for those without a place to stay. In Toronto, where a housing crisis has all but eliminated affordable apartments, even the shelter system is at the breaking point. Homeless advocates called on the city yesterday to declare a state of emergency. The policy and the politics of it are one thing-but every day the issue is debated, people are out in the cold, trying to survive.

Today, our guest takes you inside one of the places where they try to do that. It’s a small community of ragtag tents set up under an expressway. The city gave them 14 days to move their possessions almost two weeks ago, but said late yesterday there is not a fixed deadline for a mass move or eviction. The camps have existed in one form or another for years, and have been a constant source of both anguish and embarrassment to City Hall, which sees them as a dangerous place for anyone, particularly in a deep freeze. But to these folks it’s also…home. With privacy, possession pets and neighbours. Of course it’s a fragile existence, but if you take the time to ask the people who choose it, they’ll tell you why they feel it’s the only option they have.

GUEST: May Warren, Toronto Star


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