Seaton House revitalization not helping the city’s homeless, anti-poverty activists claim

Downtown facility among the oldest in Toronto

Toronto City Hall had some unwelcome guests recently.

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A look outside The Seaton House located on George Street in Toronto. ( Braydon Holmyard/Toronto Observer)

Protestors gathered outside of Mayor John Tory’s second-floor office recently, decrying an approved motion to revitalize Seaton House, a homeless men’s shelter located 339 George St.

Seaton House is among the largest and oldest homeless facilities in the city.

Re-development plans will lead to a decrease in the number of available beds.

“To do that, it’s reckless and dangerous,” said John Clarke, founder of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the group behind the protest.

“People are not going to be able to survive … the shelters are hopelessly overcrowded. There is a need to provide better homeless services.”

The revitalization project is aiming to provide four new 100-bed shelters at a total cost of $46.8 million. Previously, the Seaton Housing Project provided up to 634 beds.

A harm reduction worker who did not want his name used says he has worked directly with Seaton House occupants and feels the overhaul will force many of the city’s homeless population back onto the streets.

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The Seaton House, pictured here, currently holds 634 beds. ( Braydon Holmyard/Toronto Observer)

“As a front line worker, I’ve spent countless hours calling around, finding vacancies, knowing it’s a life or death situation for the people they serve,” he said. “If this goes through, more people will die in the streets.”

Toronto Observer’s attempt to reach a City Hall officials for comment was unsuccessful.

However, according to the City of Toronto website, local residents have complained that the downtown east community is derelict and say they worry about their safety. The city argues that until Seaton House is revitalized, “transformation of the street and neighbourhood is not possible.”