Immediate Action to Support the City's Most Marginalized

Over the past two days, representatives of TheForgotten519, the City of London, and many community agencies and frontline workers who support people experiencing homelessness, addictions and episodic mental health challenges worked together to identify immediate and actionable solutions to better support people living in encampments, tents, campsites, or squats.

Early last week, #TheForgotten519 sounded the alarm about the immediate need for action, with the goal of preventing one more death among London’s vulnerable population. Their actions, including a hunger strike that began on Tuesday, August 2, shed a bright and somber light on the reality that people in this community have died predictable and preventable deaths at appalling and ever-increasing rates. In response, several agencies who provide supports and services to people experiencing came forward with letters of support and agreed to participate in working sessions to come to actionable and immediate solutions.

The focus on the discussion was primarily on the immediate needs of people living in encampments. In addition to immediate actions, all community agencies and frontline workers who participated agreed that medium term and long term solutions are desperately needed so that people do not have to resort to living in these conditions. Work toward these strategies is also occurring with the understanding that the lasting answer to this homelessness emergency is affordable, supportive housing. We continue to call all levels of government for their continued investment and support.

The process began with a meeting that brought more than 147 people together to focus on collective solutions. Over the course of the past two days, a smaller working group of 30 people continued the conversation to bring the action plan forward. Because of these timely actions and commitments the hunger strike of Dan Oudshoorn, Outreach Worker and Grassroots Researcher will end today at 5:00pm!

The solutions outline key actions and timelines to help ensure people in encampments receive immediate support through the cohesive approach that has been developed and defined through this process. Highlights in this plan include a shift in the response to encampments to focus on outreach and support first, with by-law involvement only at their request; greater involvement of frontline workers in encampments; additional resources such as providing showers and increasing water provided; additional training for Municipal Law Enforcement Officers; and agreed upon parameters that will guide when and how an encampment is removed. The full details are provided in the document that is attached.

Quotes: "TheForgotten519 are overwhelmed and grateful to their community that made these urgent actions possible. We stand in solidarity with all of the frontline workers and in solidarity with the solutions we have collectively achieved today. We have seen the power of the collective voice of the frontlines and how this can achieve change. While this isn't the way it has always been done, it was a clear demonstration that these things were needed and achievable. We thank everyone who made this possible" (TheForgotten519)

“We are grateful for the willingness of agencies from across the system to come together. The perspectives of frontline workers, who are seeing and experiencing first hand the impacts of a system that is stretched and broken, are essential in this process. These have been difficult conversations. It’s clear that everyone who participated is committed to working collectively to affect change, immediately and into the future. Through the sessions, both yesterday and today, we have identified steps we can take – at the City and across the system – to better support people who are experiencing homelessness, addictions and episodic mental health challenges” (Kevin Dickins, Deputy City Manager, Social and Health Development City of London)

“London Cares is pleased to lead a collaborative community response to providing more supports to those experiencing homelessness in London to prevent more death. So many agencies came to the table to work together with the City of London and The Forgotten 519 for meaningful solutions. We appreciate the commitment and flexibility of everyone as we work quickly with immediate responses and look to the short term future for more medium and long term solutions. Homelessness is a complex issue and it is only with everyone working together can we better meet people’s needs.” (Anne Armstrong, Executive Director, London Cares Homeless Response Services)

Agreed upon solutions

Last modified:Friday, August 05, 2022