• Petitioned The 519 and the City of Toronto

This petition was delivered to:

The 519 and the City of Toronto

Save the Sunday Drop-In for People in Poverty

    1. Petition by

      Lynda Cheng

      North York, Canada

Please check the blog for updates and previous postings: http://sundaydropin.blogspot.ca/

The petition has been delivered! But feel free to sign the petition anyway for email updates on what's happening.

We received over 1000 signatures in support of this petition.

For nearly 40 years, the 519 Church Street Community Centre has offered a Sunday Drop-In for local people in poverty, providing food, support, and community. Recently, the 519 suddenly announced plans to replace the Sunday Drop-In with a drop-in that is open to those who specifically identify as LGBTQ or as an Ally. The letters below, to the 519 Board of Management and the Manager of Community Housing Initiatives for the City of Toronto, outline the problems with these changes. If you are short on time, just skip to the actual petition letter, further down the page. Thank you very much for your support!

To the 519 Church Street Community Centre Board of Management:  

We, Former Staff and Volunteers, Participants and Friends of the Sunday Drop-In, have collected over 1000 signatures to appeal to the 519 to meet the needs of the existing participants of the Sunday Drop-In.  

The changes to the Sunday Drop-In that the 519 had originally proposed, described on the information flyer, disregarded the needs of the existing drop-in participants and would have displaced many of them.  

Although the 519 explained that they had conducted the necessary evaluation to design the changes to the drop-in, it is unlikely that a proper needs assessment with the existing drop-in participants would have yielded the proposed changes, which included:

1) New program groups designed for older LGBTQ women, Aboriginal communities, LGBTQ youth, and other LGBTQ groups: Most of the drop-in participants are middle-aged and older men who would not fit into any of these groups.  

2) Lunch pushed to 2 p.m. and served to the program group participants: Participants would not have requested that lunch be served later, and as part of a program group most would not belong to.  

3) Cut hours to the sleep room: The new program groups will require the space normally occupied by the sleep room, cutting two or three hours in the afternoon. Participants have already stated their wishes that the sleep room be open longer, not shorter, as the need for restful sleep is as vital as the need for nutritious food and a space to relax.  

The proposed changes did not appear to be well-advised. In raising these concerns with the Executive Director of the 519, she amended their original plans, stating that they will continue to serve 80 breakfasts from 10 a.m. and 80 lunches from 1 p.m., accessible to anyone. This is a significant improvement from the description provided in the info flyer. In spite of this, we remain concerned of the possibility that participants may be displaced due to the introduction of the program groups and the early closing of the sleep room. It remains uncertain as to whether drop-in participants who do not join a group will be welcome at the drop-in during the afternoon programming.  

The Sunday Drop-In has been an important service in the community for nearly 40 years. When the number of meals was reduced from 250 to 80 for the renovation of the 519 building, many participants were displaced. Other drop-ins consequently experienced extra long lines out the door, as a result of the eliminated 170 meals. We are concerned that the proposed changes to the Sunday Drop-In will create many more barriers to community members living in poverty.  

We ask that the 519 expand the program to serve 250 participants again. The reduction of meals and space, at one time communicated as temporary, negatively impacted the community. If the 519 proceeds with the proposed changes, we expect the Board of Management to, at the very least, ensure that the Sunday Drop-In adequately addresses the needs of the existing 110 participants (although the drop-in is budgeted for 80 lunches, in reality, the staff serve about 110 because so many people come). As the program is still a drop-in and not a closed program, we request that participants continue to have the opportunity to rest and socialize in a safe space until closing time at the end of the afternoon, even if they do not join a program group. We ask that the sleep room remain open in the afternoon, and that the 519 strive to serve hot, nutritious meals*. Finally, we ask the 519 to consider hosting the program groups for the additional program group participants on another day, without taking away from the resources of the existing drop-in.  

Because we understand that funding is a key issue, we have simultaneously petitioned the City of Toronto to provide sufficient funding for the Sunday Drop-In to serve 180 participants, consisting of the current 110 participants and the anticipated 60-80 program group participants.  

We thank you for taking the time to consider and respond to the concerns of the community. We invite you to visit the blog we have created for community members to stay informed about the Sunday Drop-In: http://sundaydropin.blogspot.ca/  

We can be reached at savethe519sdi@gmail.com.  

Sincerely,  

Former Staff and Volunteers,

Participants and Friends

of the 519 Sunday Drop-In  


*We are concerned with the inconsistency of the food quality at the Sunday Drop-In. Despite the opening of FABARNAK and the involvement of their culinary staff at the drop-in, the 519 has at times replaced nutritious food with donated goods, on one occasion serving packages of fruit gummy candies instead of real vegetables.  

 

==========

 

Dear Ms. Broughton,  

We, Former Staff and Volunteers, Participants and Friends of the Sunday Drop-In, have collected over 1000 signatures demanding that the City of Toronto Shelter, Support, and Housing Administration act to ensure adequate and accessible weekend drop-in services at the 519 Church Street Community Centre.  

The 519 recently proposed changes to the Sunday Drop-In that would have resulted in a cut to drop-in hours, and thus risked displacing many of the drop-in participants. These changes are described in the information flyer given to participants. Subsequently, in response to the concerns of this petition, the Executive Director of the 519 has amended their original plans, stating that they will continue to serve 80 breakfasts from 10 a.m. and 80 lunches from 1 p.m., accessible to anyone. This is a significant improvement from the description provided in the info flyer. In spite of this, we remain concerned of the possibility that participants may be displaced due to the introduction of the program groups and the early closing of the sleep room.  

Former participants of the Sunday Drop-In had already experienced a recent displacement. The drop-in previously served over 250 participants each Sunday, but this number was reduced to 80 in 2008, due to the renovation of the 519 building. The reduction in meals was supposed to be temporary, but was in fact never restored. In the meantime, other drop-ins experienced extra long lines out the door, as a result of the eliminated 170 meals.  

We are alarmed by the growing pattern of closures to services for people living in poverty across Toronto. A similar event had occurred in the 1990s, when Central Neighbourhood House closed their weekend drop-in to the 300-400 people who had relied on this service for over 25 years. These meals were cut and not replaced elsewhere. The growing dearth of weekend drop-ins points to the increasing decline in support for impoverished people living in Toronto, in large part due to widespread gentrification. In the last decade, the city has experienced the shutting of numerous shelters – beds and meals that have not been replaced since*. Despite any possible good intentions, discontinuing these services has not lifted the problem of homelessness and poverty and has plainly added to the harm experienced by those in need of such services.  

The scarcity of services for people in poverty is apparent each week at the Sunday Drop-In. Although the drop-in is budgeted for 80 breakfasts and 80 lunches, in practice, the chef prepares about 110 meals to accommodate as many people as possible. Even so, participants are sometimes turned away due to the lack of food. With the proposed changes to the Sunday Drop-In, the 519 expects many more participants to join the drop-in for the program groups and meals. Consequently, without adequate funding, even more participants may be turned away.  

It is the City’s responsibility to ensure adequate and accessible weekend drop-in services to address the issue of poverty in Toronto, beginning with the services at the 519. We therefore request that the City increase funding to the 519 for the Sunday Drop-In. With the existing 110 participants and the expected 60-80 program group participants, the City should ensure the 519 has sufficient funding to provide hot, nutritious meals to at least 180 people at the Sunday Drop-In. If participants are displaced as a result of the changes to the drop-in, we expect the City to respond effectively to their needs.  

We thank you for taking the time to consider and respond to the concerns of the community. We invite you to visit the blog we have created for community members to stay informed about the Sunday Drop-In: http://sundaydropin.blogspot.ca/  

We can be reached at savethe519sdi@gmail.com.  

Sincerely,  

Former Staff and Volunteers,

Participants and Friends

of the 519 Sunday Drop-In  


*These shelters include 100 beds at StreetCity, 60 beds at Council Fire, 60 beds at Salvation Army, 70 beds at 60 Richmond, 100 beds at 110 Edward, and 60 beds at Metropolitan Church.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. The petition has been delivered!

      Lynda Cheng
      Petition Organizer
    2. Reached 250 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Peter Morris TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      It is vitally important to the large numbers who depend on this time at The 519

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Andrew Dopwell TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      The drop in has made a major impact in my life i wouldn't be where i am today if not for the drop in. A shame to cancel such a program that shows how marginal people and the gay community can coincide for such a long time. Nothing can compare

      . UNBELIEVABLE!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Matthew La Rose TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      The Sunday Drop-In is one of the most important resources at the 519.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Helen Chan TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      Inclusiveness and access to food and human contact should be a right without having to further subdivide people in poverty.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Gloria Tse TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      519 is suppose to be a community centre to serve those in need and to promote equality.... its plans act on the contrary and that is why I support this petition!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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