Toronto Tiny Shelters announces it won’t return this winter after legal fight with city

TORONTO — A carpenter who crowdfunded hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to build small shelters for the homeless in city parks has announced that he will halt operations after settling with the City of Toronto.

Khaleel Seivwright, of Toronto Tiny Shelters, took to Instagram Saturday afternoon to make a statement.

“I have settled with the city and agreed not to build or place structures in parks,” Seivwright said.

Seivwright began building and providing tiny houses to people living outdoors last winter in an effort to provide shelter against freezing temperatures to Toronto’s houseless community.

The city filed an injunction against him in February, ordering him to permanently stop placing or relocating structures on city-owned land, citing safety concerns.

“It is illegal to dump or erect a structure of any kind, whether it’s in a park, a green space,” Chief Communications Officer for the City of Toronto, Brad Ross, told CTV News Toronto when the injunction was served.

“They don’t have clean water, sanitation, food, medical, addiction counselling, and so it would be safer inside,” Ross said.

After being served the injunction, Seivwright called the move a “distraction.”

“The problem is not the tiny shelters, the problem is that Toronto’s most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks,” he said in a video statement.

“With this settlement [finalized], Toronto Tiny Shelters will no longer exist in the same way. As well, the GoFundMe page will be closing down in two days,” the statement continued.

To date, the GoFundMe has raised over $285,000. The statement did not make it clear how those funds will be dispersed.

Seivwright criticized the city’s response to his project as he announced the cessation of operations.

“The future of our city does not depend on ruthlessly enforcing policies that have no regard for the humans being who live here. It does not depend on squeezing anyone out who cannot afford rent,” Seivwright said.

“The future of our city depends on cohesive, sustainable solutions that address the real issues: poverty, lack of affordable housing, and a broken shelter system.” 

With files from CTV Toronto’s Beth Macdonell

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