A carpenter who has been celebrated as a local hero for his creation of small shelters for homeless in Toronto parks will stop operations.
On Saturday, Khaleel Seivwright of Toronto Tiny Shelters took to Instagram to state that he had reached an agreement with the City of Toronto and will no longer create the tiny shelters.
“I have settled with the city and agreed not to build or place structures in parks,” wrote Seivwright.
"Leading up to this agreement I have been in conversation with the City in an attempt to secure permanent housing for encampment residents that want and need it. But it has been obvious that putting this problem out of sight has been the City's main concern instead," he continued.
Seivwright said he will shut down his crowdfunding campaign for “Toronto Tiny Shelters” and that the program won’t continue “in the same way.”
Seivwright made headlines last winter when he crowdfunded hundreds of thousands of dollars to build tiny shelters for people living outside.
Clearly, not everyone was a fan of his goodwill. In February, the City filed an injunction against Seivwright, highlighting that it was illegal to erect the structures due to safety concerns and ordering him to stop placing the shelters on city-owned land.
“The City’s operating divisions have serious safety concerns with these structures and determined it was necessary to ask the courts to order that construction, illegal placement and/or relocation of these structures on City property be halted,” reads a press release issued by the City of Toronto earlier this year.
“There are numerous safety risks that exist in encampments including fires, gasoline generators, propane tanks, overdose, and lack of access to water and sanitation.”
The same press release highlighted that a resident of a wooden structure had passed away in an encampment fire that involved their shelter.
In a video statement released in February, Seivwright maintained that his structures actually offer a safer alternative to Toronto’s often violent shelters -- especially in the middle of a global pandemic. “The city of Toronto has a housing crisis. The shelter system has left people with no options. I started building tiny shelters so that some of the most vulnerable could have somewhere warm to go,” said Seivwright in the video.
In the months since, tensions between the City of Toronto and homeless residents and affordable activists has been brewing with each dramatic dismantle of encampments in city parks.
"It's late August now, and cold weather is only a few months away," Seivwright said in his Instagram statement. "I hope that others continue to do what they are inspired to do to support people living outside, until the day comes when the people who run this City step up and do their job,"