Hunger strike ends as homeless advocates and city find common ground
The City of London and community members have agreed to short- and long-term plans
A four-day hunger strike aimed at drawing attention to the plight of people in London who are experiencing homelessness is over with the city and advocates saying they've reached a consensus.
After two days of meetings, the recently formed advocacy group The Forgotten 519 and officials with the City of London said Friday evening in a statement that they are in agreement that medium- and long-term solutions are needed to help people find permanent housing.
They said they focused primarily on how to address the needs of people living in encampments, including the way in which city bylaw officers respond to outdoor encampment.
Going forward, the group agreed bylaw officers will only be involved at the request of frontline workers. Other immediate actions include providing water, paid for by the city, and setting up one or more shower trailers at a location not yet determined.
The <a href="https://twitter.com/Forgotten519?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Forgotten519</a> is so excited to share with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ldnont?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ldnont</a> that in collaboration with our partners & <a href="https://twitter.com/CityofLdnOnt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CityofLdnOnt</a> …… <a href="https://t.co/s8HeecUrXv">pic.twitter.com/s8HeecUrXv</a>—@Forgotten519
"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," The Forgotten 519 said in a statement.
Multiple people showed their support for improved services, including 147 people who first met with the city. That number was later scaled back to a smaller working group of 30.
"We are grateful for the willingness of agencies from across the system to come together," said Kevin Dickins, Deputy City Manager, Social and Health Development City of London.
"The perspectives of frontline workers, who are seeing and experiencing firsthand the impacts of a system that is stretched and broken, are essential in this process. These have been difficult conversations."
Both groups agreed more funding is necessary, and they will continue to lobby both levels of government.
Read all of the action items here:
Actions to support marginalized Londoners (PDF KB)
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On Tuesday, Dan Oudshoorn, an outreach worker for people experiencing homelessness, started a hunger strike. Over the course of the week, he was joined outside city hall by others in tents. A rally was also held Thursday to support efforts to make change for the city's vulnerable.
The Forgotten 519 group says more than 30 people have died this year as a result of homelessness.
"There are preventable deaths that are happening right now, and there are immediate actions that can be taken to stop those preventable deaths — and so that's why we are taking this action," Oudshoorn said Tuesday.