8 Questions With 8 80 Cities: In Conversation With Chris Glover on Addressing Homelessness

In 8 Questions, 8 80 Cities asks people with specific insights and expertise on topics related to our mission of creating better cities for all. We ask them about their passions and their history and points of view. And then we ask them to suggest a question for our next interviewee. 

8 80 Cities Project Manager Jayne Armstrong, and Project Coordinator Brandon Miles, spoke to Chris Glover, MPP elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 2018 representing the riding of Spadina-Fort York. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Technology Development and Innovation. Prior to his election to the legislature, Chris was a TDSB Trustee, a member of the Toronto Board of Health and an Adjunct Professor at York University. 

As MPP, Mr. Glover is working on expanding co-op housing as a way to address the affordable housing crisis, advocating for a reversal of OSAP cuts, advocating for the daycares and schools we need, and working to reduce gun violence through a public health approach.

In 2o21 8 80 Cities published the Addressing Homelessness in Parks: An Inclusive Practice Guide. We were interested in highlighting some of the local advocacy efforts on addressing homelessness in our own city which is why we approached Mr. Glover for this interview.

What inspired the creation of the Homelessness Advocacy Working Group? 

The Homelessness Advocacy Workshop Group began out of necessity at the start of the pandemic. I got a few friends together and we cooked and delivered meals to those who couldn’t go out due to medical reasons. Government guidance at the start of the pandemic was to shelter in place, but there were so many folks who were without safe or adequate places to stay. With shelters at capacity, we began to expand our food delivery to people experiencing homelessness with a special focus on Toronto’s parks. 

Now the Working Group provides sustenance to those in supportive housing, seniors and people experiencing homelessness. The group feeds approximately 1500 people per week in addition to the advocacy work being done. 

The current state of public funding for housing is paltry. The City of Toronto is just about the only level of government that is participating in solving the homelessness crisis. Federal and provincial governments need to participate in solving this issue too. 

What do you hope to achieve through the Working Group? 

We hope that homelessness will be acknowledged as an emergency by all levels of government. We also hope to see the addition of 100,000 homes over the next 10 years with 70,000 affordable units with the remaining 30,000 as supportive housing. 

What do you think are the key actions cities need to take to address the homelessness crisis? 

A root cause of homelessness is that local municipal governments have been assigned the full responsibility of tackling this issue without the support of provincial and federal governments. Cities should not bear complete responsibility for tackling the homelessness crisis. The federal government in Canada played a major role in the creation of affordable housing until the early 1990s. This role needs to be reintroduced if we want to address the lack of affordable housing and in turn the homelessness crisis in Canada. 

Who is tackling the issue of homelessness locally in Toronto? 

Agencies such as Homes First, Seeds of Hope, and Spadina-Fort York Community Care Program have all been excellent leaders in the fight against homelessness. 

Are there any upcoming projects/webinars for the Homelessness Advocacy Working Group?

Absolutely! The Working Group meetings are open to everyone who cares about this crisis. Please email my office to get the invitation to join: cglover-co@ndp.on.ca 

What is a popular notion around homelessness that you’d like to dispel? 

I wish that neighbours of parks and public spaces where people experiencing homelessness would redirect their anger currently aimed at the homeless individuals and direct it towards the politicians. 

I wish people would try to understand the situations of people experiencing homelessness. I’ve met folks who are living in a tent after escaping sex trafficking and people with intergenerational trauma. A little compassion and advocacy go a long way. 

As is the tradition in the  ‘8 Questions With’ series, the previous interviewee asks a question to the next interviewee. We last spoke with Maureen Healey, the Executive Director of the Bronte Business Improvement Area in Oakville, who asks MPP Chris Glover “When you can travel again, what is the first place you will go to and why?” 

Well, I haven’t visited the East Coast in a long time. I’d like to take a road trip out east with my son who is now in his 20s. I have travelled a lot, but I think travel within Canada remains some of my best experiences. 

What question would you like to pose for our next interviewee? 

“If you could make one change in our society, what would it be?” 


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