Publications, opinions, and speeches


Displacement City documents how the pandemic affected people who are homeless

Published on 15/02/2023

Maytree sent copies of the book, Displacement City: Fighting for Health and Homes in a Pandemic, to Toronto’s city councillors and other municipal officials, along with this letter.

We’re sending you a copy of Displacement City: Fighting for Health and Homes in a Pandemic, co-edited by outreach worker Greg Cook and street nurse Cathy Crowe. Maytree supported the creation of this book as it aligns with our mission to find solutions to poverty taking a human rights-based approach.

Displacement City focuses on the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected some of the most vulnerable people in our wealthy city: people living outside or in the city’s emergency shelter system. Today, three years into the pandemic, it has not lost any of its relevance. In fact, listening to the news, walking down Bay Street, or riding the TTC, we can see first-hand that much of what the authors describe still plays out every day.

The essays, stories, poems, and photography in this book document the urgent need for adequate and affordable housing in Toronto. As Greg Cook writes,

You will encounter the story of a Mohawk Auntie who collaborates with colleagues to connect the history of residential schools with the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous people in this city. The story of a refugee family who shares their experience of creating connections and meaning while in a shelter in a new land. The story of a middle-aged man who speaks out about the terror of living in a congregate shelter and then being sick with COVID-19. The story of a woman in a wheelchair who describes her fight to acquire accessible housing while supporting her friends.

Many people want to move on from the pandemic. Some want to believe that the promise to “build back better” was fulfilled – others are willing to let the inequities and injustices that the pandemic exposed fade back into invisibility.

For people who are homeless, or on the brink of homelessness, the pandemic made an already bad situation even worse. Shelters are still beyond capacity; people are turned away each night and must find alternative spaces to stay warm (or cool), to shower or use the toilet, to wash their clothes. The lack of affordable housing continues to grow.

As Toronto seeks a new mayor, we have another opportunity to make the people who need a home a top priority.

We hope that you take the time to read Displacement City and share it with your staff. And then reach out to the contributors to be guided by their experiences and to work together towards a city that cares and respects human rights. We would be happy to connect you with the book’s editors and contributors. We at Maytree continue to be ready and available to work with the City on solutions to our housing crisis.


Housing and homelessness


The essays, stories, poems, and photography in Displacement City document the urgent need for adequate and affordable housing in Toronto.