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Anti-poverty protesters call for 'right now plan'
LONDON, ONT -- A call for immediate action on London’s homelessness crisis hit downtown streets Friday.
About 30 anti-poverty protesters marched from the Salvation Army Centre of Hope in Soho, to the front steps of city hall on Dufferin Avenue.
They walked up and down Dundas Street, and made a number of key stops along the way.
Co-organizer Misty Craig, of the group London’s Homeless Helpers, told CTV News they want a so-called ‘right now’ plan from all levels of government.
“We're trying to find a solution for the individuals that are sleeping rough on our streets. We're trying to find - whether it be a tent city, opening up a vacant building - somewhere to get them out of the cold.”
The group, which is supported by the Urban Village Project, also distributed care-bags to people in need who they came across along their route.
They found 31-year-old Scott Taber sitting alone in front of the Central Library branch on Dundas.
He says the only thing standing between him being on the street and having a roof over his head is the funds.
“All it takes is a thousand bucks to get the keys for a place, right, the first and last. And from there all you have is one phone call left, setting up direct deposits with ODSP, it's just one phone call.”
The number of people living on the street and 'sleeping rough' in London has been estimated at more than 200.
Protest organizers say there are as many as 3,000 people who don’t have a home of their own.
Spokesperson Susan Campbell says that includes so-called couch-surfers and those who are unable to keep up with rising rents, “That's everyone. That's the people that are sleeping in their cars, in shelters, in violence against women shelters, transitional beds.”
Mayor Ed Holder says $90 million has been committed to the city’s multi-year budget to fight homelessness, but he admits solutions are needed sooner rather than later.
“I'm talking about geared-to-income housing. I'm talking about shelters and homelessness protections for our most vulnerable. It'll be good to have that kind of feedback from Londoners broadly. Look, we've got some short, medium, and long-term issues.”