Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC) and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) are inviting users of the All Saints drop-in/day shelter to a public meeting to air their concerns.
A front-page Globe and Mail article (December 2006) reported that, “city officials….were surprised when Ms. Loughrey (Rev. Jeannie Loughrey of All Saints) told them she would not be applying for funding in 2007 because she planned to close the drop-in centre.”
TDRC and OCAP had already been negotiating intensely with the church about the closing of the drop-in/day shelter or the reduction of hours. Now the church says they will remain open, but refuse to state the drop-in/day shelter’s hours.
Over 35 years ago, the All Saints Church was to be sold, due to a dwindling congregation.
Then the famous Anglican cleric Reverend Norman Ellis argued that the church should be used by the poor. His view prevailed and the church became a drop-in/day shelter.
“It was only when we opened the church’s doors each weekday, let the crowds of the poor, unemployed, and transient people sit around and drink coffee, that Christ really came into the church,” said Ellis.
The Norm Ellis Room in All Saints is named after him.
Staff at All Saints now claim the drop-in/day shelter will remain open but refuse to give anyone the hours or days.
“The hours and days for the drop-in/day shelter are everything,” said Beric German of the TDRC.
“Where is Norm Ellis when we need him?” said German. “When homeless night shelters close, All Saints provides life-saving warmth to thousands of people who require it. We are already short of day shelter in Toronto. We need All Saints to open from at least 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays, which are its present hours.”
The church has stated that they do not want a public meeting of drop-in/day shelter users. Instead, they have decorated the inside of the church with posters stating that the TDRC and OCAP are lying. If the TDRC and OCAP are refused entry to the church there will be a public airing of the issues outside on the sidewalk.
“The question of “Will All Saints stay open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays?” will be on everyone’s lips. Life depends on it!” said Cathy Crowe of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.