We are writing this as residents of George Street, in Toronto’s Downtown East End, specifically the houses located at 311 and 303 George. 311 is next door to O'Neill House, which is itself next to Seaton House. 311 George is also located at the beginning of a stretch of abandoned buildings, which run down the east side of the street leading up to an alleyway adjacent to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) apartment building at 291 George; 303 George is more-or-less in the middle of this span of unused buildings. 311 George has been a collective house for three years and several of its current tenants have lived there for over 18 months, whereas 303 has been a collective for 14 months. We consider George Street our home, and our neighbours, whether housed or homeless, our fellow community members.
By Alex Balch
According to the Toronto Star, I live in the worst neighbourhood in the city.
This past April, in an innocuously titled article “Dundas-Sherbourne poised for a surprising rebirth”, The Star's Robyn Doolittle pointed out that Toronto's downtown eastside “consistently tops every major Toronto police crime indictor list” — routinely beating the more notorious neighbourhoods of Jane and Finch, Rogers and Keele and Weston and Lawrence.
In the article Doolittle rightly — albeit disingenuously — attributes the area's high levels of criminality to its heavy concentration of poverty:
By Frank Liberto
Recently, gentrification has emerged as an issue in Hamilton, where political attacks have been waged on sex workers in the form of reactionary public meetings. Some civic boosters and members of the burgeoning downtown art colony and have engaged in a hostile rhetoric toward the poor and homeless.
In response, many social justice activists have begun to mobilize anti-gentrification struggles. Reaction to an art exhibit that exploited outdoor sex workers has evolved into an anti-gentrification group called HAND – Hamiltonians Against Neighbourhood Displacement.