Unhoused - Canada
One to two thousand people sleep rough in Toronto every night; meaning they are living outdoors under bridges, in tents, and makeshift shelters. During the COVID-19 pandemic encampments began to spring up in parks throughout the city. With restrictions in place for months at a time, the availability of indoor spaces was drastically reduced.
This project began in 2020 with a desire to document homelessness in Toronto and evolved with a desire to gain deeper understanding of the people experiencing homelessness in Toronto.
In late 2020 a man known as Georgia, who was living at an encampment near Toronto’s waterfront, became a vocal point in the project. After a fire engulfed and destroyed Georgia’s encampment, and resulted in him being hospitalized, Georgia eventually moved to Trinity Bellwoods Park. He provided insight into the realities of homelessness and survival in the urban outdoors.
As the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on so did the realities of living without housing in unsanctioned encampments in public parks. People came and went; some were banished by residents of encampments and found other places to sleep, others were put up in hotels by the city. In the summer of 2021 City of Toronto mandated evictions of encampments led to clashes between encampment residents, and their supporters, and the Toronto Police Services. Trinity Bellwoods Park and Alexandra Park were cleared of all encampments. The need for affordable and supportive housing has never been more evident yet the complexities around homelessness continue to confound the city.
The chronologically organized photographs provide glimpses of the lives of those in the encampments.