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Housing in a State of Emergency: Shelters, Encampments, and Human Rights Discourses in Toronto

This CITY Seminar will explore the tensions and ambiguities of the local state in the provision and illegalization of emergency housing. By emergency housing we refer to both municipally provided shelter space and the informal dwelling practices of unhoused/dehoused residents of the city. Contextualized in the current housing and COVID-19 crises in Toronto, our discussion addresses housing in a state of emergency from 3 different yet complementary perspectives: 1) public engagement and the role of oppositional publics in the siting of emergency shelters; 2) socio-legal questions surrounding allowable small structures during the pandemic on public and private property; and (3) the selective use of "housing as a human right" discourse.


Allison Evansis a recent Master of Environmental Studies Planning graduate at York University. Her research interests centre around the intersection of urban governance, land use planning and development, and everyday life in cities. Her master's research focused on the ambiguities of state regulation around the tents and other small structures found in Toronto's public spaces throughout the pandemic.

Luisa Sotomayoris an Associate Professor in Urban Planning and the Planning Program Coordinator at York University's Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Her research and teaching interests are focused on the various dimensions of urban inequality and their connections to housing systems, urban governance, and planning practice.

Estair Van Wagneris an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. She researches and teaches in the areas of property law, environmental and planning law, and natural resources law. She is currently leading an interdisciplinary team examining the human rights dimensions of municipal responses to encampments during COVID-19. She is co-director of the Osgoode Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic.

Jin Huh, executive director of Social Planning Toronto, will moderate the webinar.

Photo Credit: CJ Baek/Post City Magazines

This event is presented byCity Institute at York University (CITY)as part of its Seminar Series F/W 2021-2022.


Oct 28 2021


9:00 am - 10:30 am
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