Want to sleep in a fire trap? Neither do the homeless. This building next to the Business Building sits empty, but needs expensive repairs to meet fire and safety codes. PHOTO: EYE FILES

U of T may house homeless

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By Owen Ferguson

While the University of Toronto is considering opening its doors to house the homeless, Ryerson’s student council has no plans to push the university to do the same.

U of T’s university affairs board voted unanimously last Tuesday to begin an assessment of how the university could help the homeless.

The assessment is support by U of T’s Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) and Students’ Administrative Council (SAC).  The two student groups applauded the effort to look into setting up a shelter on campus.

Christ Ramsaroop, SAC’s president, said the St. George residence building at St. George and Bloor Streets, which is slated for demolition, is one building that could be turned into an emergency housing centre.

Erin George, RyeSAC’s v.p. education, is interested in U of T’s efforts.  She said she has contacted members of U of T’s student council to ask how Ryerson can help.

“We’re a lot closer to this issue than some small town universities.  We need to be responsible to our communities,” she said.

While George doesn’t’ know if Ryerson could centre a homeless shelter on campus, she said RyeSAC is trying to help the homeless.  The council supports the “Raise the Roof” organization, which raises funds for homeless shelters, and is also involved with a coalition that’s trying to get the federal government to declare Toronto’s homeless problem a national disaster.

While RyeSAC president David Steele supports U of T’s initiative, he doesn’t think the idea could fly here.

Steele points out that whiel the university does own a couple of abandoned buildings — one beside the business building on Victoria Street and another behind the Image Arts building on Bond Street — they don’t meet safety and fire standards.

“I don’t think we can anticipate doing something like that here.  We don’t have the facilities or the space,” Steele said.

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