By David Owen
There will be haunted houses on campus this weekend.
The themed shelters were built for Habitat for Humanity’s Home-a-thon to raise awareness for families living in sub-standard housing in Toronto.
Poor living conditions are reflected in the construction of the shelters, made from recycled plywood and lacking beds and floors. They were built by the Habitat for Humanity Ryerson team, and will be lived in for 24 hours this weekend starting Friday night.
Teams from post-secondary institutions across the GTA are participating in the camp-out and are aiming to raise $5000 from the weekend.
Enloe Wilson, Habitat for Humanity’s community and faith ambassador, said the purpose of the Home-a-Thon is to trumpet the need for affordable housing to students in the city.
“Toronto is amazing, but it is not affordable,” Wilson said. “There are [more than] 600,000 Torontonians living below the poverty line.”
More than half of those living below the poverty line spend 60% of their income on shelter, leaving them with little money for food, transportation, and saving opportunities.
Wilson said there are 76,000 Toronto residents in cue for subsidized housing and Habitat for Humanity works year round, mobilizing over 15,000 volunteers in an effort to aid those in need.
The money raised in this fall’s Home-a-Thon goes to an organization called Eyes of Hope.
The organization is a University of Toronto humanitarian group founded in 2009 by Davis Doan, an engineering student. Doan’s goal was to raise $80,000 to build a home for a low-income family in need. Unfortunately, Doan died in his mid 20s after a battle with cancer in 2010, but Eyes of Hope is still raising money to finish what Doan started.
In June, Genworth Financial made the organization’s goal attainable through its pledge to match donations dollar for dollar. Eyes of Hope has raised over $66,000 and will begin building a home at 697 Danforth Rd. in Scarborough later this fall. Habitat for Humanity will work with the organization to build the house.
Traditionally, York University raises the most money and has the greatest number of participants in the Home-a-Thon; but this year, Ryerson has raised the most money so far with $285.
Lily Lin, Habitat for Humanity Ryerson president and a third-year urban planning student, said she is excited to represent her school in this event and to get her peers thinking about the need for affordable housing in the city.
“This will be a great bonding experience for the different schools in Toronto,” Lin said. “It has been great working together with the other leaders to make this event a success.”
Habitat for Humanity Ryerson has 30 members, two of which will be sharing floor space in one of the shacks this Friday night.
Sabnam Islam, President and Founder of the Habitat Youth Coalition, will be among more than 50 participants spending the night on campus.
“Students should give back to the community in any way. We are able-bodied and intelligent people who have so much to offer,” she said. “Pamphlets and brochures are great, but students have to come out and experience it.”