Relief for Homeless: City,Police settles Housing lawsuit

With homeless people battling out the housing crisis, settlement of the lawsuit by housing activist Alex Brown and other two comrades was a significant leap. The case was settled for a $116,000 that City of Toronto and Toronto police have agreed to pay. However , Brown and his co-plaintiffs, Oriel Varga and Elan Ohayon have decided to donate a part of the settlement to the trust fund for grass root housing initiatives.

Brown feels that the settlement marks a victory for all those with the plight of homelessness. An unemployed truck driver, he shares the same plight, living in streets for five years.

Lawyer Vilko Zbogar, who fought the case fro the trio with Peter Rosenthal, this settlement of this human rights case was a significant victory and vindication. The significance of the settlement is more pronounced as this indicates that the government authorities are concerned about the rights of the homeless.

However, according to the lawyers of opposition, Kevin McGivney, representing the city and police, this was merely a settlement which saw both sides compromising. He further added that since the case was 10 years old, it was an excellent decision to compromise with the case to achieve a resolution instead of dragging the court-fight. As the case is old, so a significant amount has already been spend and with fading memory the evidences are not clear.

Although the plaintiff sought $150,000 for damages, however, they had to settle for $116,000 of which $60,000 is for damages and $56,000 for pre-judgment interest and legal costs. Out of the money received $70,000 will go into a trust, and the rest for lawyer’s fees and other people involved in the case.

The activists are set to argue police crackdown on any shelter of a homeless person and their advocates as it violates the Section 7 of the Charter, which guarantees right to life, liberty and security. The homeless and community activists slept in Allan Gardens located at Sherbourne St. and Gerrard St. E. for 120 consecutive days to protest against the housing crisis. The objective of the protest was to wake up all levels of government for all those suffering from homelessness.

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