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RSS FeedsKevin Dickman died a broken man, homeless and alone in a city grappling with a housing crisis
(The Star Toronto Raptors)


9 november 2019 13:52:52

Kevin Dickman died a broken man, homeless and alone in a city grappling with a housing crisis
(The Star Toronto Raptors)

Paula Tookey always knew she would end up at Kevin Dickman’s funeral.She also knew his death would be as heartbreaking as his life.Dickman’s body was pulled from the Don River on Oct. 5, a month after he lost his housing — again. He was 62.He struggled with mental illness and homelessness for most of his adult life.“You hated being homeless — being dirty, tired and cold. Being alone,” Tookey said, addressing Dickman’s pine casket in the chapel of the Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home on Sherbourne St. on a grey afternoon last month.“You often broke into schools and garages to sleep. You were in and out of emergency rooms, and in and out of jails for years. Decades,” said Tookey, who befriended Dickman in the early 1990s when she was working at the now-closed StreetCity transitional housing project.“I loved you Kevin. We loved you,” she continued as several dozen homeless support workers sat solemnly in the wooden pews, some weeping openly. “But I couldn’t promise that it would get better. For people like you, it rarely does.”Dickman is among scores of homeless people who have died in Toronto this year, including more than 30 who used the city’s shelter system, which has been running at or near-capacity since the summer.On Thursday evening, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) held a vigil outside the city’s Peter St. emergency shelter referral centre where Dickman lined up nightly — often in vain — for access to a bed. Capacity has doubled in four years to over 7,000 permanent beds and about 600 temporary and respite spots. And still people are turned away.The coalition is demanding the city open 2,000 new shelter beds to prevent more deaths this winter amid Toronto’s worsening affordable housing and homelessness crisis.The city, which released its winter shelter plan earlier this week, plans to add almost 500 new permanent and temporary beds. But ...

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