"Where Will the People Go" - Toronto's Emergency Housing Program and the Limits of Canadian Social Housing Policy, 1944-1957

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Canadian cities dealt with a growing housing shortage while the federal and provincial governments argued over who would implement the provisions of the 1944 National Housing Act. This was particularly true in Toronto. As Torontonians celebrated the construction of Regent Park, Canada's "Premier Slum Clearance and Public Housing Project," nearly 1,350 Toronto families were housed in dilapidated old army barracks and staff houses. Until Regent Park, the shelters were Toronto's only rent-geared-to-income housing project. This article challenges the assumptions that Toronto's homeless were "shiftless welfare bums" and examines the strategies shelter residents used to survive the often brutal conditions in which they lived and how they hoped to escape them. Finally, it argues that the inability of municipalities to replace emergency shelters with decent affordable housing reveals the long-standing reluctance of Canadian governments to develop social-housing programs to eliminate homelessness. (abstract from http://juh.sagepub.com)

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Journal of urban history