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Open Letter To YWCA: Stop Evicting Tenants Through COVID-19

An open letter to the YWCA from Maggie's Toronto in solidarity with tenants organizing at YWCA's Elm Center against COVID-evictions. Attend the Landlord and Tenant Board hearing at 1pm/est Wednesday, July 9th here. We are writing today to express our solidarity with tenants organizing through THRIVE after learning that the YWCA Elm Center is currently seeking a court order to evict those who have lost their income through the pandemic. We are writing today because our communities have been uniquely targeted through the pandemic, discriminated against, evicted from their homes, turned away from local shelters and pushed to live outdoors. We believe everyone deserves access to safe and secure housing and have seen the devastating consequences of eviction on our communities through the pandemic.

The YWCA Elm Center has built its mission around improving the lives of women and gender diverse communities providing secure, stable and affordable housing. This most recent move to swiftly evict working class women from their homes in the midst of a deadly global pandemic clearly contradicts this mission and endangers the health, safety and livelihoods of those facing eviction. The threat of evictions at YWCA Elm Center has been so great through the pandemic, that tenants have collectively organized through THRIVE, supporting one another in response to recent threats of eviction from the YWCA’s Elm Center. Learn more about tenant concerns and THRIVE's demands here.

We are writing today to express our complete and unwavering support for these tenant organizers and all of THRIVE’s demands. We also appeal to the YWCA as an organization supporting gender diverse communities, low-income communities, and those facing a wide-range of structural barriers and oppressions. Now more than ever our organizations must live up to their human rights mandates and support our communities through such a devastating moment. We call on the YWCA to live up to its mission and stop targeting tenants with evictions in the midst of a deadly global pandemic.

We join THRIVE in calling on the YWCA to treat its tenants with dignity and care through the following commitments:

  • Withdraw all COVID arrears eviction applications against tenants. Negotiate with them outside of the LTB to come to a resolution without the threat of eviction hanging over their heads.

  • Offer rent relief to tenants to cut down the amount of rent owed due to the consequences of the pandemic. YWCA has made commendable financial commitments to its staff and the same consideration should be given to the tenants.

  • Commit to no COVID evictions for rent arrears and stop the practice of threatening tenants with eviction. N4 notices have traumatic impacts on communities who have experienced homelessness and/or precarious housing.

Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project is one of the nation’s oldest sex worker justice organizations serving Toronto’s downtown east end since 1986. We exist in the heart of our city’s housing crisis, serving sex workers, including those living in encampments, our city’s overcrowded shelter system and those navigating poverty, criminalization and other intersecting forms of oppression. We know that sex workers face heavy discrimination, stigmatization, and surveillance when trying to access safe housing, and are vulnerable to mistreatment and evictions. Our movement for human rights demands that community members are able to live, work and thrive in their communities free from criminalization, discrimination and targeted violence including targeted evictions. We call on the YWCA to negotiate in good faith with tenants organizing through THRIVE and show up for tenants in the same ways staff have been considered through the pandemic. Please follow tenant organizing directly on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with their work and calls to action! Connect with us at for resources & supports related to evictions, accessing legal support, etc.

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