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The Video for the Leaside Homeless Shelter Hoax Was Released – And It Isn’t Very Flattering

Last week, we told you about a little social experiment that was conducted on unknowing residents of Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood.

In case you missed it, residents of the affluent and insular, family-oriented neighbourhood were tricked into believing that a homeless shelter would soon occupy a prime piece of real estate on Bayview Avenue – their central retail strip.

On Friday, October 2, a sign appeared on a former Sleep Country store informing residents that the privately-funded Jefferson Homeless Shelter would open on Nov. 1, offering 62 beds and hot meals, run by a volunteer staff of three. It didn’t matter that the sighting of a homeless person in the neighbourhood – which sits off the subway line – was incredibly rare; they would all be bussed in, as the residents were told.

Apparently, the majority of the residents weren’t exactly too happy with the news.

The thing is, though, the whole thing was a set-up by local charity Raising the Roof, complete with hidden cameras and a fake voicemail service for Jefferson Homeless Shelter. It was designed to raise awareness of the city’s homeless crisis in advance of Election Day.

Anyway, it didn’t take long for the media to get wind of the whole thing, some of which poked fun of the neighbourhood and the “Bayview bubble” in which they live. In defense of the residents, some claimed that they were being stereotyped – and perhaps they were. Others said that few neighbourhoods would embrace such a venture, regardless of their socioeconomic status (and, sadly, I agree).

Some called the prank uncalled for and were certain that the upcoming resulting video would be manipulated to portray the residents in a negative light.

Well, it was released yesterday, and here it is:

Whether it’s manipulated or not, the thoughts and opinions selected and shared in the video are still those of local residents and business owners. What are your thoughts? What would your reaction to this be? Let us know on our Facebook page.


Erin Davis

Erin is a Toronto-based actor, writer and queen of the side hustle. When she’s not writing the day away in a face mask, she’s taking in the city’s vibrant arts scene, doing a red carpet interview or brunching with her leading ladies. Follow me: @erinnicoledavis