Someone Lives Here review — An essential document of our times

Directed by Zack Russell | 75 min | ▲▲▲▲△ | on Crave

A documentary portrait of Khaleel Seivwright, a Toronto carpenter who responded to the homeless crisis in his city and built dozens of tiny homes, sheds really, where people could find privacy, safety, and a bit of warmth. His efforts earns him support from his fellow Torontonians, who support his efforts and allow him to rent a warehouse so he can increase his output. That puts him in direct opposition with the city and its fire marshals, who say the structures are unsafe.

We hear from a few of the residents who are managing to survive thanks to these tiny structures. They may not be thriving, but they are managing to get by. We also hear the voiceover of a woman who spends an entire winter in a park thanks to one of Seivwright’s shelters. We also hear the voices of elected officials, the people who push back, and many of the social workers who advocate for people who have so little power.

This is an entirely unfussy, terrific documentary about the difference one person can make in trying to help other people. It also serves as an indictment of the failure of the multiple levels of government to help citizens experiencing homelessness, and the failure of our entire society and its so-called social safety net.

The film lays out with stark clarity a national shame that Canadians, people living in one of the world’s most wealthy countries, still haven’t solved this issue. When people die, this is on us.

When I see what’s happening here in my own city of Halifax, where the issue is no better than it is in Toronto, I’m proud to say I’m half Danish. It’s a northern nation so much like Canada but with a fraction of the geography. You’d think given how much space we have we’d be more comfortable sharing it with the most vulnerable in our society, to somehow make available a room with a kitchen and bathroom and a door that locks to those who need it the most.

Somehow Denmark has managed to provide this to almost every citizen thanks to serious investment in public housing. It means taxes are higher than here, but the result is a more equitable and compassionate society. It’s a more successful process of wealth redistribution. This isn’t an impossible problem.

As the woman narrating in the documentary, says. “So much food, how is anyone hungry?”

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.