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'Homeless Shelter' In Upscale Toronto Area Provokes Predictably Angry Responses

10/13/2015 07:12 EDT | Updated 10/13/2015 07:59 EDT

"Come on, you know these are all drug addicts and drunks. You ruining a perfectly good neighbourhood is absolutely absurd."

That was one of several negative responses to a prospective homeless shelter being set up in Leaside, an upscale neighbourhood that is home to some of Toronto's most expensive real estate.

But a shelter was never actually going to be situated there. It was all a stunt by Raising the Roof, a national non-profit seeking long-term solutions for homelessness.

The "shelter" was set up as part of a video that was released on YouTube Monday.

The organization carried it out by placing construction boards in front of an empty commercial space that used to house a Sleep Country Canada, then erecting a sign that said the "Jefferson Homeless Shelter" would soon be located on that spot.

Raising the Roof also set up a hidden camera and a phone line to register people's reactions. It then released the video seen above, with voices and faces anonymized.

One person called in and said, "I don't know what this is going to do to the real estate value. I'm a very tolerant person but this is really going over the edge."

Another: "How did you possibly, possibly get the permission to ruin a neigbourhood by putting a homeless shelter around here?"

The responses came following reports that some residents were left in tears with the news that the shelter would be situated in the area.

The video ends with a poignant question: "What would happen if we were this passionate about ending homelessness?"

In a news release, Raising the Roof said it never intended to "prank a neighbourhood," but to stir a discussion about an "issue that is so often overlooked."

"The organization wants to highlight that while they don't want there to be a need to build shelters or initiate other short-term solutions, there continues to be a demand," it said.

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