Still from SOMEONE LIVES HERE by Zach Russel

Someone Lives Here

by Zack Russell
Someone Lives Here is a modern-day David and Goliath story, set against the backdrop of North America's housing crisis.
2023  ·  1h15m  ·  Canada
English subs
About the Film

In October 2020, a carpenter named Khaleel Seivwright drove to a remote area of a Toronto park to build a small, insulated shelter.

On the front of the shelter, he posted two signs: “Anyone is Welcome.” and the details of a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising money to build more. His idea is simple: to provide unhoused people outside in the winter with tiny, insulated shelter that would keep them safe and warm.

The project soon attracted international attention. With Toronto’s homeless population rising, and a long winter approaching, many deem his shelters a life-saving measure. Donations to the GoFundMe surged. Before long, city officials take issue, and send Khaleel a cease and desist letter. Undeterred, Khaleel continues building and does his best to convince the world that his shelters are a viable interim measure for people living outside in the cold.

SOMEONE LIVES HERE follows the story of Khaleel, his tiny shelters, and their residents, over the course of one brutal Toronto winter. Featuring a diverse cast of characters – including government officials, city staff, former Toronto mayor John Tory, tiny shelter residents, and community advocates.

Narrated by Taka, a woman living in one of Khaleel’s tiny shelters in Toronto’s Alexandra Park, SOMEONE LIVES HERE captures an important chapter in the battle for the soul of a city.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Festivals and Awards
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Winner - Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Winner - Bill Nemtin Award for Best Social Impact Documentary
About the Director

Zack Russell

Someone Lives Here – Directors Statement:

In October 2020, I saw a news story about a local carpenter building tiny, insulated
shelters for unhoused people living in parks. I had never thought about making a
documentary, but for some reason I was struck with an image: a tiny shelter, perched on a
hill, in a blizzard, with a solitary voice coming from inside. A poetic image. Romantic,
peaceful… and incredibly na’ive. While many who lived in the tiny shelters may have
experienced some increased level of peace and security, there is nothing peaceful or
romantic about living in a box, in a city park, in the middle of winter. And there is nothing
romantic about Toronto’s failing shelter system and the way our city – and society at large
– treat people who don’t have housing.

The past two years have been eye-opening. I never anticipated the amount of violence,
death, and pain I would encounter, following Khaleel and some of the residents of his tiny
shelters. The learning curve was steep. But the community of people living in
encampments, and those who supported them, were incredibly generous collaborators.
This is my first documentary and the subjects in the film guided me through it. They were
patient teachers and I am lucky to know them. Most of all, I learned about my own values
as a filmmaker. The relationships I made while filming soon became more important to me
than the film itself. Looking back, I think the film is all the better for it.

Thanks for watching,
Zack Russell