The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee advocates for more shelter beds while waiting for permanent housing solutions, as well as improving conditions in existing shelters.
More and more, we are hearing reports that shelter occupancy levels in Toronto and across the country are close to 100% or higher. For example, even though the City of Toronto has the "objective of maintaining the occupancy level of the emergency shelter system for adults and youth at no more than 90 percent," occupancy levels in the single adult and couples shelter system have consistently been over the 90% target since May 2001 (still accurate in Spring 2005).
TDRC estimates that there are over 1000 people sleeping outside each day, and there is no disagreement by any expert that there are over 200 people sleeping outside. Improving conditions in existing shelters to ensure a safe, warm environment, including opening up new facilities to reduce the crowding, will help people come inside.
Created over 15 years ago as a temporary measure, the Out of the Cold program offer meals and shelter to hundreds of homeless people across Toronto during the winter months. However, each spring, when the Out of the Cold Program closes, those homeless people can no longer access those beds, resulting in more people sleeping on the streets. TDRC wants to see these overnight Out of the Cold beds replaced with permanent shelter beds.
Currently there is a shelter located at 321 Jarvis Street, operated by Central Neighbourhood House. It is scheduled to close on April 26th 2005. TDRC wants this shelter relocated to a permanent site now.
What you can do:
- Contact your city councillor and tell them you are concerned that homeless people lose overnight beds each spring, that there is a need for more permanent shelters in this city, and you want to see shelters for the homeless in your neighbourhood. A list of all city councillors contact information is available here.
- Contact Phil Brown, the General Manager of Shelter, Housing and Support for the City of Toronto (phone 416-392-7885, fax 416-392-0548, email SHS@toronto.ca). He needs to hear that people in Toronto are in support of more shelters, ones that are safe and healthy to live in. Tell him to immediately relocate the shelter at 321 Jarvis Street. Tell him to keep 110 Edward Street (the 2004-2005 winter shelter) open as a permanent shelter. Given that currently only a fraction of this building is being used, tell Phil Brown to create additional shelter beds and transitional housing units within 110 Edward Street.
Past Shelter Issues:
TDRC's letter to Phil Brown, General Manager of Shelter, Housing and Support for the City of Toronto (2003)
Open the Armouries Now (2002)
1000 More Beds (2001)
Why Open the Armouries? (1999)