Date: October 12, 2021
To: Mayor John Tory, members of Toronto City Council, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
From: Shelter and Housing Justice Network
Rather than establish another inadequate winter plan that leaves people in the cold and City staff scrambling, community advocates and researchers have drafted a reasonable and adequate Winter Plan and Plan for Moving Forward: Spring 2022 and Beyond. This plan would help the shelter system begin to transition towards a dignified, safe system and move more people into housing in the short term and create housing in the long term. In addition, this report presents key elements to understand the reality of unhoused people, housing crisis and shelter system in Toronto, as well as some of the most common barriers they face when trying to access social services or the shelter system. As seems to be evident, the shelter system is in crisis. It is over capacity, denies people, as a matter of course, and leaves people out in the cold.
There are significant equity and social justice concerns in the Toronto Shelter System that these plans and the corresponding report attempt to address and mitigate. In particular, Indigenous people, BIPOC people, 2SLGBTQ people, disabled people and refugees are all disproportionately homeless. Much of women’s homelessness tends to be erased through City of Toronto policy, making many women ineligible for homelessness programs.
There is an ongoing housing crisis in Toronto that has contributed to a 60 percent increase in homelessness since 2013. City of Toronto policies have been inadequate in addressing this crisis and its underlying causes.