What is the City hiding?

Shelter system in collapse, City refuses to release information on extent of crisis

As the City of Toronto continues to turn people out into the cold during a deadly pandemic, it is also withholding information about the severity of the crisis. Advocates have requested specific data about how many people are denied access to shelter, and the City of Toronto has refused to provide it.

“The City says it wants to be partners with the community, it says that there are beds available, it says it doesn’t need help – I don’t see why they won’t provide information about how many people they are turning away unless these things aren’t true,” says Street Nurse and member of the Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN) Steering Committee Cathy Crowe who contacted Shelter, Support and Housing Administration General Manager Gord Tanner requesting the data on Friday January 21th, 2022 and followed-up on Monday January 31st, 2022. She adds, “We know staff are very busy, but we are just talking about emailing an Excel sheet – it is far from onerous. It has been thirteen days and we still don’t have it; we have learned about several deaths outside of the shelter system since then.”

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Emergency Winter and Shelter Support and Infrastructure Plan

Date: October 12, 2021
To: Mayor John Tory, members of Toronto City Council, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
From: Shelter and Housing Justice Network
Wards: All

Download the Winter Plan

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.

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