Winter Plan to address growing shelter and housing crisis

Shelter Housing Justice Network releases evidence-based Winter Plan to address growing homelessness crisis

Press Release
October 12
What: Press Conference
When: Tuesday, October 12, 12:30 (following the Homeless Memorial)
Where: 19 Trinity Sq, (by the south steps in front of the Homeless Memorial)
Important: Please wear a mask and physically distance

A group of experts including scholars, front-line workers, people with lived experience, and community advocates have thoroughly examined the City of Toronto’s homelessness policy and shelter system. They have documented their findings in a, roughly, 60-page report – published by SHJN. Based on their assessment, they have arrived at a Winter Plan for the City of Toronto to enact immediately. Each Winter Shelter, Support and Housing Administration puts forward an inadequate Winter Plan. The City has scrambled to add unplanned spaces because of this poor planning. To avoid the repeated planning failure, address the ongoing crisis and systemic inadequacies and injustices SHJN is calling for the Winter Plan and the plan for the spring and beyond to be fully implemented.

The rate at which people without housing are dying keeps increasing each year. Shelter residents deaths are 78% higher in the first 8 months of 2021 over 2019. This injustice disproportionately impacts Indigenous and Black people in Toronto. 63% of all unhoused people in Toronto are BIPOC. The number of people in Toronto that die of an overdose who don’t have housing keeps rising. In 2019 the number of people who died of an overdose was 10, in 2020 it was 46. As a result of sky-high rents, gentrification, lack of RGI housing and an overflowing shelter system thousands of people suffer and many die preventable deaths. In addition, our city is still in the midst of a global pandemic. Shelter outbreaks are ongoing. Many services are still suspended and indoor space isn’t accessible for hundreds who live in encampments.

If all the demands in this winter plan are not met, the community will organize and agitate until the basic needs of unhoused people are met.

Key Demands

  1. Immediately incorporate 2,250 permanent, non-congregate shelter beds into the system.
  2. Repeal the ‘no camping’ bylaw.
  3. Extend shelter-hotel leases.
  4. Increase the target of newly attributed housing allowances in 2021 from 1,440 to 3,000.
  5. Freeze all evictions with the emergency powers of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
  6. Issue an inclement weather alert when necessary and open inclement weather sites during alerts.
  7. Implement COVID-19 indoor air quality safety measures and ensure full transparency at every shelter system site

Speakers will include:

Zachary Grant, Community Director Holy Trinity

Greg Cook, SHJN, Outreach Worker at Sanctuary

Livestream: Will be at the same link as the Toronto Homeless Memorial


Media Contacts:

A.J. Withers:

Greg Cook: