January 3, 2018 Shelter Update

Dear Neighbours,

Further to my update yesterday, I would like to provide you with some more information.


The City has continued to monitor the situation and has seen that the demand for winter respite spaces continue to rise. And despite doubling the amount of spaces this winter, there are still signs of strain on the system.

That is why in addition to the actions the City has already taken, the City announced earlier today that capacity at the Better Living Centre will be expanded from 110 beds to 150 beds and the City will be opening a 7th Winter Respite Centre. The City has asked the federal government to confirm if the Moss Park Armoury can be made available to serve as the 7th 24-hour Winter Respite Centre for up to 100 beds until April 15.

Work continues as the City works to add 3 additional shelters in 2018 on top of the over 1,000 beds/spaces that have opened in the last year and the 291 beds scheduled to open this year in order to work towards meeting the shelter occupancy target of 90% that has not been met since being established in the early 2000s.

But adding shelter beds is just not enough and I believe there are three areas that the City with the support of our Provincial and Federal partners can continue to work on:

1. The continued implementation and expansion of a new shelter model to create First Step Housing opportunities through the work that Councillor Fletcher and I started in 2016/17 (You can view the report here: https://www.toronto.ca/.../cd/bgrd/backgroundfile-102629.pdf); 
2. The creation of more transitional and supportive housing that is fully integrated as a health care solution; and
3. Continue the City's expanded efforts to build more affordable housing through the Open Door Program and the unprecedented work and funding being committed to transform Toronto Community Housing. In addition to working with our Provincial and Federal partners on the newly announced housing benefit. 

I would like to thank the hardworking City and shelter staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to provide a safe, warm and accessible place to stay for homeless individuals and families. I would also like to thank the many advocates who have worked hard to help make improvements to the City’s housing system – it is truly my hope that everyone can work collaboratively in helping to find opportunities now and into the future.

In community,

Ana

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