By Julianne Fox
There were new questions Friday about the city of Toronto’s action plan against homelessness after Montreal changed its approach.
“You can see that we’ve got a long way to go, but we are pulling in the right direction,” says Patricia Anderson, the manager of the Housing and Homelessness Services of Toronto.
Montreal presented a new three-year action plan on Thursday to tackle its homelessness problem.
The plan for Montreal is to inject an extra $1 million a year for the next three years into the annual budget to deal with the issue.
The city aims to create an up-to-date census of the homeless by counting how many people are in shelters or on the streets. This is an attempt to know what their specific needs are.
Toronto has a similar plan to help get people from the streets permanently.
Toronto Housing and Homelessness Services want to be more client-centered with greater focus on service integration says Anderson. Housing is first priority for the plan because shelters are not appropriate housing for people.
Toronto Housing has been in place for many years now, and has created a rudimentary system for itself, says Anderson.
“The planning framework is an attempt to plan our path forward in the next 5 years to improve that system,” says Anderson.
According to Anderson, Toronto Housing has a mandate to help people find and keep a permanent house. They then try to provide whatever support is necessary for people to remain in the housing.
Their goal is to ensure there is a system in place that focuses and pulls in the same direction.
“Permanent housing has to be the goal as it helps with mental health,“ Andre Ceranto says, Coordinator at Fife House, an emergency shelter dealing with people who live with HIV and AIDS. “Homelessness has increased in the city and enough is not being done by the city to combat this issue.”
Ceranto cited increases in rent and lack of affordable housing as a major cause of homelessness
The last Street Needs Assessment on Toronto was done in 2013. The overall homeless population estimated for Toronto was 5, 219, one per cent higher than the 2009 estimate.