City of Toronto’s homeless shelters prepare for a long winter

by | Nov 9, 2015 | News

Toronto preparing for another long, winter season

Homeless man in Toronto. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

By Alex Drobin

There are more than 45 homeless shelters in the GTA preparing for yet another long winter season, but the difference this year is a shift to the inner suburbs.

Sarah Anderson, Senior Manager of Community Relations at Daily Bread Food Bank said part of the reason behind the shift is an increase in downtown housing costs.

“Housing is getting more expensive, especially in the city core,” said Anderson.

“People are getting pushed out to the inner suburbs, where housing is maybe a little more affordable, but in the whole context of things its expensive right across the board.” she said.

A annual study conducted by the Daily Bread food Bank in September 2015 showed a 16% decrease of total client visits to food banks in the city core, but a 45% increase in the inner suburbs.

In the introduction to that study, Executive Director Gail Nyberg said food banks in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough are ‘bursting at the seams.”

“Although we haven’t fully recovered from the 2008 recession, there are indications we could be facing another one,” she said.

According to the City of Toronto website, there were more than 5000 homeless sleeping outdoors and in emergency shelters in 2013.

In December 2013, the City of Toronto introduced a Housing Stability Service Planning Framework to combat and prevent homelessness in Toronto.

Some of the key actions include developing a comprehensive eviction prevention strategy with private sector landlords, and maintaining a strong emergency shelter system.

One of the main reasons people get forced from their homes is due to lack of affordable housing in the city’s core, according to the Housing Stability Service Planning Framework.

The City is preparing for the increase in homelessness through additions of emergency housing services, as well as conversion of already-built infrastructure, Anderson said.

Non-profit organizations like the Daily Bread Food Bank distribute food to shelters across Toronto, and they are coming up to their busiest season.

“December can be quite a heavy month for everyone and there is a lot of pressure for families who are on lower incomes to be able to provide something that looks like a nice Christmas for everyone.” said Anderson.

The Daily Bread Food Bank prepares for harder times through various holiday food drives and corporate donations.

“Our big ones are the ones that just passed this Thanksgiving, our holiday drive and our spring drive.“ said Anderson.