The Better Living Centre adds beds for Toronto’s homeless
By: Joe Amodio
The City of Toronto is taking steps to deal with its homeless crisis by transforming the Better Living Centre at Exhibition place into a shelter.
John Tory announced on Thursday the Better Living Centre will be used as a 24/7 shelter for those that need it most as the temperatures drop.
The 2,000-square foot building located just across from BMO Field will be equipped with approximately 20 beds and host about 100 people today. More beds are expected to be added in the new year.
In a press release, Toronto Councillor James Pasternak said homelessness is a real issue for the city.
“Homelessness is becoming the social crisis of our time. It is incumbent on the City of Toronto to do everything in its power to restore dignity of those who are suffering and save lives, the opening of the Better Living Centre is another vital strategic move in this direction. Thanks to the mayor and city staff for leading and supporting this initiative,” Pasternak said.
According to the City of Toronto there are more than 16,000 people who used the city-administered emergency shelter system in 2016. Eleven per cent of shelter users stayed for more than a year, using 61 per cent of capacity.
“We are moving as quickly as possible to address the unprecedented demand on the shelter system,” Tory told reporters.
The move to open a new shelter was introduced after city council approved a plan this month to spend $10.6 million to add 400 new beds to the city’s new homeless shelters.
Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has previously said that 400 new beds will not do enough to address the crisis, however councillor Joe Mihevc, said it is definitely a step in the right direction.
“This new respite service will help us move towards our goal of dramatically reducing occupancy rates. Our next step will be for staff, council and the community to focus on getting the permanent shelter beds open, and in the longer term, to ensure supportive housing is available,” Mihevc said.