New Hope Shelter in Leslieville opens as temperatures dip
By: Junisha Dama
A new homeless facility in Leslieville opened on Monday, in time for the next dip in temperatures expected to hit Toronto over the weekend.
The New Hope Leslieville Shelter has found a new location at Queen St. East and Eastern Ave. to replace the long-running Hope Shelter, which closed down in 2015.
The facility is the first homeless shelter in Ward 32.
“We’re trying to spread shelters across the city. It’s close to the beach, streetcars and transport are accessible,” said Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
In addition to the 60 beds, the men’s shelter has programs for medical support, counselling services and meals and is also close to community housing services to help them find a place to stay permanently and maintain their housing experience.
The rising need for shelters has led to a push to add more shelters outside the downtown core while also keeping downtown shelters accessible.
To ensure that people have access to transportation and other services, the east end seemed to be the perfect fit without straying too far from the downtown core.
“It’s also known that residents of shelters usually move into the neighbourhood permanently,” said Bradley Harris, executive director of the Salvation Army Toronto’s housing and homeless supports. “This requires shelters to be in areas that have services available easily and have affordable housing for those who would move into a permanent housing and leave the shelter system.”
The main challenge Harris said is finding a location and a building that can be renovated, clears all municipal requirements and has support from the local community.
“People usually have apprehensions because of experiences they’ve had in neighbourhoods that have existing shelters,” said Harris.
Lack of understanding and concerns of mental health are some other reasons that make communities oppose homeless shelters in their neighbourhood.
“It’s a mindset that we need to change with more education,” said McMahon.
However, the community eventually agreed to welcome in a shelter and contributed to naming it as well.
As temperatures dip lower, the need for the city to do more to house its homeless grows.
On Tuesday, city staff announced that a building at 354 George St. will open on January 29 to replace the Moss Park Armoury, which is currently open as a temporary emergency shelter.
Toronto’s 2018 Shelter Infrastructure Plan and Progress Report lists several other shelters that are looking for new locations.