Toronto’s first Street Needs Assessment is an important step in ending homelessness|
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Overwhelmingly, homeless people want permanent housing and the assistance to get it.
Toronto’s first Street Needs Assessment provides sound information to improve programs and services and work toward ending homelessness in Canada’s largest urban centre.
Using statistical methods proven in other jurisdictions, a minimum of 5,052 people were estimated to be homeless on Toronto’s streets, and in ravines, parks, shelters, health care facilities, and correctional institutions on the night of April 19, 2006. This number does not reflect the “hidden” homeless, those staying temporarily with family or friends.
“The information gathered on which services Toronto’s homeless people use and what we need to do to help these individuals find permanent housing is tremendously important,” said Mayor David Miller. “The findings confirm that we are moving in the right direction with our Streets to Homes initiative - which has now found permanent housing for over 700 formerly homeless people directly from the street.
“I’m especially proud that so many Torontonians volunteered to conduct the assessment,” he added. “It demonstrates what a terrific level of civic engagement we enjoy in this city.”
Mayor Miller noted that federal investment in innovative initiatives in Toronto has made a significant difference to the lives of those without homes in this city.
“The returns on this investment warrant continued funding by Ottawa in Toronto’s plan to end street homelessness,” he said.
The current federal commitment to services for homeless persons is slated to end March 31, 2007.
The Street Needs Assessment, a snap shot of Toronto’s homeless population, cost $90,000 and involved the participation of community agencies, City staff and 750 residents who each volunteered close to five hours on the night of April 19, 2006. The Street Outreach Steering Committee, made up of representatives from many community agencies and City divisions, provided input and guidance to staff of the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division (SSHA), who actually developed and conducted the survey, and assistance on refining the survey and methodology.
“Because of the Street Needs Assessment, for the first time we have a much clearer picture of homelessness in Toronto,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) and Chair of the Community Services Committee. “We now have a benchmark against which to gauge our success in our real goal: to end homelessness.”
The overall response rate to the survey was 43 per cent, which is very good for a survey of this type. “Clearly, this demonstrates that homeless individuals want to have a direct voice in identifying their needs,” said Phil Brown, SSHA General Manager. “And overwhelmingly, they tell us they want permanent housing.”
A staff report outlining the results and key indicators from the survey will be discussed by the Community Services Committee on July 5. The report will be considered by City Council at its July 25, 26 and 27 meeting. The full staff report is available at http://www.toronto.ca/housing.
Members of the media are invited to attend an availability regarding the survey with Councillor Joe Mihevc and Phil Brown, today at 1 p.m. in the Members’ Lounge at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W.
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