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November 7, 2006
City of Toronto wins prestigious affordable housing award
  
Innovative program provides homeless men with emergency shelter, affordable transitional housing, life skills, and employment supports - all under one roof

The City of Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division today accepted a 2006 Housing Award for Best Practices in Affordable Housing from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The national award, one of 16 bestowed at an event in Ottawa today, is in the Housing with Resident Services category. It recognizes the City’s creative Fort York Residence, a transition to work and housing facility that assists homeless men to move from shelter, to transitional housing, to permanent housing in the community. Through its innovative building design and holistic case management approach, clients are helped to find and maintain employment, access educational and volunteer opportunities, and develop the skills and resources they need to live independently in the community. Anne Longair, Director of Hostel Services, accepted the award on behalf of the City of Toronto.

“We’re honoured that CMHC would recognize this imaginative combination of shelter, housing and employment support services as a best practice in affordable housing,” said City Manager Shirley Hoy. “We’re very pleased to share our experience with other communities across the country and look forward to learning more about the development of new affordable housing communities from the other winners.”

“Fort York Residence provides an inviting environment where homeless men can work toward stable employment and housing, can find a safe place in which to set goals, and sharpen the life skills and the job skills that will see them through job training programs, and then onto long-term employment and housing,” said Phil Brown, General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, the City division that provides homeless services and administers social housing in Toronto. “It is a program that provides hundreds of homeless people in Toronto with the helping hand they need to reconnect to the community.”

Fort York Residence is a satellite program of Seaton House, the City’s largest shelter for men. The federal government’s Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative invested more than $3 million of the $4.7 million construction expense. The City funded the remaining costs and donated the land, at the time worth approximately $1.3 million. As with all shelters, operating costs are covered by per diem rates shared between the City and the Province.

About Fort York Residence
Fort York has 74 dormitory-style shelter beds and 24 self-contained bachelor units as transitional housing, along with workshop and meeting space, and a computer lab. A first of its kind in Toronto, it has shelter, affordable, rent-geared-to-income transitional housing, life skills and employment supports - all under one roof. Designed by architect firm Joe Lobko Architects, the building, which is located on reclaimed City land at Bathurst and Front Streets in the downtown area, was built in partnership with a City of Toronto childcare facility, which is located next door.

Since accepting its first residents in January 2004, more than 275 homeless men have entered the program, with about 68 per cent of the men being employed when they moved out and about 60 per cent moved into permanent housing.

About Transitions to Work Pilot Project
This program, which is based at Fort York and funded by the federal government’s Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative program, includes workshops and training in such skills as financial management and communications. The program also involves an employment councillor and a job developer who work with men living at Fort York Residence one on one. The program develops partnerships with community agencies and educational institutions. A partnership with George Brown College provides clients with an opportunity to attend the pre-apprenticeship program in six trades. To date, one resident has completed the electrician training, one the chef’s course, and three more have just embarked on the training program for electricians.

The Transitions to Work Pilot Project recently received a bronze award at the 2006 Public Sector Quality Fair.

For more information about the awards, visit http://www.cmhc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/index.cfm.

For more information about Fort York and Transitions to Work, including a virtual tour of the facility, visit http://www.toronto.ca/housing.

Media contact:
Patricia Anderson, City of Toronto Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, 416-397-4328


 

 

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