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February 11, 2002
Extreme cold weather alert called
  
The City issued this extreme cold weather alert to the media on Sunday,
February 10.

Toronto Community and Neighbourhood Services --- Toronto's Director of Hostel
Services has issued a cold weather alert to help get homeless people in from
the cold. The alert is effective for February 10, 2002 until the morning of
February 12, 2002.

An alert goes into effect when Environment Canada:
- predicts a temperature of -15 degrees Celsius or lower, without wind chill
- issues a wind chill warning for outdoor activity for people in the
Toronto area
- predicts extreme weather conditions, such as a blizzard or ice storm.

Under the alert the following extra services are available to help
homeless people:
- additional emergency sleeping spaces in Toronto hostels/shelters
- increased street patrols by Anishnawbe Health Street Patrol to reach
homeless people
- distribution of TTC tickets through over 50 drop-in centres and
outreach agencies to help homeless people reach shelters
- emergency transportation through the Canadian Red Cross for homeless
people trying to reach services/shelters.

The Street Helpline service at 416-392-3777 also operates 24 hours a day to let
homeless people and front-line workers know where to find shelter and other
services. Members of the public can also call this number if they see a
homeless person sleeping outside.

This is the sixth year the extreme cold weather plan has been in place.

Last year, alerts were in effect for 12 days. "These alerts are a temporary
measure to help us ensure that homeless people across Toronto have access to
shelter when their lives could hang in the balance," said John Jagt, Director
of Hostel Services with Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support.

"The alerts do not alter the need for solutions to homelessness in
Toronto. But by co-ordinating our efforts and temporarily increasing some
services, it is at least one step in providing critical services to some of our
most vulnerable citizens."

Mr. Jagt chairs a designated alert team that meets regularly throughout the
winter to monitor conditions on the street. Team members include
representatives from Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support, Toronto Public
Health, Emergency Medical Services, the Out of the Cold Program, Street
Helpline, Anishnawbe Street Patrol, Youthlink Innercity, Toronto Red Cross and
the Toronto Police Service.

Members of the public and businesses who wish to donate blankets, food and
services, or volunteer their time throughout the winter, are invited to call
the following numbers:

Money: United Way of Greater Toronto 416-777-2001
Clothing: Chill Out 416-934-1227
Food: Daily Bread Food Bank 416-203-0050
Time: Community Information Toronto 416-397-INFO

For information on the extreme cold weather alert program, please see the web
site at www.city.toronto.on.ca/co
ldweatheralert
.

Backgrounder

Services for homeless people in the City of Toronto
The City of Toronto provides emergency shelter, street outreach, drop-ins,
eviction prevention and hostel diversion programs. Crisis programs alone will
not resolve homelessness. Much more must be done to address the underlying
causes of homelessness and increase the supply of affordable housing.

The following is a summary of City of Toronto services for homeless people.

Hostels
The City of Toronto funds approximately 60 emergency shelters for homeless
families, single adults and youth, with a total capacity of about 4,600 people.
In addition to shelter beds and daily meals, City-owned or funded hostels
provide personal needs allowance, case management, counselling, job and housing
search services, children's programming, follow-up and harm reduction services
for people with addictions and/or mental health issues.

Out of the Cold:
Approximately 40 churches, synagogues and agencies and one hospital provide
accommodation for an estimated 160 adults and youth at different locations
every night of the week. The City of Toronto funds the Out of the Cold program
to cover staffing, administration and to co-ordinate the services of Out of the
Cold member organizations.

Community Support

Street Outreach:
The City of Toronto, through various funding programs, provides funding to
community-based agencies to provide services for homeless people. These
agencies provide street outreach, information and high-support referrals to
people living out of doors. The City 's priority is to help people on the
street gain access to shelter, housing, drop-ins and other homeless programs
and services.

Drop-ins:
More than 30 organizations provide drop-in services for homeless people
year-round. Drop-ins provide entry points to the health and social service
system, as well as to employment and housing opportunities. They often function
as a substitute home for many single homeless and socially isolated people by
providing refuge from the cold and a place to rest, have a meal, take a shower,
do laundry and meet people. They also help people with health and mental health
problems through on-site nursing services and crisis intervention.

Prevention:
The City provides support for community-based agencies to help individuals
obtain and/or retain affordable, adequate and stable housing. Services include:
housing vacancy information; tenant-landlord mediation; counselling on housing
issues including eviction prevention; advocacy with income support programs;
and community follow-up. In the first half of 2001, these agencies worked with
3,495 clients and assisted 1,143 (33 per cent) in retaining or finding housing.

Co-ordination:
The City helps plan and co-ordinate the homeless service sector through a
number of advisory and consultative committees such as the Advisory Committee
on Homeless and Socially Isolated People, Alternative Housing & Services
Committee, Rooming House Work Group, Aboriginal Steering Committee, and Refugee
Housing Task Force.

Health
Several organizations work with homeless people on physical and mental health
issues throughout the year, including Street Health, St. Michael's Hospital and
the Gerstein Centre.

Let's Build
"Let's Build" is an action-oriented program established by the City of Toronto
to help get affordable housing built. Since the spring of 2000, Let's Build has
helped put more than 650 affordable housing units in the pipeline. Toronto
Council has adopted production targets of 1,350 housing units for the period of
2001 to 2003. With more help from the federal and provincial governments, more
units could be built more quickly.

Information Services
Community Information Toronto (CIT) at 416-392-3777 operates Street Helpline
year-round to help homeless people gain access to shelter and services. CIT
also provides general information about services through its Blue Book -- the
Directory of Community Services in Toronto -- and a general inquiry line at
416-397-INFO (4636).


Media Contact
Access Toronto
416-338-0338

 

 

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