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January 14, 2002
Update on the status of the City's emergency shelter system
  
Cuts to services provided to homeless persons living in City of Toronto
shelters could be avoided if the Province met its commitment to fund 80 per
cent of emergency shelter costs, said Councillor Brad Duguid, chair of the
City's Community Services Committee.

"The City continues to live up to its commitment to address the needs of
homeless individuals, but it cannot solve the homeless crisis alone," he said.
"Homeless persons need more than a bed and a meal. The Province of Ontario
should recognize the higher costs of the additional support that these
individuals require."

The Province of Ontario agreed to pay 80 per cent of emergency shelter costs up
to a maximum of $38 per bed per night, but it is actually paying the equivalent
of 65 per cent of overall costs. The average per diem cost for a city shelter
bed is $47. The difference between what the Province pays and the actual per
diem cost per bed to the City means that the City pays an additional $14
million annually for shelter beds. That money could be redirected to pay for
shelter services if the Province paid the full 80 per cent share.

The City provides innovative programs to people who use the emergency shelter
system. These programs prevent people from needing shelter service, help people
cope with life in a shelter, assist people moving out of the shelter system
more quickly and support people in the community to maintain their housing.

To address high occupancy levels in the City's single adult and youth shelter
system, the City continues to increase capacity. Since September 1999, the City
has added 802 beds to the single adult and youth shelter system, for a total of
3,168 beds, as of January 2002. It is adding new beds through permanent bed
development, expansion of existing shelter capacities and support for
winter-only programs. The budget for the City's Shelter, Housing and Support
Division represents 10 per cent of the total $2.8 billion City budget.

Fact Sheet: Affordable housing the long-term solution
Working together with other levels of government


- The City of Toronto cannot solve the homeless crisis alone. The Mayor's
Homelessness Action Task Force recognized that all levels of government must
collaborate to address homelessness.
- The Mayor and members of Council will continue discussions with the
provincial and federal governments on funding support for affordable housing
and homelessness.
- The new federal affordable housing program is a welcome first step. The
federal and Ontario governments are currently negotiating the program details.

Provincial per diems for emergency shelters

- The Province of Ontario pays 80 per cent of emergency shelter costs up to a
maximum ceiling of $38 per bed per night.
- Actual dollar contribution from the Province is, therefore, 80 per cent of
$38 or $30.40 per bed night.
- Average cost for a city shelter bed is projected to be $47 per bed night in
2002.
- The provincial share is equivalent to 65 per cent of overall costs, not 80
per cent.
- For the Province to pay the full 80 per cent share, an additional $14
million per year is needed from the Province.
- The $38 buys a motel room in Toronto with no supports or facilities.

Fact Sheet: City addresses the need for shelter beds

- The City of Toronto has a plan to address homelessness. The plan, which City
Council established in September 1999, calls for an increase of 675 permanent
new beds for youth and single adults.
- The plan aims to reduce reliance on temporary and seasonal accommodation by
creating permanent beds in the shelter system.
- The City of Toronto is close to its goal of creating 675 new permanent
shelter beds for single adults and youth and is continuing with plans to open
more shelters.
- Since September 1999, the City has added 803 beds to the single adult and
youth shelter system and has phased out 149 beds -- 654 beds net total to date
toward the 675-bed target.
- As of January 31, 2002, the shelter system has 3,168 beds for single adults
and youth.
- As of January 2002, 1,450 individuals were housed nightly in the family
shelter system. This represents a decrease of over 500 individuals compared
with levels last year.
- Access to shelter beds has been a longstanding issue raised by community
advocates. In response, the City is completing a review of all shelter policies
and procedures that focus on client access to the shelter system. This review
is being conducted in conjunction with shelter operators and community
stakeholders.
- The budget for the Shelter, Housing and Support Division represents 10 per
cent of the total City budget of $2.8 billion and is the City's second largest
expenditure (behind only that of the police).

Transitional housing

- Transitional housing creates the opportunity for people to move from
emergency shelter to housing with supports.
- In transitional housing people pay rent.
- Transitional housing helps people move from a situation of dependence to a
situation of independence.
- In transitional housing, people prepare themselves for the move to more
fully independent living.
- Each transitional housing unit opened helps reduce the demand for emergency
shelter beds.
- With financial assistance of the federal government through the Supporting
Community Partnership Initiative Program (SCPI), the City approved the
development of over 300 transitional housing units in 2001.

Fact Sheet: Shelter services a priority

- The City provides more than meals and a bed to people who use the emergency
shelter system.
- The City has developed a number of innovative programs to prevent people
from needing shelter service, to help people cope with life in a shelter, to
assist people in moving out of the shelter system more quickly and to support
people in the community to maintain their housing.

Examples of programs available:
- Housing Contacts, established in October 1999, assists families in the
shelter system to voluntarily move to affordable housing outside of Toronto. To
ensure successful integration into the new community, the program provides
follow-up support for one year or longer if necessary. On average, the program
has assisted about 1,000 people each year to relocate to other municipalities.
- Housing Matchmaker assists chronically homeless men and women in accessing
housing, including supportive and alternative housing providers. In 2000, the
project successfully housed almost 100 individuals, many of whom had been in
the hostel system for many years.
- Project Going Home assists individuals who are homeless or at imminent risk
of homelessness in returning to their home community. In 2001, the project
assisted approximately 800 individuals and families, 40 per cent of whom
returned to their home community.
- Housing and Community Follow Up funds 90 housing and follow-up workers
across the shelter system to assist residents with their complex housing needs
and support residents once they have re-established themselves in the
community. In the first three-quarters of 2001, over 2,500 individuals and
families were assisted in securing permanent housing.

Services provided at city shelters include:
- Life skills coaching - budgeting, cooking, cleaning, banking, shopping
- Organizing interpreter services
- Assisting children with academic work and self-esteem
- Crisis intervention with both adults and children
- Counselling supports
- Housing and employment assistance


Media Contact
Access Toronto
416-338-0338

 

 

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