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January 21, 2013
City of Toronto issues Extreme Cold Weather Alert and advises homeless people to seek shelter
The City of Toronto has called an Extreme Cold Weather Alert to make vulnerable homeless people aware of the dangers of staying outside too long in cold weather and to ensure they have safe and warm places to go. The alert is in effect until further notice.

An Extreme Cold Weather Alert is called to trigger additional homelessness services. Alerts are typically called in the morning for the coming overnight period so that community agencies have sufficient time to call in extra staff to provide enhanced services.

During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert:
• Shelters are directed to relax any existing service restrictions and are reminded that if a bed is not available at their site they are to allow the client to stay at the shelter until they are able to find a bed for them elsewhere in the system.
• The City of Toronto immediately adds 172 shelter spaces to those available to staff looking to refer a client to a shelter bed.
• Overnight street outreach is increased in the downtown core, focusing solely on warning people of danger and urging them to get into a shelter or another warm, indoor place. Workers will transport people to warm places if necessary.
• TTC tokens are available at some drop-ins so people can use public transit to get to shelters.
• More than 100 agencies are advised of the oncoming extreme weather and asked to relax any service restrictions they may have.

An alert is called when there is increased danger to homeless people from extreme cold weather or extreme winter weather conditions. It is usually called in the morning when Environment Canada:
• predicts a coming overnight temperature of -15 degrees Celsius or lower, without wind chill,
• issues a wind chill warning for outdoor activity for people in the Toronto area, and/or
• predicts extreme weather conditions such as a blizzard, ice storm or sudden drops in temperature.

How to get an emergency shelter bed any day, any hour:
Call 311 or directly contact the City of Toronto's Central Intake line within the Greater Toronto Area toll-free at 1-877-338 3398, or go in person to the Streets to Homes Assessment and Referral Centre, located at 129 Peter St. (at Richmond Street).

The Streets to Homes Assessment and Referral Centre is always open and has 24-hour street respite for those who do not want a shelter bed, as well as walk-in access to shelter beds throughout the system. Housing workers are available Monday to Friday to assist street-involved people to find permanent housing.

If you see someone who you think requires street outreach assistance, call 311. It is not an emergency number. In an emergency, dial 911.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More information is available at

Media Contact
Pat Anderson
Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration



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