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February 3, 2009
Extreme cold weather services now in effect for homeless people
The City of Toronto has activated additional support services to help get homeless people in from the cold by calling an extreme cold weather alert. The alert is in effect until further notice.

While City services for homeless people are focused on permanent housing, when severe winter weather is forecast, the priority becomes one of immediate safety.

Year-round, the City funds extensive services for people who are homeless, including emergency shelters, drop-in centres, Streets to Homes assistance to find and keep permanent housing, housing help and 24 hour street outreach services throughout the city. Throughout the winter, more services are available.

During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, street outreach workers continue to urge the homeless to go inside and provide transportation to shelters for overnight respite. In addition to ongoing outreach, during an alert:
• Street outreach is increased, focusing solely on warning clients of danger and transporting them to warm places
• TTC tokens are available at a number of drop in centres so people have transportation to shelters
• More than 100 agencies are advised of the impending extreme weather and reminded of the danger this poses to vulnerable clients
• 160 additional shelter spaces are added
• Shelters relax service restrictions.

An alert is called 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, and/or
• predicts extreme weather conditions, such as a blizzard, ice storm or sudden drops in temperature.

How to get an emergency shelter bed:
• Adults and youth requiring a shelter bed should call 1-877-338-3398 (free from a pay phone), 24 hours.
• Families needing emergency shelter should call Central Family Intake 416-397-5637, 24 hours.

For more information, visit

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

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



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