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March 23, 2009
Still time to sign up to volunteer for April 15 Street Needs Assessment
On the evening of April 15, 1,000 volunteers and about 300 team leaders will conduct the second Street Needs Assessment (SNA) in emergency shelters and on neighbourhood streets throughout the city.

“We are still looking for team leaders and volunteers,” said Iain De Jong, Project Manager for the SNA. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved in an important and complex issue.”

Torontonians clearly want to help. “We have all the people we need for the control group positions -- those engaged to ensure that the study’s methodology is upheld and that the results are valid and comparable to the data from the 2006 survey,” said De Jong, noting that this is a statistical device used in many such surveys.

It’s important that results be statistically reliable because the City takes action based on the survey findings. Input from the first SNA in April 2006 provided important information about the needs of homeless people to find and keep permanent housing. As a result of those findings, more funding has been provided to drop-in centres, people must be on the social housing waiting list to receive services from Streets to Homes (because at least then they are in the queue for rent subsidies), and 20 per cent of the federal funding for homelessness services has been directed to agencies providing services and housing for Aboriginal people in Toronto.

The vast majority of volunteers in the first SNA said their experience was good or very good. Many noted that they learned not to stereotype homeless people. “I thought I knew the streets well, but I learned that there is no ‘look’ to homelessness. It can be anyone,” wrote one volunteer on the feedback form.

Those doing the survey on the streets will be instructed to stop everyone they see, regardless of what they look like, to ask if they have a place to stay that night. If they do not, those people are asked to participate in the survey. Participants in a control group will be strategically placed to ensure that the screening question is asked consistently.

Those serving in the control group and acting as team leaders will receive $100 for their work. Both are required to attend training sessions. Team leaders need to have a background in social services and leadership experience. Most work in community agencies serving homeless and marginally housed people. Volunteers will be supervised by the team leaders, who will provide support and ensure adherence to the study methodology.

People in the control group for the evening of April 15 include acting students, people who have been homeless but who are housed and doing well, and professionals from social services agencies. They represent a cross section of ages, genders and racial backgrounds. They will be stationed on streets throughout the city on the evening of April 15 to ensure that the study’s methodology is followed.

Volunteers and team leaders can register at or call 416-397-5224.

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. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Patricia Anderson, City of Toronto, 416-397-4328,



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