News Release - September 17, 2021: City of Toronto final costs of enforcement of trespass notices in City parks

Budget

The City has budgeted to spend $663.2 million on homelessness and Housing First services and supports in 2021, almost double the amount spent in 2019 at $365.8 million.

Referrals to safe, inside space

The City continues to assist and protect people experiencing homelessness through COVID-19 vaccination, an increased focus on infection and prevention control (IPAC) measures in the shelter system, a pilot COVID-19 rapid testing program for new admissions and referring people to safer inside space with supports including meals, laundry, harm reduction and access to a housing worker.

The City has referred more than 1,670 people (as of June 7) staying in encampments to safe, inside space since April 2020, including 203 this past month (as of June 3).

Since July 2020, City and partner agency staff have engaged more than 19,000 times with people living outside, including those staying in encampments

There are more than 6,000 shelter spaces in the city today. 

As of today, there is capacity in the shelter system for people staying in encampments who accept offers of safe inside space. 

As of June 3, Parks Ambassadors had made 619 referrals to Street to Homes for people experiencing homelessness in parks. 

As part of the City’s response to COVID-19, the City of Toronto has opened more than 25 new temporary sites to create physical distancing in the shelter system and provide space for people to move indoors from encampments, providing around 2,600 spaces in new temporary shelters and hotel programs.

This is in addition to 75 base shelter sites. 

Clients are offered options to come inside to available space in a shelter or hotel program with meals, showers and laundry, harm reduction, physical and mental health supports and connection to a housing worker to develop a housing plan.

Number of people referred from encampments to safe, inside space:

June 11, 2021: more than 500 from 4 Pathways Inside Program (PIP) sites 

  • Trinity Bellwoods Park estimate at least 67 referred inside from May 2020 to June 11, 2021.
  • Alexandra Park estimate at least 79 people referred inside May 2020 to June 11, 2021.
  • Moss Park estimate around two people at least 238 people referred inside May 2020 to June 11, 2021.
  • Lamport Stadium at least 120 people referred inside May 2020 to June 11, 2021.

Permanent Housing

From April 2020 to April 2021, the City has helped 5,518 people experiencing homelessness move from the shelter system into permanent housing.

Since the start of 2020, Streets to Homes and partners have supported approximately 400 people living outdoors to move into permanent housing (as of June 3).

Affordable/Modular Housing

Since mid-December 2020 the City has opened 244 new affordable and supportive homes with supports, including 100 modular housing units.  

Currently, there are 82 projects in the City's affordable rental development pipeline, which will create 10,676 new permanently affordable rental homes once completed.

Over the next 12 months, the City is aiming to make at least 1,248 new permanent affordable and supportive housing opportunities ready for occupancy. This includes 798 net new affordable and supportive rental homes under the HousingTO action plan.

Shelter supports

Meals, laundry, shower facilities, addiction, harm reduction and mental health supports, access to a housing worker

To help save lives and reduce overdoses in the homeless population, the City launched a comprehensive toolkit of harm reduction resources for shelters to provide expanded support for overdose prevention. The toolkit will help equip shelter operators, who have been at the frontline of the overdose crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic response, to implement life-saving measures and support Toronto residents who are affected by the opioid poisoning crisis.

Vaccines

All shelter locations have now had at least one vaccine clinic offered on-site.

To date, more than 7,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to people experiencing homelessness and who are precariously housed, as well as staff working in the homelessness and housing sector through on-site clinics in the shelter system, or through a mobile clinic.

As of June 4, 53 per cent of people staying in the City’s shelter system that week have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 safety in shelters

The City is committed to decreasing the risk of outbreaks in the shelter system and continues to provide enhanced supports to ensure immunization and IPAC measures – already established in these settings – are being followed and, where necessary, improved upon.

There has been a steady reduction in COVID-19 outbreaks over the last few weeks.

As of June 11, there are 0 confirmed outbreaks within the City’s shelter system.

The City is piloting a rapid antigen testing program at priority sites for new admissions, including sites that offer spaces to people living outside and in encampments.  

  • Rapid antigen testing, which provides a screening result within fifteen minutes, is another important step the City is taking to support and protect people in the shelter system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health and safety issues in encampments

The health outcomes for people who stay outside are complex and serious. Individuals living in encampments are also at risk of contracting COVID-19. 

There have been 100 fires incidents in encampments so far this year (as of June 3).

Recently, Toronto Fire Services cleared 24 propane cylinders and other flammable and combustible materials, including gas cans, at a makeshift encampment near the Don Valley Parkway.

In 2020, Toronto Fire Services responded to 253 fires in encampments – a 250 per cent increase over the same period in 2019.

Restoring parks and enforcement

Encampments contravene several chapters of the Municipal Code and are not a solution to unsheltered homelessness.

The City’s response to encampments takes into consideration the health and well-being of those living outside and the broader community needs, including access to green space for safe outdoor recreation during the pandemic, and upcoming summer parks programming and permitting requirements including for summer camps.

City parks must be ready, safe and accessible to all residents of Toronto. In particular, parks give residents living in apartment buildings or shared housing spaces a safe outdoor space to play and exercise.

The City has an interdivisional response to encampments that is being coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management. The City’s objective is to ensure that people experiencing homelessness feel comfortable accepting offers of safe inside space with supports and referrals to permanent housing, through efforts to immunize people experiencing homelessness, enhance IPAC measures in the shelter system and work with those living in encampments.

The City will enforce bylaws at encampments after exhausting all options to help people move from encampments to safer, indoor spaces. Space remains available for all those living in encampments in the City’s shelters and its hotel program.

The City has referred more than 1,670 people (as of June 7) staying in encampments to safe, inside space since April 2020.

On Saturday, June 12, the City is issuing trespass notices at four sites: Trinity Bellwoods, Lamport Stadium, Moss Park and Alexandra Park notifying encamped individuals that they should comply with all applicable City by-laws.

Prior to enforcement at encampments, outreach workers attend the site to people  staying outside options to move inside with their belongings. This might include access to shelter or housing. Learn more about encampment outreach and response. Once an encampment is vacated, the site is cleaned by City staff.

The City has an interdivisional approach to ensure enforcement action is coordinated.

General information on the COVID-19 response within the city’s emergency shelter system, outreach, housing support, sanitation and washroom services, and many other COVID-19 resources. Visit www.toronto.ca/COVID-19

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