Community Liaison Committee (CCL) for New Hope Shelter
May 2, 2018

Maple Leaf Forever Cottage, 62 Laing Street

For more information: Joy Connelly, 416-466-2371

Hope Shelter Community Liaison Committee Meeting Participants

Bradley Harris – Executive Director, Toronto Housing & Homeless Supports, The Salvation Army (TSA)
Angela Hutchinson, Director, New Hope Leslieville (NHL)
Emily Kovacs, Shelter Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto
Maureen Houlihan, Shelter Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto
Nicolas Valverde – Councillor Fletcher’s Office
Maximillien Longuet – Councillor McMahon’s Office
Anna Marziliano – Local property owner
Carl Calendra – Resident
Gus Sandusky – Resident
Joy Connelly – Facilitator

Introductions

Maureen Houlihan introduced herself. She is the Housing Consultant, Housing Stability Services, responsible for overseeing all Salvation Army housing and homelessness initiatives funded through the City. She will be the City staff person assigned to New Hope Leslieville, while Emily Kovacs will be assisting the development of other new City-funded shelters.

New Hope Leslieville Update (Angela Hutchinson)

It’s been a busy opening — especially in a winter with an unprecedented rise in homelessness. Over the past four months since it opened, New Hope Leslieville (NHL) has served 268 people:

  • Eighty per cent are Canadian citizens, nine per cent are landed immigrants, with the remainder with varied refugee status.
  • An increasing number of shelter residents are chronically homeless. Most NHL residents – 85 per cent have stayed in a shelter before; 41 per cent are moving to New Hope Leslieville from another shelter; and 14 per cent have become homeless because they were evicted from their home.
  • Shelter staff found permanent homes for eight residents – a positive result considering Toronto’s rising rents and the below one per cent vacancy rate.
  • All NHL beds are filled through the Peter Street Shelter Assessment and Referral Centre (the City of Toronto’s centralized shelter access system) rather than through walk-ins. The shelter is full every night.
  • NHL has an elevator. However, it requires a staff person to operate the elevator, so when there is a choice, people in wheelchairs are referred to shelters such as The Gateway that are fully accessible.

At a recent meeting, shelter residents opened the meeting by applauding shelter staff. They told us we are a bit different from other shelters, that the staff are caring and are responsive to their needs, and pay attention to the little things, such as providing toiletries and socks, listening to residents about the timing of lights-off.

Discussion:

Q. Can you give more information about the shelter’s model?
A. When a client arrives, NHL uses a simple triage interview to determine their needs: do they have mental health or addictions? How long have they been homeless? Have they recently been evicted? Do they have ID? Source of income? Those who have lower needs – for example, if this is the first time they have been homeless – are assisted by the shelter’s front line staff. Clients with higher needs work with a Case Manager to secure support services. The shelter’s Housing Worker will learn more about their housing needs, help them find a permanent home and, depending on the needs of the client, ensure supports are in place to enable them to keep their home.

Q. What is the difference was between transitional housing and NHL?
A.  NHL sees itself as an emergency shelter with a mandate to get people housed and stay housed. NHL is open to anyone, and clients can keep their place as long as they need it – they don’t need to re-apply.

Transitional housing is typically associated with a skills-development, harm-reduction or other program. Residents must apply and fit the program’s mandate, and stays are often time-limited. Transitional housing is usually physically different from shelters – rooms rather than dorms – and is resourced differently.

Q. Would NHL play a role in a mass rooming house closure, where 20 people could be homeless at the same time?
A. City staff noted the Fire Department’s protocol is to work with the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Division to relocate rooming house residents to ensure they don’t end up in the shelter system. We need to be honest that we have an unprecedented homelessness situation. The City is looking at every alternative for housing.

Community Check-in – What’s been happening? (Everyone)

One CLC member had observed more drinking and urinating in Maple Leaf Park, and more grocery carts left on the street. These concerns were present in the neighbourhood before, but have increased since the shelter opened without any additional City supports for the community. They asked who they should be calling.

Angela said that some local residents have sent us photos of people they have seen in the park. The people in the photos have not been our clients. But if they were, we would talk with them. She also noted Constable John Morrice has increased police rounds to the park.

Bradley noted that the Streets to Homes outreach van works in this neighbourhood. They can drop by to see people who are on the streets. Bradley plans to go himself in the van soon.

Emily said 311 has a designated line to report anyone who appears to be homeless during extreme weather. In non-extreme weather, you can call 311 and ask to be connected to Streets to Homes.

Other CLC members said they had no concerns, and had not observed any changes, positive or negative, in the neighbourhood.

Evaluation Report (Emily Kovacs and Maureen Houlihan)

The City has completed 90 per cent of its obligations under the City Council motion that approved the shelter. The only outstanding items are funding to support the shelter’s health model (this funding is a provincial responsibility) and completing the shelter’s six-month review of operations to be led by the City in consultation with the Salvation Army and with input from the Community Liaison Committee.

Discussion:

CLC members felt that it was not necessary to have another CLC meeting, but that it might be helpful to email a brief survey to CLC members to collect their views. The evaluation will be completed in June or July.