Community Liaison Committee (CCL) for New Hope Shelter
February 26, 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)
Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon – Ward 32 Beaches/East York
Nicolas Valverde – Councillor Fletcher’s Office
Emily Kovacs – Shelter Support and Housing Admin, City of Toronto
Gus Sandusky – Resident
Colleen Adl – Marigold Gardens
Terry Fagan – Resident
Anne-Marie Cassin – Principal, St. Joseph’s School
Shawn Pinto – Duke of Connaught Representative
Leigh Chapman – Resident
Joy Connelly – Facilitator

New Hope Leslieville Update (Bradley Harris, TSA)

It’s been a full two months! Since New Hope Leslieville opened on January 8, staff have been working hard to welcome residents and familiarize themselves with the building and management systems.

  • In the past two months, the shelter has served over 208 individuals. The shelter phased in operations, starting with 20 residents on the first day. By the second week, all 60 beds were occupied. In the first few days, many residents came from winter respite sites. Over the past two months: 40 per cent of clients came from another shelter; 10 per cent came from sleeping rough; 85 per cent have stayed in a shelter previously; 6 per cent have difficulty reading English; 75 per cent have a source of income such as employment or social assistance.
  • Staff conduct assessments to triage residents. Approximately 30 per cent can be considered “lower need.” These residents are able to find a new home with minimal support. Approximately 48 per cent have moderate support needs. 18 per cent could be described as chronically homeless and will need intensive supports and 4 per cent appear to have serious mental health issues. The Salvation Army uses a similar triage approach in all shelters, and collects similar stats to allow for outcome measurement.
  • On January 22, Minister of Health Eric Hoskins, Mayor Tory, Councillors McMahon and Fletcher, and representatives from the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TCLHIN) came to New Hope Leslieville to announce a shelter health services pilot project. (At the announcement the CLC’s Leigh Chapman and Minister Hoskins rushed to help a shelter
    resident who collapsed. The resident was taken to hospital, but is now back at the shelter.) South Riverdale Community Health Centre has been very supportive of the shelter. Discussions with the TC-LHIN about rolling out the pilot project continue.
  • On February 24, the Salvation Army hosted the shelter’s formal Official Opening. CLC members congratulated Shawn Pinto for his moving remarks on behalf of the CLC.
  • Next steps:
    • Setting the date for a Community Open House (likely in April) to allow neighbours to see the shelter from the inside and learn more about its operations
    • Developing landlord recruitment packages to locate new homes for shelter residents
    • Launching a program for people wishing to volunteer at the shelter (likely this summer)

Community Check-In – What’s Been Happening? (Everyone)

Joy asked the CLC members whether they had observed or heard of any problems associated with New Hope Leslieville. No problems at all reported from parents or staff at St. Joseph’s or Duke of Connaught Schools, Marigold Gardens, or Agnes Lane. Joy asked the same question to members of the CLC who could not be at the meeting – no problems from Sears or the business adjacent to the shelter. 55 Division reports that there has been “no identifiable increase” in incidents in the neighbourhood since the shelter opened. Councillor McMahon’s office has heard only from people who want to volunteer in the shelter. Joy has received emails or phone calls from three community members since the shelter opened: including the items raised in the next paragraph, and a lovely offer from the Bruce School Parent Council to prepare gift packages to welcome shelter residents.

There have been concerns raised from Brick Court about delivery vehicles blocking the laneway, increased litter and the risks of attracting wildlife, one man smoking pot while leaning against a garage along Sears, and another man smoking a cigarette in an alcove on the shelter’s north wall. A local business also had concerns about the behaviour of one person “acting out” on his premises.

Discussion

  • Bradley will meet with the local business owner and apologized for not following up immediately. The shelter is now developing systems for logging phone, email or walk-in contacts from the community and recording how they are resolved.
  • The shelter will aim to sweep the sidewalk in front of the shelter regularly and encourage shelter residents to be mindful of others.
  • A question about bikes on Leslie: do we need more places to lock them up? Councillor McMahon said she could order ring and post stands.
  • Colleen toured Angela, the shelter director, through the condominium’s underground parking. At that time, Colleen asked for a “one pager” to know what to do if she had concerns. The script Angela provided helped Colleen to “find the right words” and recommended a similar “one pager” in plain English and Chinese that would help local residents know what to do and whom to call if they have any concerns. Bradley said the shelter could develop such a tip sheet. The City also has information, including when to call 311 to access Streets to Homes support for people who may need help.
  • Bradley emphasized that it is the shelter’s aim to respect its clients, and respect its neighbours. If an issue is brought to the shelter’s attention staff will work with the client while respecting their confidentiality.

Promoting Good Communication and Problem-Solving (Everyone)

For concerns about shelter operations: Bradley said neighbours should just phone the shelter or come to the front door. Shelter staff can also share information with clients, such as a reminder that pot is not legal yet, and that there is a smoking area on-site they should use to smoke cigarettes.

If neighbours have concerns about individuals outside the shelter: call 911 in an emergency. For less serious issues, phone the shelter. CLC members noted that it’s a delicate balance. Legitimate concerns should not be dismissed, but not every issue is a shelter issue. The shelter is not responsible for people who are not on its property or liable because it is not offering shelter. Bradley noted the shelter requires the two overnight staff to stay in the shelter. They cannot leave the building. However, there are opportunities for staff follow-up of any issues during the daytime.

If you encounter someone acting oddly: City staff recommends “just make sure they are safe.” It may be their way of coping. As long as they are safe, there is nothing else you need to do.

Other Questions and Comments:

Q. Do clients have a safe space to store phones and other belongings?
A. Yes, each has a locker with room for two plastic bags. Most beds have an outlet where they can charge their phones.

Q. Are you planning on getting benches in the smoking area?
A. Bradley can investigate. He believes it was part of the original plan.

Q. Is a mural still being planned?
A. Yes. Bradley has had conversations with an artist and the City re: funding. One CLC member noted there is a beautiful mural along Sears that has not had any graffiti on it.

Q. When is the next meeting for the Maple Leaf Forever park group?
A. It has not been scheduled yet.

Q. During snowfalls, could we approach the shelter to offer work for a day to shelter clients? We could help each other.
A. Yes, it’s an idea that could be explored.

Q. Could the CLC the meeting include clients from the shelter?
A. It’s possible, although most shelter clients stay only a few days, so continuity can be challenging.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held in April, with a final meeting in June to have input into the City Council-mandated evaluation.