Meeting took place at Fort York Residence

Residents

Marla Powers, Heather Rollwagen, Rebecca Morfee, Hollie Pollard, Miriam Hawkins, Siobhan Kelly, Alicia Freeborn, Gabrielle Gillespie, David Fitzpatrick, Adam Cygler, Stephanie Wilson, Deane O’Leary, Virginia Presseault, Samantha Martin

Agencies

Morris Beckford (Access Alliance Multicultural Health & Community Services), Babur Mawladin (Jane Alliance Neighbourhood Services), Jan Barr and Jeff Attenborough from Toronto Police Division #11

Councillors

Councillor Nunziata, Jennifer Cicchelli, Councillor Doucette, Gregory Denton

Staff

Costanza Allevato (Social Development, Finance and Administration (SDFA) and Meeting Chair), Sandra Sierra (Minute Taker), Tracy Campbell (Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA), Ubah Tahalil (SSHA), Tarik Bacchus (SSHA staff from Fort York Residence)

Regrets

Sandra Almeida (Four Villages Community Health Centre), Noel Simpson (Regeneration Community Services)

Item/Discussion Action
1. Welcome and Tour

  • Staff from SSHA welcomed the group to the Fort York Residence, a transitional shelter for 100 men with a focus on employment. This shelter was chosen for the tour because it is the City’s newest shelter development, even though it is approx. 20 years old, but the variety of services it offers can be also included at the Runnymede shelter.
  • CLC members were provided with a tour of the shelter.
2. Q&A after the Tour
Q: Are there problems with the clients sleeping in the same room?A:  Sometimes there are issues among clients due to personality conflicts.  We try to place clients in rooms where they may be more compatible with other clients.  But if a problem arises, we would have a conversation with the clients to get a sense of what the trigger might be, so we can support them better and help to resolve any conflicts. The biggest trigger for a shelter client is being interrupted while sleeping.Q:  How many types of rooms do you have in this shelter?A:  It varies shelter to shelter, but in Fort York Residence we have 4 types of rooms: Private units, 2 men rooms, 4 men rooms and 8 men rooms .We have one room that accommodates 2 men who are newly arrived. Once they are assessed, then they are assigned to a room.Q:  Can you tell us the square footage for the rooms.A:   I don’t know the exact sq. footage for each room but I can tell that for this location the rooms are within 400 sq.ft.  The size of each room has to follow the Toronto Shelters StandardsQ: How do you characterize the emergency shelter and the transitional shelter in terms of daily operation?A: An emergency shelter supports people in crisis. The residents at Fort York, a transitional shelter, are at a more stable point, but most of them come from an emergency environment.  This is a shelter where the clients focus on employment. With emergency shelters, the focus is more general and they address the variety of issues faced by clients.  Aspects of the operation that don’t differ is the assessment that is conducted by Case Managers for every client who enters a shelter, prior to a client’s full integration to the shelter.Q:  How would you design a shelter to reduce incidences? A: One of the challenges is having old buildings with too many people occupying a small space, especially when they are sleeping.  At our shelter we check the case plan every day to see if there are signals for problems so we are proactive.  It would be an identical process at the Runnymede shelter.Q: The men staying at this shelter, where are they coming from?

A:  From several places, the largest referral comes from emergency shelters and hospitals.  Those clients that have employment as their focus are referred to this shelter, but we take anyone who needs a shelter and then we develop a service/case plan with them to meet their needs.

Q:  How do you chose a person for this shelter program?

A: Clients may be referred or they come on their own. Many residents in Toronto live with some mental health issue, so people using this shelter may also have mental issues or issues with addictions.  We create programs to identify where they are on the employability spectrum and assist them to achieve employment, and if they are employed, we even connect with their employers to support the client at work.  Not everyone in this program is successful, but staff monitor the service plan to make any adjustments as needed.

Q:  What exclusions do you have?

A:  It is determined in the 1st Assessment.  If the client states that they cannot focus on employment related matters, then we refer them to another program.  Example, if somebody is 55 years old and not sure if the employment is going to be his path, then we would refer him to another program.  In another case, if the client needs support upgrading his skills or learning new ones we will support them until we can and we may refer them to outside agencies.

Q: What is the most common emergency situation in the shelters?

A:  Aside from the social determinants/indicators of health, eg. Poverty, it could be a mental health episode, or challenges faced by clients as they age.

Q:  If there is violent behaviour and the police get involved, where do these people go?

A: All staff are trained in de-escalation, but if there is a situation that cannot be managed, the police is called.  We may refer a client to another shelter, but no one is excluded from the shelter system. As well, if there a service restriction, it gets reviewed and there is an appeal process, but there is an obligation from the shelter to secure a bed for that client.

Q:  What would you recommend as helpful and positive types of services for a shelter program?

A:  Services such as health services, employment services, settlement, etc.

Q: What is happening on George St?  A person was recently killed at that emergency shelter.

A:  [Note that the death did not occur at the shelter site.] Staff from Police Division #11:  I have worked with the Police for more than 29 years and my experience is that at emergency shelters you see people with mental health issues, drug addiction and there may be petty crime such as loitering, drinking, but you don’t see major crime issues at shelters. We encourage residents to document concerns they have for one week and send the information to us. Once we receive the information, we review and a police team will go to the area more frequently for a period of time to resolve the issue. A member of the CLC stated that he works in the prison system in Ontario, and people who are getting out of prison and want to commit a crime are not interested in going to an emergency shelter. They don’t want to be in a place that is supervised and managed.  They will go elsewhere.

3. Minutes of last meeting and business arising

  • Aug 10th meeting minutes were approved and will be posted on website
  • Terms of Reference were approved
  • SSHA staff will reach out to invite a shelter client to participate on the CLC
  • Members of the Oakwood Vaughan community working group are happy to meet with the CLC to share their experiences
  • RFQ for the third party facilitator was awarded to LURA Consulting
  • Update was provided on Council motions
  • Email address has been established for public to send their input:  731runnymedeCLC@toronto.ca
Facilitator will be attending next meeting Staff will invite reps from the Birkdale and Oakwood Vaughan CLCs to the Sept. 7th meeting.
4. Data requests
Several data sets were requested by CLC:

  • SSHA stats regarding mental illness and addiction challenges faced by Toronto’s homeless population: SSHA does not keep client stats on mental health and addictions. It is up to the client to disclose to staff. However, staff will see what info they do have and get back to CLC
  • Copy of the needs assessment that was completed by SSHA: Staff have requested permission from the agency that conducted the study for approval to share the results publicly since the study was not done by SSHA.
  • Summary notes from the SSHA consultation with Seaton House clients
  • A list of the committee members and roles to reference during the meeting: This was provided to the committee but each member has to provide consent to have their emails posted publicly
  • Crime stats related to size of shelters (CLC member offered to research): Member reported she could not find any research on this, but will keep looking.
  • Emergency response times in the neighbourhood: The data is not in one place, so staff will follow up with Police, EMS and Fire separately.
  • Daily occupancy in shelters
Staff will continue to follow up with the data requests
5. Establishing work groups

  • The first meeting of the Community Safety Committee (CSC) will take place on Friday September 16th from 7 to 9pm at the David Appleton Community Centre. It will be led by staff from the City’s Community Crisis Response Team and Streets to Homes. Officers from Police divisions 11 and 12 will participate.
  • Each CLC member was asked to distribute flyers to their neighbours to encourage resident participation. The flyers will be posted on the website.
  • The mandate of the CSC to address issues of safety and security in the neighbourhood with a focus on the underpass, rail tracks and to conduct and safety audit of the park.
  • Neighbourhood Wellbeing Committee: Staff reported that a local network already exists for the Rockcliffe-Smythe Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA) as part of the Toronto Strong Neigbhourhood Strategy (TSNS), led by the Community Development Officer, Ann Clarke. A proposal will be brought to this network to ask it to consider meeting in the evenings, so more residents can participate, and to include parts of the Junction (west to Jane St. south to Annette Rd) as part of their study area. A member of the CLC expressed concern that Rockcliffe-Smythe does not have as many resources and doesn’t want to take away attention from the service needs in that community. Councillor Doucette explained that the aim is not to take away investments from Rockcliffe-Smythe, but to share Junction resources with Rockcliffe-Smythe.
Flyers to be distributed by CLC members and posted on website Costanza to follow up with the Rockcliffe-Smythe TSNS network table.
6. NEXT MEETING: August 24, 2016 at David Appleton Community Centre, 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

  • The focus of the next meeting is to recommend an appropriate number of beds for the shelter. The architect will be invited to listen to comments and incorporate ideas into drawing for the following meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm

Staff to invite architect Steve Hilditch from Hilditch Architects to next meeting.