Location: David Appleton Community Centre

Present

Residents: Jonathan Berges, Adam Cygler, David Fitzpatrick, Gabrielle Gillespie, Miriam Hawkins, Siobhan Kelly, Samantha Martin, Rebecca Morfee, Deane O’Leary, Marla Powers, Virginia Presseault, Heather Rollwagen, Stephanie Wilson

Agencies: Babur Mawladin (Jane Alliance Neighbourhood Services), Noel Simpson (Regeneration Community Services), Morris Beckford (Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services)

Councillors: Councillor Nunziata; Jennifer Cicchelli, Councillor Doucette, Gregory Denton

Staff: Costanza Allevato (Social Development, Finance and Administration (SDFA) and Meeting Chair), Tracy Campbell (Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA), Melody Brown (SDFA), Nicole Williams (Children Services), Ubah Tahalil (Shelter Support & Housing)

Facilitator: Michelle Dagnino (Lura), Niki Angelis (minutes)

Regrets: Alicia Freeborn, Hollie Pollard

Welcome & Introduction

  • Michelle Dagnino started the meeting by welcoming the group followed by a round of introductions. The purpose of today’s meeting is to seek the CLC’s input on which programs and services are a priority for the shelter.

Minutes & Business Arising

 No amendments to the meeting were reported.

Guest Speakers

Two members of the Oakwood Vaughan Community Working Group, Sue Sneyd and Lyba Spring, were invited to the CLC meeting to share their experiences with the Cornerstone Place Shelter Community Working Group.

The Cornerstone Place Shelter is a church-run, 50-bed men’s shelter with hours of operation of 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., offering meals, counselling, housing support and some healthcare.

Sue and Lyba outlined the initial opposition and neighbourhood concerns of opening the shelter in the Oakwood Vaughan community and how they overcame these obstacles. Through the use of media, writing to councillors, engaging neighbours, circulating petitions and the use of social media, the group was able to help dispel fears and stigma and rally local support for the shelter.

Through the community working group’s collaboration with the City and with support from Costanza (Allevato) and Nicole (Williams), they were able to make a number of recommendations to establish a well-supported shelter.

An open house was held for the shelter that invited neighbours to tour the facility to see firsthand how it was operated and the people it was servicing.
Q&A

Q: You mentioned a collaborative art project with the shelter residents; how did that work?

A: The Art Hive, a visual arts studio, was introduced into the shelter and they ran an art project during open house with members of the shelter. It was a great way to interact with the shelter clients. Art Hive carried on doing projects with the shelter clients on a weekly basis.

C: This is something I would love to see take place at Runnymede and would love to take part in it myself.

Q: Aside from city services, what other activities have the community provided with or worked with?

A: The community has no services, no community space, not even a doctor. There are a lot of vacant store fronts, a school that is underutilized and about to close and zero services. But because of recommendations, more services were brought in. We had a lot of ideas of services that we wanted to bring into the shelter but were advised to “hold on” by the Executive Director. The reason for this was to ensure the shelter was properly established first, get the clients comfortable and make sure services are in place before scaling up.

Q: If someone has steady employment, is there a mechanism that money paid to house these men could be paid back to them to help them put down a rent deposit?

A: There is a program in the city, where a person in need can apply for first and last month’s rent to be covered.

Presentation: CLC Contributions

Costanza led an informal overview of the CLC and its contributions and achievements to date:

  •  Council gave directive to work with councilors, neighbours and City agencies to develop a plan for the shelter that would meet the needs of the clients.
  • A CLC was formed and we approved the terms of reference, requested data and exchanged information/studies/research. We also visited a transitional shelter. An email address and website were created to create open and transparent information sharing. This information was also translated into Portuguese
  • The CLC discussed the appropriate number of beds for the shelter with a range of ideas discussed.
    • While no consensus was reached on the number of beds, there was agreement that there should be flexibility to respond to extreme weather conditions
    • Agreed that we should start small and build up and make sure essential services are in place and functioning.
    • Agreed that there should be a variety of room sizes available (with a maximum of 4 to a room)
    • Programs and Services discussed , commitments to date include:
      • Bookmobile
      • Potential for outreach worker through the LHIN
      • SSHA community space commitment
      • Community kitchen
      • Employment training
      • We have seen design ideas for the interior and exterior of the shelter (to be finalised after shelter approved and goes out to bid)
      • Developed a list of services and programs we would like to see at the shelter

Costanza thanked the CLC members for their commitment and efforts and the ability for the group to manage frank, open and respectful dialogue regarding the men’s shelter.

Councilor Nunziata thanked committee and residents and their commitment to attending seven meetings over the summer months to be part of the CLC. Thanks went out to her staff, City staff and agencies.

Councillor Doucette thanked the group for their commitment to the process. She learned so much about shelters through this experience and from the City Staff. She also thanked the guest speakers for taking the time to attend the CLC and explain their journey with the Cornerstone Shelter and their work to dispel fears. The Councillor is hopeful that the CLC’s work guide the city to do a better consultation when looking at their next location for a shelter in the future.

Small Group Discussion

CLC members were asked to provide input on priority services and programs to be offered at the shelter.

The programs and services identified by the CLC during the August 31st meeting were categorized by Health & Mental Health, Housing, Recreational and Other. Members were asked to identify their top programs and services that should be prioritized when opening the shelter.

This activity was followed by a discussion period, beginning with an overview from Tracy as to what supports are typically offered at Toronto shelters:

Access to mental health and addiction services (partnership with outside provider), weekly clinics

  • Doctors/psychiatrists, weekly visits
  • Medical room
  • Detox –  done on referral
  • AA/NA – Seaton House offers meetings that are open to shelter residents only
  • Hygiene services such as access to toiletries, and barber shop
  • Housing supports, central to case management work
  • Drop-ins are all over the city (about 50) geared towards the under-housed or homeless
  • Recreational services vary from shelter to shelter, but most do not have Wi-Fi or computer access
  • Employment services
  • ID clinics
  • Laundry
  • Transportation; tokens provided if need to access services or appointments

Trevor King, a former Seaton House client, took the time to speak to his experiences at the shelter and discussed services and programs that should be prioritized in the shelters.

The shelter experience offered him piece of mind and have him strength and hope during a difficult time.

Trevor agreed that mental health and addiction are a huge and important component of the shelter experience, but ultimately the clients must seek this help for themselves.

Life skills, ID clinics and libraries would also be very important services at a shelter as well as internet. However in his experience at Seaton House, that was not as much of an issue given the number of cafes or libraries that offer free Wi-Fi in the area.

In Trevor’s experience having a quiet space was very important.

One item or service that is missing is an “entrepreneurial component” (linked to employment).

Q: Are you in the shelter system still? Did it help you get on your feet?

A: I am not in shelter anymore. I was in it for 4 months and it 100% got me on track.

Q: Of other people you met while your time at the shelter, how many do you know that got rehabilitated?

A: Of the 50 or so that I knew almost all; maybe 3 or 4 stayed longer term. Usually people would stay around 2-3 months.

Q: What service or program had the greatest impact on you moving on from the shelter?

A: Counselling

Q: Based on your experiences, would you change about Seaton House or about the area?

A: At first I was afraid of the area, but once I became accustomed to it I got better. Personally, I didn’t like staying out after dark. But I felt safe in the shelter even in a room with about 40 men.

Q: If you could pick a room size, what would you prefer?

A: Ideal number would be 3 per room.

Q&A ended

Costanza thanked Trevor for speaking and opened up the floor to further discussion.

There was some concern that CLC members wasted their time prioritizing services or programs that are typically offered within Toronto shelters and that perhaps the emphasis should have been placed on other services. Costanza explained that while, for example, mental health and addiction services may typically be offered in shelters, by prioritizing them here today, City Staff can work with community partners to better coordinate services and advocate for expanded and enhanced services for the shelter.

What we have heard so far is that the CLC top 4 priorities include:

  • Mental health and addiction services (enhanced)
  • Housing supports (enhanced)
  • Wi-Fi, computer room (not standard)
  • Quiet room (not standard)Next Steps:

    • Take info you have provided and report to CDRC on Sept 20
      • We will report on what we have heard over the course of these CLC meetings and if there is consensus or not on items
      • We encourage you to come out to the CDRC and make deputations or send an email with comments to the CDRC clerk
      • Staff report will be made public before committee meeting
      • Report goes to council on Oct 5. Once approved, we will meet again (mid-October) to continue the work of the CLC
      • Plan is to hire Architect by December
        • If selected in December, another CLC meeting will be held early December, otherwise will meet again early January
        • If approved by Council, lease will need to be confirmed
        • More client consultations on design coming up once site approved by council.  CLC to provide input on exterior façade
        • The first meeting of the Community Safety Committee, September 16

    Q: Is there an opportunity for residents to speak at CDRC?

    A: Yes, please all come out and encourage neighbours to get involved

    Q: What number of beds with the report recommend?

    A: The number is still to be determined. We will present the range you provided, but emphasize that the group i)wants to start small and build up, ii) to offer flex beds in extreme weather and iii)that the shelter should have a variety of bed sizes (with no more than 4 to a room).

    Q: Does not having a confirmed number of beds work against us?

    A: No, staff will come up with recommendation based on your input and give best professional advice for council to make a decision on. Once the report is written and made public, the link will be sent to the CLC.

NEXT MEETING: To take place in October; date to be determined

Meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.