Yesterday, the City of Toronto successfully referred 12 people staying in an encampment at Trinity Bellwoods Park to either a shelter or hotel program, with an additional two people returning to the park this morning who accepted referrals to safe, indoor accommodations. Today, the City continued removing debris from the encampment site.
Nine people in the encampment left the site yesterday, declining offers of support or service. A further eight people, whom outreach workers had come to know at the encampment, were unable to be contacted.
In total, approximately 60 structures, including tents and wooden sheds, have been removed from the park. Fencing was erected yesterday by the City to protect City crews and encampment occupants, as well as to allow crews to safely remove debris and begin the task of restoring and repairing the park grounds for general public use.
Belongings and valuables that people staying in the encampment were unable to take with them are being safely stored by the City for up to 30 days. Occupants were able to take two bags with them if going to a shelter or hotel.
Approximately 17,000 kilograms of debris have been cleared from the park, including a large generator, knives, propane tanks, and thousands of discarded needles.
After several months of engagement with encampment occupants to encourage them to come inside where they have access to meals, laundry, medical and social supports, and a housing worker, the City enforced trespass notices yesterday that had been posted on Saturday, June 12.
As outlined in the recent City Manager’s report to City Council, encampments contravene several chapters of the Municipal Code and are not a solution to homelessness. The health outcomes for people who stay outside are complex and serious. Individuals living in encampments are also at risk of contracting COVID-19.
The risk of fires is also high. There have been 114 fire events in encampments so far this year, including nine in the past week. In 2020, Toronto Fire Services responded to 253 fires in encampments – a 247 per cent increase over the same period in 2019. The risk of serious injury or death to occupants of encampments, as well as to first responders and the public, as a result of fire, is extremely high.
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 shelter residents and referring people to safer inside space with supports. More information is available in the June 18 news release .
Since mid-December 2020, the City has opened 244 new affordable and supportive homes, including 100 modular homes. 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.
To this end, over the last several months the City has announced nine new supportive housing projects representing more than 700 new homes across the city, through acquisition and renovation of existing properties or modular construction on City-owned or controlled lands. A map and information is available online .
The City also recently announced a partnership with University Health Network Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine and United Way Greater Toronto to create 51 modular supportive homes in the Parkdale neighbourhood to provide programs and services following the Social Medicine model.
Bringing people inside means there are fewer people outside struggling to survive.
Supportive housing offers a warm, safe place to call home; the necessities of life such as food, washrooms, and laundry; and the opportunity for strengthened community connections.
All occupants of encampments and residents in shelters, including the hotel program, are assigned a housing worker to help them move from a shelter into secure permanent housing.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
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