The City of Toronto, with community leaders, has escalated efforts to respond to urgent shelter and support needs for asylum claimants. Following the July 19 motion by Toronto City Council, several City-driven initiatives, both big and small, are underway, including securing temporary emergency accommodations and facilitating public donations through the City’s DonateTO portal.
The City extends its sincere thanks for the leadership and mobilization of Black-led community and faith organizations in Toronto, who organized temporary shelter and provided food, clothing and a sense of community for the asylum claimants from African countries until more permanent solutions could be arranged.
The Council motion is available on the City’s website.
New shelter capacity
In response to Council’s direction to immediately make 150 shelter beds temporarily available, with an additional 100 spaces to follow, the City, with the support of the Canadian Red Cross, community leaders and agency providers, has surpassed the immediate goal of housing 150 individuals. Space has been secured at two hotels, as well as at a City emergency shelter location. As of today, 212 asylum seekers have been referred to indoor space. Work will continue this week to review space options to reach Council’s decision to make 250 shelter spaces temporarily available.
To support refugee claimants’ access to housing, the City is inviting property owners with available rental units to help provide much-needed housing for refugees. Refugee claimants will receive support to pay their rent from the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit.
Those wishing to donate goods and services, such as clothing, food or household items, or make a financial contribution are encouraged to give directly to local organizations and service providers. The City’s DonateTO webpage, includes a map of community agencies that directly support refugee claimants at emergency shelters and faith-based organizations, as well as other agencies supporting refugee claimants, including contact information and identified needs. Additional agencies will be added in the coming days.
Donors can also choose to give financial contributions to the City’s partner, United Way Greater Toronto, which works with community organizations directly supporting refugee claimants and asylum seekers focused on efforts by Black-led community groups.
In addition to connecting with community partners, through DonateTO, the City is welcoming partnerships with non-profit organizations, faith groups and other community agencies.
Across the City, Torontonians have continued to step up in incredible ways to welcome and support refugee claimants and asylum seekers. Refugees are an integral part of Toronto’s past, present and future success. All Toronto residents benefit from ensuring that individuals and families seeking asylum have safe homes and support.
The City welcomes the approximately $97 million the Government of Canada announced last week that will be earmarked for Toronto through the Interim Housing Assistance Program; however, it falls significantly short of what is required. The City has emphasized to its Federal partners that the need is $157 million and growing. The strain on the system is increasing and some of our current programs are simply not sustainable without the appropriate levels of support.
Toronto is home to more than three 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 climate action, 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.