A new refuge for home­less women in the An­nex

Toronto opens new shel­ter amidst crit­i­cism

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Jes­sica Wei

When the tem­po­rary home­less shel­ter at 348 Daven­port Rd. in the An­nex opened in Fe­bru­ary, it was cham­pi­oned by the lo­cal coun­cil­lor, as well as area celebri­ties such as Adri­enne Clark­son and Mar­garet At­wood. De­spite some crit­i­cism from the lo­cal res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion, the respite cen­tre re­mained open through the win­ter and closed on May 25. The space will be turned into a women’s shel­ter, with a par­tial open­ing sched­uled for the end of this year.

“There is a huge need for shel­ter ser­vices for women in the city,” said Pa­tri­cia An­der­son, with the City of Toronto’s Shel­ter, Sup­port & Hous­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion. “Eighty beds will be avail­able as of the end of this year.”

In 2019, Phase 1 of the open­ing will un­fold, with around 30 more beds for new clients.

How­ever, some home­less ad­vo­cates have felt that the City of Toronto has not done enough to com­bat the ris­ing num­ber of home­less peo­ple on the streets.

“We are in the midst of a deadly cri­sis of home­less­ness,” said Yogi Acharya, from the On­tario Coali­tion Against Poverty (OCAP). “More than 100 peo­ple died last year, and we’re on track to have the same record this year, or worse.”

Acharya and his team at OCAP took hid­den cam­eras into three of the city’s home­less respite cen­tres this past win­ter, in­clud­ing the Daven­port site. They found con­di­tions Ach­warya de­scribed as “de­plorable.”

“You see peo­ple are crammed in one giant room,” he said. In many sites, there were ei­ther too few wash­rooms or wash­rooms that were miss­ing doors.

“The Daven­port shel­ter had no toi­let. They were us­ing a porta-potty that was bounded out­side,” he said. “When I called the man­ager to get some­body a place, she cau­tioned against go­ing to Daven­port be­cause there was no hot wa­ter there.”

In a re­port put out by the city om­buds­man last March, the om­buds­man, Su­san E. Opler, found that the nine win­ter respite sites vis­ited by her staff were deemed to be “in­con­sis­tent and/or in­ad­e­quate.”

The Daven­port shel­ter had no toi­let. They were us­ing a porta-potty out­side.”

They also found that “the in­door tem­per­a­ture at one site was un­ac­cept­ably low,” a con­clu­sion that was also con­sis­tent with OCAP’s find­ings.

“The in­ter­nal tem­per­a­tures at these respite sites were rou­tinely at 15 de­grees,” said Acharya.

Last month, the City of Toronto an­nounced that it had se­cured three new tem­po­rary respite struc­tures, which will be op­er­a­tional this win­ter. The ac­ces­si­ble struc­tures are mod­u­lar, with in­su­lated all-weather walls and plumbing and heat­ing, with din­ing and com­mon ar­eas. Each struc­ture should ac­com­mo­date 100 peo­ple.

The tem­po­rary respite site at 348 Daven­port Rd. when it opened this past win­ter

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