Down­town neigh­bour­hood over­whelmed by respite shel­ter

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - — Sue-Ann Levy

Af­ter three com­mu­nity meet­ings in which they pleaded with city staff to shut the crammed 21 Park Rd. respite shel­ter and a re­veal­ing Au­gust re­port show­ing the shel­ter’s im­pact on the neigh­bour­hood, res­i­dents were in­formed Fri­day morn­ing that the shel­ter is a go again this win­ter.

In an e-mail writ­ten just days be­fore the Nov. 15 win­ter sea­son start date and one hour be­fore the divi­sion’s an­nounce­ment on the win­ter sea­son shel­ter plan, man­ager of shel­ters and com­mu­nity out­reach Nil­gun Erkoc in­di­cates the 30-bed shel­ter will re­main open due to the “on­go­ing high de­mand” for overnight emer­gency shel­ters.

Janet Lam­bert, a res­i­dent of the sur­round­ing Col­lier-Asquith neigh­bour­hood, said the shel­ter has ab­so­lutely “over­whelmed” their tight-knit com­mu­nity and even the home­less they once took care of are gone be­cause they “fear for their safety.”

She said the crammed shel­ter has at­tracted many “vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple” with com­plex med­i­cal and psy­chi­atric needs who have been preyed on by drug deal­ers, pimps and bike thieves.

“Th­ese peo­ple are fall­ing through the cracks,” she said, not­ing the shel­ter has been rife with drugs, bed bugs and gang ac­tiv­ity.

Their most re­cent in­ci­dent re­port showed pic­tures of fe­ces left on a res­i­dent’s fence and dirty nee­dles dropped in par­kettes that res­i­dents have es­sen­tially been left to pick up on their own.

Lam­bert pre­dicts the res­i­dents of the 21 Park Rd. home, where Os­car Peter­son once taught mu­sic, will be sup­plied nee­dles and will con­tinue this win­ter to shoot up out­side, with­out any re­sponse from Mar­garet’s (the op­er­a­tor) and city of­fi­cials.

She said res­i­dents are ter­ri­bly dis­ap­pointed with the com­plete lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the city from Au­gust un­til Fri­day.

“They’re just ba­si­cally say­ing you’re on your own,” she said. “They (city staff and coun­cil­lors) don’t care about neigh­bour­hoods any­more.”

LAM­BERT Home­les gone


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