Red Door Shelter finds support from Toronto City Hall

ABOVE: (Jun 11, 2014) The facility for families in Leslieville has been in danger of closing after a real estate deal gone wrong. Mark McAllister reports.

TORONTO – A place long known for providing support to families in need is finding some support of it’s own.

The Red Door Family Shelter on Queen St. E. has been fighting for survival after a real estate deal gone wrong has put it’s future in jeopardy.

The property where the shelter now sits was recently put into receivership, with no guarantee it would continue to operate as part of any new development once it’s sold.

Toronto city council voted in favour of helping the agency with any business dealings including staying on site, relocating to a new location or establishing a title claim to the property if needed.

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“It’s critical,” Executive Director Bernnitta Hawkins said. “It provides a foundation underneath us in terms of negotiations with whoever we have to deal with.”

No financial committment would be required by the city at this point but assistance has already been offered by city staff to find a temporary location.

The shelter currently provides 106 beds for families who may be new to the country, evicted from their homes or victims of abuse. That represents 13% of the total permanent spaces available in shelters throughout the city.

Right now, negotiations are taking place with a potential buyer for the property. “We are looking at being incorporated into the development,” Hawkins said.

The occupancy rate for the shelter is between 95 and 97 per cent on average.

A petition has been posted online and was presented to city council with 50,000 signatures. It reads, “that a refuge for homeless families is more important than condos.”

“It hasn’t even been bought yet,” local city councillor Paula Fletcher said. “I think what we’re signalling today is tremendous support from the community, which has been matched by a unanimous vote by city council.”

The shelter’s lease was to end in March 2015 but an extension has been negotiated with the receiver for a couple of years.


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