TORONTO — The only youth shelter in Scarborough has closed its doors and supporters are speaking out about what they say is the loss of a vital service to the local community.
Second Base Youth Shelter’s board decided to close the 60 bed shelter due to funding problems.
They had initially set a closing date for Oct. 20, but the doors were abruptly locked on Oct. 1.
Large signs displayed in the windows of the now-closed shelter tell youth to call 311 for services if they need a shelter.
Former board members are astounded at the early closure, but Board Chair Sherwin Modeste said they had found placements for all of their residents by that date so it didn’t make sense to remain open.
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But the closure doesn’t sit well with one former resident, 19-year-old Madison Seto.
“The first time I came here, the minute I walked in the doors I felt so welcomed, it was something new, I’ve never felt in my life,” she said, adding that she went to Second Base Youth Shelter in tears in February and found a home, support and friends.
“It honestly made me so relieved at the end of the day because sleeping on the streets is no way to be.”
The facility had served Scarborough youth for over two decades and one former board chair said closing it broke a promise made to youth.
“We care what happens to them, we care that they are on the street right now, or couch surfing, or sleeping in the back of vans or stairwells,” said Marika Goode.
“We’re Canada, this is Toronto, come on!”
Supporters said it’s time for the city to step up, take over and reopen the shelter.
“Beds are empty in a youth shelter system that is already overburdened,” said founding board member Viv Snead.
“It is beyond my ability to comprehend what has happened.”
Toronto City staff said they’ll be requesting proposals for a new Scarborough youth shelter within the next month.
Seto said that all they would need to do is just reopen Second Base, adding that the shelter gave her a voice, the confidence to speak out and now she’s returning the favour.
“I came out and became a better person because of the shelter,” she said.
“To see that service lost, it’s not okay, I won’t stand for it, I’ll do anything I can to fight for it to stay open.”