February 15, 2016 5:22 pm
Updated: February 16, 2016 12:35 pm

Homeless shelters in Toronto bursting at the seams: report

WATCH ABOVE: Even during this latest cold snap, homeless men and women are being turned away from city-run shelters according to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. As Caryn Lieberman reports, as a result, it's come up with a list of demands for the mayor.


A new report released by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty indicates city-run homeless shelters in Toronto are bursting at the seams as space is becoming increasingly limited with many choosing alternatives or simply staying outdoors.

A report titled, “Out in the Cold: The Crisis in Toronto’s Shelter System,” surveyed 105 people during the week of Jan. 18 who were unable to get a bed at a city-run shelter and found 81 per cent of them were denied a spot because shelters were full.

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Even Out of the Cold programs, which are run by inter-faith groups and offers additional shelters to the homeless, are facing a huge crunch.

Among those surveyed, 55 per cent admit they were also denied overnight access to the programs.

Jessica Hales, a nurse practitioner who works in the Dundas and Sherbourne area, says facilities for the homeless are woefully inadequate.

“The Out of the Cold and warming facilities the city is using as a backup component for the overcrowded shelter system is in itself overcrowded and the conditions in them are very inadequate,” Hales said.

“The best someone can hope for at one of these locations is a mat on the floor and one blanket. And in many circumstances, these facilities are running out of blankets and mats which are causing people to sleep on the bare floor.”

The poverty coalition has scheduled a march to Toronto City Hall on Wednesday morning to sound the alarm on the growing crisis shelters are currently facing.

According to the city’s daily shelter census data, youth, women men and families have access to 4,374 beds in all of Toronto with the occupancy rate at 92 per cent as of Feb. 11.

With a file from Caryn Lieberman

© 2016 Shaw Media

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