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Federal government announces $15M for temporary housing, shelters in Toronto

Toronto advocates, councillors call on City to declare homelessness ‘state of emergency’
WATCH ABOVE: Activists are calling on the city to declare homelessness a state of emergency. And as Caryn Lieberman reports, they're releasing video from inside a number of shelters to help make their case. (Jan. 22)

The federal government has announced it’s giving $15 million to the City of Toronto to be used toward temporary housing amid capacity issues at local shelters and respite centres.

“While the provision of affordable temporary housing has been a key challenge in Toronto for some time, the Government of Canada recognizes that there has been a greater demand for shelter space this past year due to the impacts of global migration,” officials said in a statement on Friday.

“It will support the city’s efforts in helping asylum seekers to find temporary housing solutions, as they do for all individuals who use municipal shelters.”

READ MORE: Hidden camera footage reveals conditions inside Toronto’s 24-hour respite centres

According to the City of Toronto’s daily overnight shelter census, 100 per cent of family shelter spaces, 99 per cent of women’s shelter spaces, 98 per cent of men’s shelter spaces and 97 per cent of co-ed shelter spaces were occupied on Thursday.

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Recently housing advocates called on the City of Toronto to declare homelessness a state of emergency.

“In the city of Toronto emergency plan, it says that an emergency is a situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons,” street nurse and homelessness activist Cathy Crowe said on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Ottawa’s plan to help overwhelmed cities deal with asylum seekers still weeks away

“We are seeing serious harm to persons every day. The worst, of course, being deaths. There are at least four deaths that have happened this year. They have all been extremely violent deaths and we are investigating two others at this point.”

The federal government also provided $11 million to the City in June to cover similar expenses. The statement said officials are looking to develop a cost-sharing agreement with the Ontario government to pay for services and housing-related costs as a result of increased asylum claims and irregular border crossing.

Last year, the Ontario government called for millions in compensation from the federal government to address increased costs.

— With files from David Shum