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First shelter dedicated to 2SLGBTQ+ adults set to open in Toronto

Pride flag in Toronto's Church - Wellesley Village. File / Global News

Toronto’s first transitional shelter dedicated to 2SLGBTQ+ adults is set to open in the city.

The City of Toronto, The 519 and Homes First Society announced the opening of the transitional shelter on Wednesday.

“Located in the city’s west end, the shelter will open this week and provide beds for up to 20 people and will prioritize and provide temporary housing to LGBTQ+ refugees with a focus on trans women,” a news release read.

The shelter is funded by the city, supported by The 519 and operated by Homes First Society.

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“Homes First Society is a provider of affordable, stable housing and support services while the 519 is Canada’s most prominent 2SLGBTQ+ multi service agency,” the release read.

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“The City provided $30,000 to The 519 to help support the development of a comprehensive program model to best support the clients on site along with a one-time start-up amount of nearly $121,000 to support initial site renovations.”

The city said it will also be providing an annual operating budget.

According to the city, the new shelter “addresses community concerns identified including a lack of dedicated shelter supports for 2SLGBTQ+ adults; violence and discrimination experienced by trans people, particularly women, in the shelter system; and the stigma and barriers faced by refugees when they come to Canada.”

A recent assessment conducted by the city found approximately 12 per cent of people experiencing homelessness in Toronto identify as 2SLGBTQ+, around three per cent identify as trans, non-binary and/or Two-Spirit.

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The city added, though, that these numbers are likely an under-representation.

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The city said the new shelter is an “integral step to ensuring queer strength and resiliency and a response to systemic barriers.”

“The needs of LGBTQ+ newcomers are also unique as they often have limited resources to begin anew in Canada and may not able to rely on local cultural communities for support due to their sexual and/or gender identities,” the release said.

The city said the shelter space will provide LGBTQ+ newcomers with “critical supports,” and will also be a “welcoming first home” in Canada.

According to the city, the shelter will incorporate an “innovative model” which will be focused on “building inclusive shelter standards that centre the safety, wellbeing and affirmation of 2SLGBTQ+ community members.”

The city said The 519 will be the “primary referral source” for the new program, and will provide individual support as well as group programming.

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