‘We’re at capacity every single night’: Toronto shelters feeling the brunt of inflation

Click to play video: 'Unhoused individuals feeling brunt of inflation'
Unhoused individuals feeling brunt of inflation
WATCH: Unhoused individuals feeling brunt of inflation – Dec 25, 2022

The current economic climate is exacerbating the challenges of shelters, drop-in centres and transitional housing facilities, which are struggling to help those without a permanent home.

With less donations this year, shelters like Eva’s Initiatives in Toronto are feeling the pinch. The facility supports 181 at-risk and homeless individuals between the ages of 16 and 24, providing transitional housing and wrap-around services.

“Rent is going up. Accessing housing is going up,” says executive director Louise Smith.

“Even just the daily needs of food and transportation and things like that. And so that makes it harder for young people to leave the transitional space and achieve full independence.”

Smith says the city’s shelter referral centre is turning away nearly 200 unhoused people every night.

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“That means at Eva’s, we are at capacity every single night.”

The toll on unhoused individuals has also been seen at daytime drop-in centre All Saints Toronto, which provides 800 meals per week and wrap-around services to the homeless. The organization is not city-funded.

“What we’re able to do with the level of resources that we actually have is very significant, but to be honest it’s becoming harder and harder to be able to do that,” says Diana Chan McNally who is the drop-in’s harm reduction case manager.

Click to play video: 'Shelters, warming centres in Toronto at capacity after holiday storm'
Shelters, warming centres in Toronto at capacity after holiday storm

“We’re very reliant on Daily Bread and Second Harvest to get recovered food to make our meals. While people are seeing high prices at grocery stores, we’re seeing less food on the trucks.”

Not only has it been grappling with inflation, it was recently hit with a devastating fire that left one person dead. The aftermath of the fire has left the facility’s kitchen and storage room for donations and clothing with significant water damage.

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“It’s going to be hard to bring those spaces back into a decent condition to be able to store clothing and food,” Chan McNally told Global News.

Both All Saints Toronto and Eva’s Initiatives know families are especially strapped for cash this year, but ask that people donate what they can.

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