• Once Upon A City: Poor house helped Toronto’s destitute

    The House of Industry provided both temporary and permanent accommodations. Residents were often required to do chores in return for help… Abandoned children and orphans were often placed as indentured servants in homes and farms around Toronto, where they were given room and board (and perhaps wages) in return for their work. A farm’s survival relied heavily on the work of children back then… By 1947, the House of Industry’s clients were primarily the elderly poor

  • A perfect storm: homelessness, mental health, criminal law and no shelter beds

    We are told that the cost of rent is a function of the market. There is widespread public support for benefits for people who cannot work because of disabilities. At a minimum this should include enough money to pay rent and buy food. Instead, my clients are being warehoused in jails while their friends sleep and die on Toronto’s streets.

  • Make data on homeless deaths public

    The city should release not just the number of homeless deaths, as it recently did for the first time, but other information it now collects, too, such as on gender, unofficial cause of death, and location of death… we know very little about how these people ended up on the street or how they died. Were these opiate overdoses, suicides, deaths by exposure? And therefore what are the policy responses we should be demanding of governments?

  • Social workers failing Toronto’s homeless

    … caseworkers seem to think their job starts and ends with meeting a client the one time it takes to get them on OW. What about the service plan they’re supposed to develop and regularly update to give clients the training or supports they may need to get back on their feet?“ … The city and the (Ontario) government need to step up” … Ontario Works (people) are not doing their jobs to get us back on our feet.”

  • Homeless battled unsafe shelters during the Great Depression

    Late in 1938… Mayor Day had introduced new requirements for single unemployed men using the hostels… The men were expected to work seven hours in return for a week’s lodging and food at Wellington House and other institutions for the homeless. Thought of paying the out-of-work for their labour on the relief project was judged beyond consideration… some who undertook their seven hours work were actually turned away from city hostels, which were filled to capacity.

  • Caring for vulnerable children starts with caring for parents

    … the government’s flawed information on homeless births is not only a problem of inadequate data collection. It is also a symptom of a greater issue: the stigma attached to homelessness which impedes pregnant, homeless women from disclosing their status and seeking support… To address the root of this issue the province should make access to housing support more readily available to pregnant women and integrate such services within the health care system to encourage women to reach out rather than conceal their challenges.

  • Wynne government should dump cruel panhandling ban

    If the government is concerned about the threat to public safety posed by homelessness and poverty, the Safe Streets Act is precisely the wrong approach. The money wasted enforcing this unfair and ineffective law would be much better spent on, say, affordable housing or mental health services or other chronically underfunded social programs that seek to address the root causes of homelessness.

  • Four Principles that Can End Chronic Homelessness

    … success rested on four critical interventions: permanent supportive housing; rapid rehousing; a Housing First approach; and not criminalizing people experiencing homelessness… 70 communities, including Bergen, invested in a “problem-solving toolkit” designed to offer flexible solutions that respond to evolving challenges… The toolkit offers solutions based on four categories: data analytics; human-centred design; quality improvement; and facilitation.

  • Common misconceptions about homelessness

    First, we should move away from a standard housing policy toward a person-centered approach that responds to individuals’ needs. We should recognize that people who are homeless often have networks; someone may not have a home but may still have a home neighbourhood… Second, we need to integrate harm reduction approaches into housing policies…

  • Tory should commit city money to fixing the social housing problem, then ask the province for help

    “The time for action is now. In fact it was before now, because repairing social housing is a moral, economic and social imperative,” Tory said last week. Really? Why, then, do you not increase the city’s allocation of funds to repair the damaged buildings? Why are you promoting a freeze in property taxes instead of a dedicated 1 or 2 per cent increase to build a fund that stops the closures?