We follow homelessness in Toronto and throughout Canada. The challenges facing cities around the country are similar. As are the challenges facing people who are homeless.
The homeless in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are exposed and vulnerable. Food insecurity is an issue. New socks are a much needed item. Extreme heat kills.
By monitoring the issues and approaches elsewhere, we learn from each other.
The same can be said of cities in other countries. The west coast of the States. Major centres in the UK. And the down and out down under.
It was recently reported that many of Melbourne, Australia's homeless people view signing a waitlist for housing as “pointless”. The reasons resonate half a world away.
Of those surveyed, an astonishing 58 percent of the homeless in Melbourne were not attempting to access housing support and other crucial services.
Mark Feenane, executive officer at the Victorian Public Tenants Association, said there were a few reasons behind that. “Because rough sleepers do not have a fixed address, many struggle to keep up with the paperwork needed to stay on the waiting list."
Feenane adds, "Others may not be engaged with support services, do not want to deal with the bureaucracy, or feel there is little point because waiting times are so long.”
Different city. Same problems.
In Toronto, the waitlist for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing is, on average, 8.4 years. Some Torontonians have waited 12 years for a bachelor or one bedroom unit.
In 2013, there were almost 200,000 people waiting for RGI units, seniors making up 34 percent of the list. The numbers, from a 2015 report, are expected to be updated later this Fall.
Similarly, in Canada, seniors miss out on $250 million annually in funds for living that are available to them through Federal programs. Many seniors are either not aware of the programs or have difficulty navigating the system.
That's where we come in.
Haven Toronto's Wayne Bright, Counsellor, and Iris Castillo, Community Worker, are part of a team that helps clients understand the programs and services available and guides clients through system navigation.
Thousands of times in 2017, Haven Toronto staff provided clients with dedicated, one-on-one support, including with issues related to housing and the prevention of homelessness, skills and employment, addiction and mental health.
Donations help to ensure the level of support continues to meet the growing demand.
Haven Toronto serves thousands of elder men who are homeless and sees, on average, 400 clients a day.