The Rise Of COVID-19 And The Fall Of Our Community
It’s back-to-school time but it is most certainly not back to normal. Normal is long gone. This past Spring and Summer were like nothing we have ever seen before.
The novel coronavirus has exposed the severe vulnerabilities in the community that we serve.
Haven Toronto is open every day, all year, during which we are advocating on behalf of and providing support for thousands of elder men age 50-plus who are impacted by homelessness, isolation and poverty. This includes being open every day of the pandemic with added protocols to further protect clients and staff while delivering vital supports.
In mid-March of this year, as businesses and schools rapidly started closing and more and more people were being laid-off due to COVID-19, we wrote a letter to our supporters sharing with them our understanding if they needed to delay or pause donations to Haven Toronto. We did not want to contribute to the stress created by uncertainty in the economy. Reports suggest that 70% of charities will see a decrease in donations in 2020 due to the pandemic. Of those whom we wrote, 10% of monthly donors stopped or reduced their donation. For an organization that works to reduce poverty, we were happy to give our supporters one less thing to worry about.
In early April, we reviewed our service statistics from the last two weeks in March. In that time – still early in the pandemic – we saw a 104% increase in meals served at breakfast and lunch. Our latest numbers, comparing this past February - pre-pandemic - to August 2020, show a 254% increase in meals served at breakfast alone. In the last twelve months, we have served almost 65,000 meals. We served 50,000 meals in all of 2019.
Our nurse and crisis and housing counsellors continue to be busy. In the first quarter of 2020, our nurse had 26% more visits with clients than the same time in 2019. The number continued to grow even as physical distancing was becoming a greater priority.
What can we expect in the months ahead?
According to Ipsos, “Nearly half (48 percent) of Canadians are less than $200 away from financial insolvency.” Global News reported that the pandemic could end up “swamping” millions of Canadian households. CMHC says 12% of Canadians have entered into mortgage deferrals, a number that could grow to 20% by September. The rent delinquency rate in Ontario has increased 900% compared to one year ago.
On any given night in Toronto, 10,000 people are homeless. Expect to see that number grow and, with it, the need for organizations like Haven Toronto and for supporters like you. We see the impact of, and are grateful for, your help.
Together we have been able to address and solve many challenges facing vulnerable elder homeless men.