Survey highlights opinions of city’s homeless

Toronto’s homeless and under-housed drop-in users spoke out in a new survey, calling on the City of Toronto to better fund services they need. Top demands are for more supportive housing, affordable transit, improved and expanded shelters, mental health & overdose prevention work, and more detox services. Survey results are being released in a report Jan. 30, 2018. “People are getting increasingly desperate on the streets of Toronto. We must work harder to fund these needed services in the 2018 City budget,” said Bill Sinclair, Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Community House.

Sandi Guignard, a member of the survey group, is committed to hearing from those who are most vulnerable. “We did this survey so we could hear the voices of those who don’t have a voice at City Hall,” said Guignard. “Those of us who have experienced poverty and homelessness first hand know the City must do better.”

The surveys with 74 drop-in users were done by participants from the Member Advocacy Committee, a group of people with lived experience of poverty and homelessness at St. Stephen’s Community House. Members collected data in a one-week period in January at the St. Stephen’s Community House Corner Drop-In, St. Felix Centre, and Sistering. Drop-in centres provide food, warmth and vital support services in a congregate setting to people who are homeless, marginally housed and/or socially isolated.

The group urges all City Council members to vote for full implementation of the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy. They view the 2018 budget as a band aid budget, and call for higher property taxes and new revenue tools to fund vital City services. They want the City to give priority to new supportive housing, more detox programs, overdose services, mental health services, free transit for people on social assistance, and an improved and expanded shelter system.

The report is available on the St. Stephen’s Community House website:

— Helen Armstrong