Volunteers for Toronto homeless survey April 26

Toronto’s Street Needs Assessment will take place on the evening of April 26 and the City is seeking volunteers to assist.

For the fourth time, hundreds of volunteers, members of community agencies and City staff will take to the streets and shelters to ask people experiencing homelessness about the services they need to get and keep permanent housing. Responses to the survey help the City to shape improvements in current programs and plan for future service delivery.

The Street Needs Assessment (SNA) results are widely used by policy makers, politicians, researchers, journalists and advocates to identify how many people are homeless in Toronto and to describe who they are and how their service needs may be changing. Every SNA has consistently illustrated that people who are homeless want permanent housing and the cost of housing is a significant barrier to ending their homelessness.

“The Street Needs Assessment gives people who are homeless a loud and clear voice in how we can help them end their homelessness,” said Mayor John Tory. “It also gives the City the critical data we need to better understand how and why people are using homelessness services. The City is committed to supporting this initiative because we are all dedicated to fighting homelessness and the roots of homelessness.”

For the first time, the City of Toronto’s SNA is part of the federal and provincial governments’ national coordinated point-in-time counts. Toronto’s results will be included in the 2018 national and provincial snapshots of homelessness which is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

There has been a 30-per-cent increase year over year in the number of people accessing the City’s emergency shelter system. This year there are more than four times the number of winter respite spaces available as compared to last winter and services are well-utilized each night.

In addition to being a needs assessment survey, the SNA is a point-in-time census of those using all shelters in the city (including provincially-administered Violence Against Women shelters), and those with no fixed address in health care and correctional facilities. It also includes an estimate of the number of people sleeping rough using a well-proven methodology as used by jurisdictions across North America.

The success of Toronto’s homeless count and survey depends on citizen volunteers completing the surveys with people who are homeless, both those sleeping outdoors and staying in shelters and overnight drop-ins.

“Opportunity for all is a key value to Torontonians and volunteering on April 26 gives ordinary citizens who care about homelessness in our city something concrete and useful to do. This can make a difference,” said Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 York Centre), Chair of the City’s Community Development and Recreation Committee.

Members of the public wishing to register as volunteers for the 2018 Street Needs Assessment can do so at http://www.toronto.ca/homelesscount.

Backgrounder available at: http://ow.ly/jp9I30iGT7i

— Patricia Anderson