It’s a short, three-block walk from the downtown Toronto studios of CBC Radio to the St. Patrick subway station (at King and University). After being a guest on CBC’s Metro Morning early on Friday, I made the stroll and counted six homeless people on grates and benches.
Even after three decades as a housing and homelessness advocate, it’s still profoundly disturbing to see people on the streets in this, the richest city in one of the richest countries in the world.
Yesterday, the Wellesley Institute launched our Blueprint to End Homelessness in Toronto – and it’s easy to be pessimistic. What practical value will this, the latest in a long series of documents, have for the women, men, children and families who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness in Toronto?
Perhaps we should just ship a few cartons of the reports down to King and Simcoe, dump out the documents, then offer the empty boxes to provide some meagre relief from the cold and wet.
No report is going to change the structural conditions – a shrinking supply of affordable housing, rising housing costs, deepening poverty, social exclusion – that have generated record levels of homelessness and housing distress.
The Wellesley report goes beyond merely reprinting the facts.
We add up the costs of “doing nothing”: The high rate of illness and premature death, disruptions to neighbourhoods and to our local economy and the heavy financial cost of shelters, jails and hospitals.
We have set out practical solutions that will meet the real needs for new homes, upgardes to existing rundown housing, rent supplements to help low-income people pay their housing costs, emergency relief and eviction prevention.
Most importantly, the Wellesley Institute is working with partners in Toronto, in communities across the country, with business organizations and with government officials at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. Rather than simply be another “one-day wonder”, the Wellesley Blueprint has been released as part of a long-term initiative to set in place effective solutions to the devastating reality of the affordable housing crisis.
Check out the Wellesley Blueprint, see lots of background material, and action tips and download plenty of information.
And check out our on-line partner, Spacing.ca, for lots more information.
– Michael Shapcott