Reliable housing makes safe communities

The Around the House team believes safe communities protect everyone. That's why we were concerned about how much money shelter services would get in Toronto's municipal budget. A high-ranking senior ATH executive who has lived in the north end of the city for about 35 years, walking and using transit extensively through the neighbourhood, made the following deputation to the City's Budget Chief. 

“Our experience over the last decade is seeing increasing numbers of people in great need of support, including the most fundamental – food, warm clothes. Medical support. Mental health diagnosis, counselling, and treatment. A place to wash clothes, and themselves. Shelter.

When Councillor Cheng pointed out the danger of the structural deficit at an earlier budget town hall, senior ATH reporters latched on to that phrase, surely the perfect way to describe a deficit built into a budget, defying accounting logic.

Turns out a structural deficit doesn’t mean that. But we’re sticking with that definition because a perfect example of it could make its way into the budget. On page 5 of the Budget for the Shelter and Support Services, “even with the proposed increase, the number of people who are not able to access the shelter services is expected to grow.” That would be upward from October of 2023, when the number almost hit 300 people each night.  

Who stays safe in our communities?

The effect of this structural deficit is told in the stories of people our team talks to everyday – the one who could not get help from the local Councillor for registering online for RGI housing, and has been outside ever since, at extreme risk to their personal safety. It’s the person who comes into the Cummer Avenue Drop Inn, soaked after being outside for three days of rain. It’s the person who gets a disability payment that’s not enough for shelter and food.

From our experience of transit enforcement patrols at Finch Station, which the local Councillor describes herself  as simply ‘scattering” people for a few hours, we don’t need more police.   

ATH’s editorial stance is that we’d be better off spending money for a nurse to tend to the scrapes, wounds, infections, and sore feet unhoused people typically experience. And a hub that supplies clean, dry clothing, tents, sleeping bags, hand warmers, hats, snacks, gift cards for coffee shops, We need a plan for permanent warming centres. These things will keep people alive.”

How safe is this community now?

If I had my way, every one of us would get a house like this

City Council voted to give the police the full budget request of $20 million to their $1.2 billion spending plan. Shelter got some money, but we are still leaving a few hundred people outside at night. Every night.

Right now, the view from the corner office of Around the House includes the watery effects three recent days of cold, relentless rain in which we left people out in, and images of police brutality; specifically police kicking a mentally unstable person on the TTC, and separate incidents of disproportionate force, and racial profiling, used at a pro Palestinian march last weekend.

Not vibing with the values here. You?

Vicky Sanderson

A self-confessed Opinion-ista, Vicky Sanderson has been writing and talking about décor, design and lifestyle issues for almost two decades, and has tested just about every home product known to humankind.

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