City of Toronto secures space in hotels for every person living in 4 'priority' encampment sites

·2 min read
People experiencing homelessness camp in Toronto’s east end on May 7, 2020. The city says it now has enough room to house those living in encampments in the following four sites: Moss Park, Alexandra Park, Trinity Bellwoods and Lamport Stadium. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
People experiencing homelessness camp in Toronto’s east end on May 7, 2020. The city says it now has enough room to house those living in encampments in the following four sites: Moss Park, Alexandra Park, Trinity Bellwoods and Lamport Stadium. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Toronto says it now has enough space to move every person living in four major encampments into emergency shelters set up in hotels across the city — and it's launching a new program that will help them make the transition.

The Pathway Inside program will focus on housing people living in four priority encampment sites: Moss Park, Alexandra Park, Trinity Bellwoods and Lamport stadium.

In February, the city announced it was leasing the downtown Novotel Toronto Centre hotel as a temporary homeless shelter to allow for more physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Pathway Inside program, the city said it hopes to transition everyone living in the encampments to the hotel — located on 45 The Esplanade — or to other hotel programs by April.

Eventually, it hopes to assist residents in moving into permanent housing.

"Living outside has a significant, negative impact on overall health and well-being," the city said in a news release on Tuesday.

"Just as importantly, encampments are not safe and not legal."

Since the start of the pandemic, the city says nearly 1,400 people experiencing homelessness and living outside have accepted referrals to safe, indoor spaces.

The city also says it has opened 40 additional sites across Toronto as part of the COVID-19 response. This is in addition to the 75 base shelter sites that were already running.

"We have taken unprecedented action with the help of the federal government to open up new shelter spaces and get supportive housing units built," Mayor John Tory said in the release.

Joe Cressy, chair of Toronto's Board of Health, agrees.

"Every person deserves a safe and secure home. In fact, housing is their right," he said in the release.

"Housing, permanent and safe housing. That is what we must work tirelessly for. That is what our City of Toronto Pathway Inside program will help achieve."