A new City of Toronto program will help newcomers experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. The program, operated on behalf of the city by the community agency, WoodGreen Community Services, is providing 70 vacant units in Regent Park as temporary housing for refugees and asylum seekers.
Move-ins will take place on a phased in-basis starting from mid-July at four Toronto Community Housing buildings that can accommodate up to 160 people. The site will operate temporarily until clients find permanent housing—or by December 15, 2020—in alignment with the Regent Park revitalization schedule.
Good job. We need to get people off the streets. We need to get them help.
— JJ (@JJ36472410) July 15, 2020
Housewares will be provided by Bed, Bath and Beyond, and DelSuites provided furniture for eight units. Each unit also comes with high-speed internet access. All clients will also be able to receive additional support, including re-settlement services, referrals to other community supports, and assistance developing a permanent housing plan.
The new program will essentially support the city’s efforts to provide increased physical distancing in the shelter system.
“This is a win-win in many ways. We get to help individual and families who are newcomers and refugees secure temporary accommodation in our community through use of these vacant units before the Regent Park buildings are redeveloped, and at the same time work with a partner agency on more permanent housing options,” Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said of the program.
As of October 2019, approximately 36 per cent of all shelter users in Toronto’s permanent shelter system were refugee/asylum claimants, with an average of 15 to 20 new refugee/asylum claimants entering the shelter system each day.
Since mid-March of this year, the city’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) division has moved more than 3,200 people to achieve physical distancing in the shelter system, including providing interim housing for at least 150 people and permanent housing for more than 1,300 people.
Toronto Mayor John Tory touched on the importance of finding innovative solutions to homelessness during this pandemic.
“By partnering with TCHC and a community partner agency, we are able to temporarily accommodate up to 160 of our most vulnerable residents through the end of 2020 while we actively work to secure permanent housing for newcomer families in need of our help,” Tory said.
Click here for more information on the program.