Due to overwhelming demand, Toronto’s respite services and three Out of the Cold sites will not be closing on their scheduled dates.
Respite services were scheduled to close on April 15 but, according to City of Toronto officials, will be continuing on.
As well, three Out of the Cold sites will extend their programs by one month — until April 30.
Officials say this is a response to the “unprecedented cold winter season and increased demand for emergency shelter services.”
The bitter cold snap this winter left the shelter system in crisis, which left some of the city’s most vulnerable people falling through the cracks.
Shelters were consistently at over capacity and people were even being turned away from the winter respite centres.
Some of the city’s homeless told CityNews at the time that conditions inside the respite shelters were substandard and would lead to people getting sick.
This comes one day after Toronto’s ombudsman says the city gave the homeless and the public outdated, inaccurate and inconsistent information last winter about critically important services.
Susan Opler concluded staff gave two people incorrect information about capacity and turned them away from the respite centres, and that it likely happened more.
She also found unacceptable disparity in the services at the respite centres and at one location it was only 11 C to 14 C. Some locations had no showers and most were not accessible.
Respite centres were supposed to be a Band-Aid for the city’s shelter system but have become a permanent part of the system.
Opler made nine recommendations which included developing a new system to track the occupancy inside winter respites and called on the city to consult with those using the respites to see how they can be improved.
For more information on the city’s homeless services, click here.
With files from Cynthia Mulligan