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Toronto's New Homelessness Strategy
27/01/2005

In Toronto, Mayor David Miller is bringing a homelessness strategy to council next month. Meanwhile, New York City's housing commissioner was in town yesterday to talk about what they have been acheiving.

I find it interesting to note how differently this was covered by local newspapers...

The Globe and Mail's John Barber:

Although New York's goal of reducing shelter use by two-thirds is far more ambitious than anything being contemplated locally -- and probably unobtainable, if [New York City housing commissioner Linda] Gibbs' sobering analysis of shelter recidivism is any guide -- the Bloomberg plan is similar to the plan currently being developed in Toronto in that both aim to reduce shelter use in favour of supportive housing. The big difference is that in New York, there is enough government money to finance such groups as Common Ground. By contrast, the Ontario government is continuing to refuse to honour even its existing commitments to spending on the homeless.

The Toronto Star:

Toronto, which operates almost 4,600 emergency hostel beds and has an annual shelter budget of about $114 million, can't set targets like New York because there's not enough funding from Ottawa and Queen's Park, Miller's housing adviser, Sean Goetz-Gadon, said in an interview.

However, Miller's $18.4 million homelessness strategy, which goes to city council next month, is a first step, he said. The strategy includes hiring six new outreach workers to provide one-on-one service to people on the street and encourage them to move from public space into emergency shelters; building 1,000 new affordable housing units every year; and lobbying senior governments to build more supportive housing, issue more rent supplements, and increase the number of mental health and addiction-treatment beds for homeless people.

The Sun's Sue-Ann Levy:

However, [Gibbs] said NYC officials try to strike a balance between ensuring public spaces are "not overtaken" by the homeless and recognizing they'll have better success if they "engage" them -- that is, getting them to accept medication or helping them work out a plan for a more stable life. ... As for street outreach, she warns: "By leaving people on the street, maybe you've protected their right to stay there -- but you could be just as easily consigning them to a slow death."

Mayor David Miller and council's socialist trained seals, take note, especially when the handwringers try to turn your spines to jelly at council next week.

Two of the three newspapers leave me thinking that the new plan for Toronto has been modeled closely on a successful New York approach. Then there is the Toronto Sun, which suggests the exact opposite... namely that "our suave socialist mayor" David Miller and his "socialist trained seals" want nothing at all to do with the wisdom of our guests from NYC.

Well, I suppose time will tell whether Sue-Ann Levy has a special view on a the truth, or something else.


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