There is an overcrowding problem in Toronto shelters. There has been for years.
According to the Daily Shelter Census on the City of Toronto website, occupancy-rate percentages on Feb. 1 for the sectors co-ed, men, women, youth and family in motels were in the high 90s; family in shelters was at 100 percent.
In the past two years, the average nightly number of people in Toronto’s permanent emergency-shelter system has gone up dramatically, according to the statistics on the City of Toronto website.
In 2015, the number had dropped from the 4100s to 4000s. Throughout 2016 and 2017, however, that number has jumped to the 5000s.
There are simply too many people in the shelters. What can be done to help them?
The city has, with permission from the federal government, opened more armouries as emergency shelters.
Most recently, a temporary homeless shelter has been opened in the Dupont Street and Davenport Road area, but not without some push back.
Some area residents have publicly opposed the shelter, citing the lack of space and existing housing problems as issues. Others are willing to welcome people to the shelters.
Opening this building as a shelter is a step in the right direction. But what else can be done?
Maybe all the city needs to do is make use of what they have.
It could scour all the buildings they own and any private properties that could potentially become temporary shelters.
Recently, there have been reports of schools downtown at risk of shutting down. The website People for Education has a list. If the city looks ahead, they could turn possible soon-to-be empty buildings into shelters, as well.
Until then, the city should continue to work with the federal government to open more armouries for the homeless.