Putting a face on voicelessness

It’s the holiday season and the homeless shelter at Yonge and Sheppard is eerily empty. The majority of the women and girls who usually populate the YWCA have left to join their families. Except for Elisheva Passarello. She walks the halls by herself once again; it has been five years since she has seen her son, let alone spent a holiday with him.

“What was hard was homeless people often have someone; I had no one, not even my own son,” Passarello said. “What’s more difficult was that he didn’t have me.”

Ice skaters at Nathan Phillips Square

Here we go again: City of Toronto 2017 budget

Don’t be surprised if you get a sense of déjà vu as the mayor and Toronto city council wrap up the budget for 2017, this week. City council finalized the budget during a meeting scheduled for Feb. 14-15. On the chopping block for budget reductions are popular public services such as library hours, childcare and the potential closing of a men’s shelter in North York for people addressing substance-abuse. They’ve all faced similar threatened cuts in previous years.

Frigid temperatures lead to hike in shelter usage in Toronto

Upward of 5,000 homeless people depend on city-funded shelters to keep warm during bone-chilling winter nights, according to the City of Toronto website. There has been a steady increase, by 1.6 per cent, in the homeless population since 2009. Emergency shelters are experiencing the highest average for nightly occupancy since 2011, accommodating more than 4,000 homeless people every night in all 57 city-operated shelters.