On any given night in Canada, there are approximately 30,000 men, women and children who have no place to stay. In Toronto, there are close to 4,000 shelter beds being accessed by people with no homes as well as another 500 or so people who sleep outside on the street.
That is just not right!
The Salvation Army in Toronto operates five shelters for people experiencing homelessness; three shelters for men and two for women. In total we provide over 600 beds per night for men and women who have no home. In the past year, on the premise that we can do more together than we can do apart, we integrated all five of our shelters under one management structure—Housing and Homeless Supports.
Our unified vision for our five shelters is now summed up under the acronym H.O.M.E.
H- Housing. We do all that we can to find appropriate, affordable housing for the people we encounter each day. The biggest issue on this front is that there is simply not enough housing to go round. Waiting lists in Toronto are often 10 years long. This makes our task very difficult. However, we find housing for 400-500 of our shelter residents each year. It’s important to note that ‘housing’ is only a piece of our bigger desire to help people find a “home”.
O- Outcomes. Our two main outcomes are i. getting people housed and ii. Keeping people housed. This involves many levels of needed expertise around addictions, mental health, trauma counselling, spiritual care, etc.
M- Mission. We are prioritizing our need to keep the focus of all that we do on our mission. All staff are formally trained in what our Salvation Army mission and core values are so as to have the DNA of The Salvation Army front and centre in all of our work.
E- Excellence. We want to lead the way in creative, innovative approaches to this immense problem of homelessness in a way that demonstrates our desire to do the work as well as possible.
On this “World Homeless Day” (October 10), it’s important to get educated as to the depth of the problem of homelessness. You could respond by praying for those of us who do this work, donate, or volunteer your time and expertise with people in your community doing this vital work.
By Dion Oxford
The Salvation Army’s Housing and Homelessness Supports in Toronto