April 24, 2017
The Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness (TAEH) and the City of Toronto launched a public awareness campaign this morning to encourage Torontonians to challenge their perceptions of those who are currently experiencing homelessness.
"Homelessness is not just a downtown issue," said Mayor John Tory. "We will be asking communities to work with us to deliver on our housing charter which states that all residents have the right to equal treatment in housing without discrimination."
The City's emergency shelter system will be expanding. Up to four new shelters are in the planning stages for 2017 in preparation for the eventual demolition of Seaton House, a large men's shelter in downtown Toronto.
In advance of those shelters opening, the City is proposing some important changes to how communities are engaged around potential new shelter services and the model of service used in these new programs.
The proposed new engagement process includes public open houses rather than large town hall meetings, facilitation by third parties and conducting a detailed needs and opportunity assessment of each proposed neighbourhood.
"Toronto's motto is Diversity Our Strength. Our city and our communities must be inclusive of all individuals," said Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 York Centre), Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee. "Through this campaign and our new ways of engaging with communities and delivering services, we are trying to debunk the myths about homelessness and people experiencing it."
"We are being challenged to ask ourselves if our actions match our thoughts when it comes to supporting and including people experiencing homelessness in Toronto,” said Kira Heineck, Executive Director, TAEH. "If there is friction between the outwardly expressed statement 'of course we need shelters for homeless men' and an inwardly held belief, 'just not anywhere near my house,' then we need to challenge ourselves – or find the tools we need to challenge others."
The campaign was created by the social impact agency PUBLIC Inc. and uses transit ads, online ads and social media to demonstrate the disconnect between what people might say about the prospect of a shelter program coming to their community and what they really believe.
The campaign website http://www.torontoforall.ca/ provides information and resources to encourage further dialogue and encourage residents to challenge their prejudices against people experiencing homelessness.
This is the third phase of the City's Toronto for All campaign which has an overall goal of creating a Toronto that says "no" to all forms of discrimination and racism. Phase 1 ran in the summer of 2016 and focused on Islamophobia. Phase 2 was launched in the fall of 2016 and addressed anti-Black racism. Both campaigns successfully encouraged conversations among Toronto residents and media regarding the relevant issues.
This news release is also available on the City's website:
Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. In 2017, Toronto will honour Canada's 150th birthday with "TO Canada with Love," a year-long program of celebrations, commemorations and exhibitions. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TorontoComms and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto.
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