Toronto is suffering from a homeless crisis, and it is going to worsen if left unaddressed.
Peggy Byrne, a communications representative at the City of Toronto, said that shelters are struggling to keep up with the amount of people who need them.
“Despite significantly increasing shelter capacity and investments in homeless services, shelter occupancy remains at capacity,” said Byrne. “Demand for services continues to rise, driven by low vacancy rates, increasingly scarce affordable housing, and increasing numbers of refugee claimants.”
Cathy Crowe, a street nurse, called on Toronto Mayor John Tory to declare a state of emergency on homelessness after the recent death of a man in a city parking lot. Crowe said that Tory has not taken significant actions to address homelessness.
The Toronto Homeless Memorial Network said that 17 homeless people have died in Toronto since the beginning of October 2019.
The City of Toronto said that the average occupancy rate in shelters was 95 per cent on Dec. 30.
RBC said that Toronto’s low vacancy rate has caused rents to become unaffordable. Raising the vacancy rate will be arduous because of the large amount of immigrants coming to Toronto and the increasing proportion of renter households.
PadMapper says that Toronto continues to remain one of the most expensive cities to rent in Canada. The average price of a one bedroom rental in Toronto in December 2019 was $2,300 per month, which demonstrates housing is unaffordable for many.
The influx of refugees and asylum seekers coming to Toronto have overwhelmed the shelter system. The City of Toronto said that there were 2,357 refugees or asylum seekers in Toronto shelters in October 2019. There were 6,609 people using shelters in October 2019, which means about 35.7 percent of them were refugees or asylum seekers.
Byrne said that the homelessness crisis shows no signs of stopping soon.
“Homelessness is an extremely complex issue,” said Byrne. “The City of Toronto continues to experience unprecedented demand for emergency shelter.”