No shelter from the storm for Toronto’s homeless
KJ Mullins-Toronto: When Hurricane Sandy blew in late Monday Toronto’s street people were left to fend for themselves. One activist, Doug Johnson Hatlem was out in the rain until 2:00 a.m. checking on those coping with the storm while living on the street.
Johnson and his three street teams talked with at least 44 people who were without a bed tonight saying that there was no extra shelter spaces opened up by the city during a phone interview. He also said that central intake is referring people to the Peter Street shelter location where beds have been full for hours. Twenty-one of those were inside at Peter Street or an all night Tim Hortons.
“One of our teams was at the shelter on Peter Street at 7:00 p.m. and then again at midnight. They saw the same people there during both times,” Johnson said.
One of the most shocking things that Johnson reported was that there were between two and four men still in orange jumpsuits that had been released from the Don Jail with no where to go Monday night.
Johnson said that many of those he talked to in the Rosedale Valley area didn’t even attempt to go to the shelters as they “know how full it is.”
Johnson said that he was told at 10:00 p.m. by central intake that there were no additional beds for men, women or youths.
As Johnson walked along the streets of Toronto doing outreach he saw downed trees and swaying street lamps. The police he encountered warned that metal debris was flying and to be careful.
As fires blazed on Queen Street West those who live on the street are facing the high winds and rain. Not all of the homeless will seek shelter. Many are plagued by mental health issues that cause them to shy away from crowded situations.
In the richest city of Canada as the winds blew those in the most need were on their own.