FOOD & HOUSING INSECURITY IN TORONTO
5,253- As of the most recent estimated number of homeless people sleeping outdoors and in emergency shelters, Violence Against Women shelters, and in health and correctional facilities in Toronto on the night of April 17, 2013
7- Percentage of homeless people reporting experience in the Canadian military
33- Percentage of outdoor homeless who self-identify as Aboriginal. One per cent of the general population in Toronto identifies as Aboriginal
21- Percentage of those staying in youth shelters identifying as part of the LGBTQ community
29- Percentage of the homeless population aged 51 or older. Share of seniors has more than doubled in four years
consider these factors
THE "AVERAGE" STREET EXISTENCE
(THERE'S NO SUCH THING)
At the very least, we would like to take away people's perception that they can just say, "Go get a job." Most people are pretty ignorant to what that actually entails from someone who doesn't have shelter, food security, access to hygiene products, identification, clothing for an interview or even a resume drop-off, a place of residence for applications, or even money for a P.O box.
There's a reason why Maslow's Hierarchy is a well respected chart. It visualizes for us how impossible it is to achieve "fulfillment" when our basic needs aren't being met.
Psychology aside, have you ever tried to pull yourself out of a funk when you're not feeling well or upset? Try exponentiating that by waking up on the street and not knowing what you're even going to eat that day. Try just "cheering up" or working on your self-esteem when you have to ask strangers for money and 90% of them look at you like you're garbage. Try being a teenager, try being mentally ill and having no access to mental health care. Did you know that the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto is barely accessible to "average" working people with an income and housing? Every day people suffering from mental illness are turned away at the doors, and it's not even their fault
People in Ontario are diagnosed with mental health related illnesses at a rate of 1.5x that of cancer and 7 times that of infectious diseases. However, Ontario invested about $500 million over a 10-year period for mental health compared to $16 billion in other areas of health care. What this means is that wait times are catastrophic and people are in our streets suffering and unfortunately adding to the stigma and stereotypes- which further leads this community into a deeper marginalized state.
If it wasn't mental health, it would be housing. Despite the 2016 Ontario Federal Budget looking like:
- Funding for the construction and renovation of affordable housing for seniors ($67.2 million over two years);
- Funding for the renovation and retrofit of social housing ($209.3 million in 2016/17); and
- Funding for the construction and renovation of shelters and transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence ($27.9 million over two years)
Toronto still has over 5,500 people spending their nights rejected from shelters, freezing, starving, being judged and ignored, sleeping on benches, boxes, mattresses.
You know that feeling when you run from your front door to your car in the winter and you have that overwhelming dread of cleaning the snow off your car, heating it up, freezing your hands on the steering wheel and struggling with foggy windows? Imagine going out of your front door and instead just sitting on your front porch for 12 hours.
Please, please, please. Just open your eyes and your heart and if at the very least you never want to spend a cent, please just have compassion. People are fighting day after day to survive. People are being murdered on the street, forgotten. People have families out there who care about them, and even if they don't- they are human.
We are all human.
Buy a shirt and help us give back.
Or don't and donate a smaller amount to a local Toronto shelter.
Or don't and just smile at anyone you see on the street if that's all you can give.
Love is free, inclusion is free, acceptance is free.