Address: Willowdale Baptist Church, 15 Olive Ave
Operational during Extreme Cold Weather Alert, until April 15th, 2023
As of March 6, the Willowdale Warming Centre has transitioned from Mitchell Field Community Centre to 15 Olive Avenue for future activations as determined by the City. The Warming Centre will be run by Dixon Hall. On March 13th, my team hosted a town hall during which both Dixon Hall and the Shelter Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) from the City of Toronto were available to answer questions. Here is a summary of the Q&A for those who were not able to join us.
Why was Willowdale selected as the area to set up a warming centre? Warming Centre locations needs to be close to transit ideally, in this case Willowdale was chosen for the proximity to Finch subway station. Decisions about shelter placement do not require council approval, as was decided by the previous council to deal with the COVID emergency.
How are warming centres different from shelters? The warming centre is only activated on an as-needed basis to provide food, a place to sleep and referral services for people experiencing homelessness. Shelters are temporary housing that aren't dictated by weather conditions.
What are some common complaints that residents near other warming centres have stated? We've heard from some residents about finding needles in the parks or community spaces around the location of the warming centres. There have been break-ins into building lobbies where people experiencing homelessness try to seek a space to spend the night. The areas around the warming centres are sometimes too dark to allow residents and clients of the warming centre to navigate. Our team will look at addressing lighting concerns for the long term in this corridor.
What can I do as a resident of the neighbourhood if I am concerned about the safety around the centre? Neighbourhood residents can call Warming Centre staff at 647-468-5406, if there are immediate concerns that arise. If the situation is an emergency please call 911.
What can we as a community do to support the clients?
For volunteering or donating please contact Farshid at 416-333-0563.
To receive related training, please contact Haydar Shouly at Haydar.Shouly@dixonhall.org.
To share your ideas for partnerships or ongoing concerns, please contact Rebecca Berenbaum at 416-888-8451 or Rebecca.Berenbaum@dixonhall.org.
For general questions about City services to support those experiencing homelessness please email email@example.com.
6. Are there resources available to the community to learn how to support or navigate distressed individuals?
For the Community Education Workshops, you can join at this link as well: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/333622904087
There is also de-escalation training available for businesses through Economic Development & Culture: https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/city-of-toronto-economic-development-amp-culture-30949674731
7. Where can we get some in depth information about homelessness in Toronto? The Street Needs Assessment has some great data on where people are experiencing homelessness - in the last assessment from April 2021, it found 13% of all people experiencing homelessness were in North York - read it here. More info about Housing & Homelessness Research & Reports can be found here.
8. What is a sustainable solution to address homelessness in Toronto? The city has to make connections with private organizations, faith communities and local charities to help fund community based organizations to expand capacity and contribute creative ideas towards sustainable solutions.
Homelessness is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach, and as such, we are bringing together community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and government officials to discuss and develop solutions that can help address this problem. Our office will host a Poverty Alleviation Round Table to bring all those who can contribute to this issue to work together. It will focus on identifying the root causes of homelessness, understanding the unique challenges faced by the homeless population, and exploring innovative strategies for providing support and resources. Hopefully this effort will lead to concrete actions that will make a positive impact in the lives of our fellow community members.