Homeless shelter for men could be coming to...
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Jan 08, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Homeless shelter for men could be coming to Leslieville

Building at 29 Leslie St. being considered for Salvation Army’s Hope Shelter

SIDEBAR

Talk of a homeless shelter for men opening up on Leslie Street, between Queen Street East and Eastern Avenue, has created quite a stir on social media.

Late Friday morning, Facebook lit up with posts from area residents about the proposed shelter. Some neighbours welcomed the new facility, while others were more wary of what it will entail and the impact it could have on the community.

Mindful of the emotions setting up such a facility I the community will bring up,  Beaches-East York Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who represents Ward 32 where the new shelter would be located, shared her thoughts in a lengthy Facebook note posted Friday around 2:30 p.m.

McMahon started off by saying that she welcomes the Salvation Army’s new Hope Shelter to her ward, especially with the growing need in Toronto for shelter beds and the recent closure of the shelter’s College Street facility.

“Emergency shelters offer temporary housing and support to Torontonians who have nowhere else to turn. I am committed to making this facility a success for the local neighbourhood and the men it will temporarily house,” she wrote. “Our community has a reputation for being accepting and welcoming to all. The incredible compassion and generosity for Syrian refugees has been inspirational, and I expect that the same spirit will be shown toward this facility.”

McMahon went on to say that she has “full confidence in the Salvation Army as operators of this facility and in the Shelter, Support, and Housing Administration staff from the City of Toronto.”

Further, McMahon urged those with questions, concerns and ideas how to make the project a success to contact Joy Connelly, a long-time east-end resident and housing expert, who has been retained to serve as the community liaison on this project at hopeshelteronleslie@gmail.com or 416-466-2371.

She also invited community members to attend a drop-in open house scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Toronto Fire and EMS Training Centre, 30 Knox Ave.
Beach Mirror

The Salvation Army is exploring the possibility of opening a shelter for homeless men in Leslieville.

The Christian church and international charitable organization has been searching for close to two years for a new location to replace its 124-bed Hope Shelter on College Street at McCaul Street, which it was forced to close last April after the property’s owner sold the building. The Salvation Army was a long-time tenant of that site and the lease ended.

“The Salvation Army has been working with the City of Toronto to find a new location to replace the Hope Shelter that we unfortunately closed in the spring of 2015,” said Andrew Burditt, a Salvation Army spokesperson, early Friday afternoon.

In a letter posted to its website today, the Salvation Army said “after an extensive search” it may have found a new home for the shelter at 29 Leslie St., between Queen Street East and Eastern Avenue.

They’re proposing opening an 80-bed shelter for homeless men aged 18 and older. The intention is to offer most, if not all, of the same services the Salvation Army offered at its College Street location for 40 years including three meals a day, counselling, housing placement and follow-up, and referrals to other services.

“Our staff would be providing services on-site 24/7. Shelter residents do not have to leave the shelter during the daytime or line up to get into the shelter,” said the letter signed by Bradley Harris, executive director of the Salvation Army’s Toronto Housing and Homeless Supports.

Burditt noted the Salvation Army has not bought the Leslie Street property.

In an accompanying memo, Gordon Tanner, director of change management for the city’s Shelter Support and Housing Administration, indicated the building at 29 Leslie is ideal as it’s “a suitable size, is accessible for those who cannot climb stairs, and is close to transit and other services its clients use.”

Further, he said the location is compliant with municipal shelter bylaw requirements that it be on an arterial road and is more than 250 metres from another shelter.

City council must still approve a shelter for this site.

The first step is a city staff report to the Community Development and Recreation Committee scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 27. Anyone wanted to speak at the meeting can email cdrc@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5089.

Council is expected to vote on the shelter location at its Feb. 3 and 4 meeting.

The plan would be to start renovations in April with the goal of opening by the fall.

Community members are invited to learn more about the proposal at a drop-in open house hosted jointly by the Salvation Army and the City of Toronto’s Hostel Services Division on Saturday, Jan. 16.

Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon and her staff, as well as representatives from 55 Division police station, are expected to be in attendance.

The consultation won’t include speeches or lining up at microphones, and will run from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Toronto Fire and EMS Training Centre, 30 Knox Ave., south of Eastern Avenue. Letters were distributed to residents Friday, Jan. 8.

“The purpose of this meeting is for members of the public to have a one-on-one conversation with Salvation Army representatives and city staff,” Burditt said.

“It’s for people to get specific answers to specific questions.”

Harris said the Salvation Army is committed to being a good neighbour.

“We want our shelter to contribute to the wellbeing of both our clients and the neighbourhood,” he wrote in the letter. “To ensure good communication right from the start, we have hired Joy Connelly, an independent facilitator.”

Connelly will be hosting a comment table at the open house to collect the community’s suggestions, which will be forwarded to the city and the Salvation Army.

Anyone seeking more information or those who can’t attend the Jan. 16 open house can join an email list for updates by contacting Connelly at hopeshelteronleslie@gmail.com or 416-466-2371.

Visit www.salvationarmy.ca/ontariocentraleast/2016/01/08/new-hope-in-leslieville for more information.

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