[Hpn] In the Market for a home
Tue, 16 May 2000 12:29:03 -0400
May 17, 2000
In the Market for a home
Anonymous donation starts St. Stephen's homeless project
By Jim Wilkes
Toronto Star Staff Reporter
For years folks around Kensington Market knew it as the A Tasca restaurant.
In a few months, some down-and-outers will be calling it home.
A $150,000 gift from an anonymous donor helped kick-start the $2.6 million
project, which will see 13 homeless people move into the building on
Augusta Ave. just south of College St., in early October.
It will be run by St. Stephen's Community House, which already operates a
drop-in centre and other services for area youth, the homeless and
newcomers to Canada. The group will consolidate many programs from its 10
locations in the new location.
The same donor gave the same amount to Dixon Hall to begin a townhouse
project for the homeless in south Riverdale, which opened earlier this year.
Both organizations are United Way agencies.
``The biggest thing we're short of is housing,'' said United Way president
More than 300 people are expected to use the daytime drop-in centre which
will be created on the main floor of the old restaurant. Apartments will be
The building will also be made available for community meetings and events
in the evening, said Liane Regendanz, St. Stephen's executive director.
She said organizers are trying to allay fears of merchants and residents
worried about homeless people moving into their neighbourhood.
``It's a challenge for sure,'' Regendanz said. ``But we've been providing
essentially the same services in several other locations in this community.
``We've listened very carefully to the concerns that have been raised by
merchants and residents - who have legitimate fears - but the homeless are
``We're not encouraging homelessness, we're trying to reduce it. That's the
whole point of what we do.''
Councillor Olivia Chow (Downtown), who lives just a few blocks away, agreed.
``These people are on our streets anyway,'' she said. ``But if there is a
home for them, they won't be on the street any more.
``That's what's exciting about this project. This isn't a shelter.
``It's actually a permanent home for these people.''
The province is contributing cash to the project, but the group also
launched a fundraising campaign yesterday to get the $500,000 needed to
complete the building.