[Hpn] Any Way You Add Things Up Homelessness Is A Problem

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 5 Feb 2005 04:33:54 -0500


Sat. Feb. 5, 2005

Any way you add things up, homelessness is a problem


City councillors don't know exactly how many homeless people are on the
streets, seeing that they haven't counted them.

There is dispute over how much Toronto spends finding homes for people. Is
it $150 million? $190 million? $215 million?

And we are not quite sure if those who sleep at Nathan Phillips Square and
other public squares can be, or will be forced to move, if they refuse the
offer of a home that Mayor David Miller promises.

But city council this week voted for another $18.4 million to implement a
new plan and protocol and initiative and effort to solve the homeless crisis
that has bedevilled and embarrassed the city for almost a decade.

There are scores of ways to look at the homelessness issue. Here are some,
viewed by the numbers.

200 to 2,000: Estimate of the number of people sleeping on the streets.

500: City commissioner Eric Gam's own estimate.

37,000: Homeless in New York City.

2,694: Homeless people sleeping on streets in Brooklyn, Staten Island and
Manhattan (Bronx and Queens numbers not yet counted).

108,000: Social housing units built in Toronto over the past 50 years.

95,000: Units the city administers, essentially as landlord.

65,000: Torontonians on the social housing waiting list.

4,000: Residents who moved off the list in 2003.

$300,000,000: Amount of federal funds designated for affordable housing in
Ontario, but yet to be spent.

2,000: Affordable housing units Anne Golden report recommended in 1999 that
Toronto should build each year to alleviate homelessness.

3,000: Units the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee says city should be

418: Total units the city built between 1999 and last August.

1,000: Annual units Mayor David Miller says he'll build, starting this year.

500: Units earmarked by Miller for low-income people, using rents geared to

$11,200,000: Annual cost to build these units.

$900,000: Cost to "expedite pre-development work" on affordable housing

$3,000,000: Cost to develop "transitional" housing as part of mayor's plan.

4,500: Shelter beds in Toronto.

66: Shelters in Toronto.

13: Youth shelters.

579: Shelter beds for youths.

3: Kingston Rd. motels still housing homeless families.

85-95: Nightly shelter occupancy rate (per cent).

900: Beds added to the shelter system in last five years, a 25 per cent

230: Different "clients" to pass through the latest shelter, set up on
Edward St., near city hall, to attract those who sleep at Nathan Phillips

80: Beds at the Edward St. shelter.

$85: What it costs per day to house someone in a shelter.

5,000: Units in Toronto getting rent supplement subsidy.

3,000: Rent supplement units that are in private buildings.

0.9: Vacancy rate (per cent) in the private rental market, 1999.

4.3: Vacancy rate today.

$1,500,000: Amount city to spend on outreach workers to nudge homeless off
the street.

$1,100,000: Amount set aside for a new emergency shelter, including
assessment and referral services.

$700,000: Amount to fund pilot program that assists homeless people
discharged from hospitals.

60: Days city now stores, before discarding, belongings homeless people
leave behind on sidewalks.

5: Years New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it will take to solve
his city's homeless problem.

90: Per cent of Tent City people Toronto says are still housed in permanent
dwellings after they were rousted from the waterfront site in 2002.

100: Estimated number of people sleeping on Nathan Phillips Square last

14: Number city says still remained in January.

There may be hope, after all.

Royson James usually appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Email: