Toronto is currently facing a major homelessness crisis.
The CBC reported that 126 shelter residents died between January and November of 2021, according to city data. As a result, the highest-ever number of names were added to the Toronto Homeless Memorial in December 2021 — a total of 27 names were added to the ever-growing tribute, which currently has the names of 1,200 people who died while homeless in Toronto. The Shelter Housing Justice Network has called these deaths “an unconscionable injustice”.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on all of us, they have been amplified within Toronto’s homeless community. A lack of a safe place to sleep and quarantine has worsened the effects of the virus. According to Global News, Toronto homeless shelters have been recently experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19.
While the Shelter Housing Justice Network has released a list of ways that the City of Toronto could help address the problem, we can all help the problem by donating to the organizations that work so hard to keep the homeless safe, fed, and cared for.
At the Moez and Marissa Kassam Foundation, we have been longstanding supporters of two organizations that make a difference in the lives of homeless people in Toronto: Homes First and Fred Victor.
For 35 years, Homes First has provided supportive housing and shelter to all populations. The organization operates more than 15 shelters that cater to displaced and marginalized communities that do not have a permanent and safe place to stay.
In 2020, Homes First provided:
- 12,621 referrals and connections to community services and programs
- 405 men, women, and children with stable, supportive housing
- 255,700 nights of emergency shelter
- 806,585 meals
“Homes come in many shapes and sizes but each is a safe, stable refuge,” Homes First says in its mission statement. “With a home, people can be part of a community, obtain ID, register for social services, and keep in touch with family and friends. With a home, people gain respect, dignity, and the ability to care for themselves and others. With a home, people can build a future. Everyone needs a home.”
The Moez and Marissa Kassam Foundation also supports the Fred Victor Center in its goal to foster long-lasting and positive change for the homeless and low-income populations living across Ontario. The organization provides various services including Affordable Housing, Transitional Housing, Shelter, Food Access Services, Job Training, and other specialized support programs.
At Fred Victor:
- Over 3,000 people access their programs and services every day
- They have provided over 243,000 meals
- Residents have accessed their employment and training services more than 2,300 times
Let’s make a difference this new year. Support Homes First and Fred Victor for a better Toronto — for all.