Excellent view of the Runnymede Shelter by  Rockcliff-Smythe resident


screenshot-www.google.ca 2016-06-07 16-16-59


Comment by blog reader Deane June 6th 2016

There are actually some big issues that need to be examined here. First and foremost, this shelter is in Rockcliff-Smythe, and although we are very close neighborhoods we have huge socio-economic difference. I.e., the Junction is a thriving neighborhood, while Rockcliff- Smyth is a Priority neighborhood, meaning that the Junctions Neighborhood Equity/Health scores are almost double that of Rockcliff-Smythe. 

 What does that look like on the ground – Rockcliff –Smythe residents are more likely to be on social assistance, we have a huge amount of young people dropping out of high school, a low number of youth going to post-secondary, teen pregnancy rates are high, and we have a higher crime rate. 

 This neighborhood also has so few services (we have 1 community organization working in the neighborhood, and a sexual health clinic). There is actually a ‘Strong Neighborhood Strategy 2020,” put out to address some of the injustices and inequalities in priority neighborhood and residents in RS are really questioning how a shelter fits into that plan and whether or not this vulnerable community can support the people coming in with complex needs and if this is the best fit based on all of our other challenges. I think people had hopes that we would get better school programs, employment workshops, something to help reduce neighborhood crime.

I am a social worker, I work with people staying in shelters who often experience homelessness, I also work part time at a shelter. I did a survey of the resources in the neighborhood, imagining what it might be like to provide supports to the clients I serve – I was trying to find harm reduction supplies (clean needles and crack pipes), ID services, a clothing bank, and a drop in. I found none of these things so when I looked up the closest available resources –the harm-reduction supplies were 2 buses and a 10 minute walk away and the ID services were a 50 minute transit ride away. Our neighborhoods community centre is for seniors and there were no drop-in services anywhere.

Community Services are very important for people living in shelters. Gordon Tanner (who is a projects director for the City of Toronto with Shelter, Support, and Housing Administration) did let us know at our community information session that the shelter would have a drop in – but that needs to be renamed a ‘stay-in’. People don’t get well and thrive in shelters, those things happen in the community and unfortunately my neighborhood does not have a strong enough support system to encourage that.

 My main concern lies with the high needs and low infrastructure in Rockcliffe-Smythe to support a huge influx of people with really complex lives. It just seems irresponsible to bring 100 vulnerable people into an already vulnerable community. Community activist, including psychiatrist have been requesting the city complete neighborhood surveys since before the general public even realized Seaton House was being closed. Here is an example of a deputation, I encourage you to read as one means of information, there are several others.

 (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/cc/comm/communicationfile-56915.pdf). These city decisions have big implications for shelter users and the vulnerable neighborhoods they seem to be targeting.

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