We all know that rents in Toronto have soared.The average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $2,000. This is hard for middle class employed people. However for very poor people, particularly people with disabilities who cannot work, the situation is misery and despair.
As a result the shelters are totally full. Seaton house has put in cots. TCHC has a 14 year wait list. Because no one on ODSP (Provincial disability benefit program) can rent anything in Toronto people who are in shelters cannot move anywhere. This has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people sleeping rough.
Among my clients who are warehoused in the shelters or sleeping outside hopelessness has become a way of live. Part of this life is that their drug and alcohol use increases dramatically. It becomes part until distruction.
There are legal spill overs.
1) Pretrial detention increases because with no beds there are no addresses. Without an address there is no bail. Sending people to central intake on Peter street is a fiction.
While sleeping on the streets, many with increased drug and alcohol, they are more visible to police and they get into more fights. Than they are rearrested and back in jail. It also increases the likelihood of overdoses.
2) Camh is not releasing people unless there is housing because without housing people stop taking medication and their behaviour deteriorates. Then the are picked up by the police and brought back to the hospitals. This was confirmed by doctors at Camh.
3) In addition even detox centres have waitlists.
The answer in not "build more affordable housing". The answer is increase the rent money, and specifically the "shelter allowance" from ODSP. ODSP is made up of two payments on is for shelter the other , the "basis" is for food etc. When Harris enacted ODSP the shelter allowance was $450 but a basement apartment was $500. Today the shelter allowance is $489 but the median basement apartment is $1000 +.It is not possible to rent a room in shared accomodation for $489. Thus people use food money for rent and are on crisis from eviction.
The only practical policy option is raise the shelter allowance.