City of Toronto officials have announced the results of a census that counted 5,052 homeless people living on the streets and in shelters across the city.
Toronto's first census of the homeless was conducted by city volunteers during one night in mid-April.
The count included those living on the street, in shelters and in jail, but did not attempt to count the so-called hidden homeless, who live in temporary accommodation.
|The April 19 survey counted:|
Don Valley East Ward Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said the study allows taxpayers to ask whether they're getting their money's worth.
He noted that the city spends more on homelessness than on parks and recreation, transportation services or public health services.
But other councillors called the study invaluable for providing a clearer picture of the problem in the city.
St. Paul's West Coun. Joe Mihevc said it gives a "benchmark by which to gauge our success in our real goal, the bottom-line reason why we did this in the first place, and that is to end street homelessness."
Similar surveys have been conducted in several Canadian cities, including Calgary and Vancouver, as well as large American cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Each one came under criticism.
In Toronto, the count drew criticism from advocacy groups for the homeless, which argued the numbers would give city council an excuse to cut funding.
Outreach workers also objected to the census on behalf of their clients, saying many of them feared the census would identify their secret dwellings.