Toronto LGBT youth homeless shelter 1st to get federal security funding

Toronto's east end will be home to Canada's first federally funded emergency and transitional housing facility to protect homeless LGBT youth from hate-motivated crimes.

Egale Centre slated to open in 2019 will receive $47K to install security cameras, secure entrance

On Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Egale Canada executive director Helen Kennedy announced $47,000 in federal security funding for Toronto's new LGBT youth homeless shelter slated to open in January 2019. (Ralph Goodale/Twitter)

Toronto's east end will be home to Canada's first federally funded emergency and transitional housing facility to protect homeless LGBT youth from hate-motivated crimes. 

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Friday to mark World AIDS Day at the site where the Egale Centre will operate. It's slated to open in January 2019.  

The shelter, which will be located at Dundas Street East and Sherbourne Street, will receive more than $47,000. The grant will cover the cost of installing security cameras and a secure entrance area.

"Hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are the most violent of any hate crime and we know that these are youth-based crimes," Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, told reporters.

"These are really big issues for us so security and cameras may seem like a small thing, but when you're a queer-identified person, you want to make sure the place where you're sleeping and you're trying to get your life on solid footing is safe and secure."

The initiative taps into the federal government's Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program, which is directed at enhancing security in communities with a demonstrated history of being victimized by hate-motivated crime.

"The enhanced security measures will mean greater peace of mind and a safer, more secure facility for the benefit of the residents, staff and volunteers, and indeed the whole community," said Goodale. 

This is the first time the grant has been awarded to an LGBT organization. 

"We have made progress as a country toward equality and inclusion, but it is equally clear that we still have a lot of work left to do," said Goodale. 

"LGBTQ2S Canadians still face significant discrimination, violence and aggression."

Egale Centre will cost $11M

Kennedy said this move marks a new chapter for LGBT Canadians following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's historic apology earlier this week. Trudeau apologized to those whose careers in the military and other federal agencies were sidelined or ended from 1950 to 1992, due to "state-sponsored, systemic oppression and rejection."

Trudeau expressed shame, sorrow and deep regret to thousands of civil servants, military members and criminalized Canadians who endured discrimination and injustice based on their sexual orientation in the Cold War era.

Hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are the most violent.- Helen Kennedy

​Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, a national LGBT advocacy group, will run the homeless shelter. The centre is slated to house up to 31 people under the age of 29.

Kennedy estimates the total cost of the facility will be $11 million. 

"Each youth will have their own apartment-like room with showers, some cooking capacity with a communal kitchen," she said, adding what makes the centre unique is that Egale Canada will also provide on-site counselling to get youths off the street and help them seek employment. 

She explained that LGBT youth can stay up to one year, during which all their needs will be met. 

"We know that 23 per cent of the young people who are homeless in the city of Toronto identify as members of the LGBTQ community, simply because of their communities, they have nowhere to sleep, they have nowhere to live and many of them have lost hope," Kennedy said.