G20 summit prompts push to house homeless
Toronto's housing department says it plans to escalate efforts to find places to live for homeless people displaced from downtown as the G20 summit draw nearer.
Phil Brown, general manager of the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, said that with G20 looming, the city's Streets to Homes program has been focusing on aiding people in the downtown core.
"Since the middle of March, city outreach workers have been working more intensely in the area affected by the G20," said Brown. "That includes homeless people and people who panhandle, in order to ensure they have a home or they have a safe place to stay."
Police have stated that the homeless and people who cannot provide identification will not be allowed within the restricted area in the heart of the city while the leaders of the world's major economic powers meet June 26-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The restrictions will affect everyone near the convention centre, and those who live or work in the area will be directed to pass through designated checkpoints. The Integrated Security Unit in charge of summit security warns that "this engagement with officers may take some time and those seeking access are asked to exercise patience when doing so."
Perimeter fence goes up Monday
Installation of a three-metre-high fence around the area is set to begin Monday.
Brown said his workers would, as of Monday, begin to go out three times a day in search of people in need of homes.
It's not clear how well the offer of housing has been communicated to homeless people in the area.
One homeless man, who gave his name as John, said police told him he couldn't be in the restricted area from June 21 on, and warned that if he were still there on that date he would be arrested.
Another man CBC spoke to, who gave his name as Frank, said no one has given him any indication that he will have to leave the area.
"I've seen two police man go by today and they didn't say nothing," he said. "For the days that they're going to be here they might, I don't know. They haven't bothered me."
Brown said his organization has helped 30 people find places to live, and the outreach program will begin operating 24/7 in the final week before the summit.