Allan Gardens Encampment February Update

It has been just under a year since I brought together the department heads of various city divisions responsible for managing encampments for the first-ever Allan Gardens Task Force meeting. 

 

 

It has been just under a year since I brought together the department heads of various city divisions responsible for managing encampments for the first-ever Allan Gardens Task Force meeting. 

There have been many ups and downs, but we have made great strides in housing individuals who have been staying in the park. Thanks to the dedicated staff from our Streets to Homes team as well as many other community partners including Dixon Hall, The Salvation Army, The Neighbourhood Group Community Services, Inner City Health Associates, The YMCA, Na-Me-Res, Street Health, Toronto Metropolitan University and St. Luke’s Church, the task force has permanently housed 89 people from the Allan Gardens encampment since January 2023. 

There are now nine people staying in Allan Gardens, with most having plans for housing in the coming weeks. Streets to Homes staff continue to approach the remaining individuals with housing services. It is my hope that they will find and accept indoor space.

The following are some testimonials from former Allan Gardens residents who were able to move into permanent housing. Let’s meet them!

BJ

BJ was living in an encampment in Allan Gardens when he began working with the City’s Street to Homes team. He says, “The City's efforts to rescue me from homelessness were truly life-changing.”

BJ continues, “It was so helpful meeting the Street to Homes workers and getting direction and support. They provided a comprehensive support system that addressed my immediate needs while offering long-term solutions.”

Today, BJ is in his own apartment furnished with items from The Furniture Bank. He says, “I feel safe. I like being here.” Looking ahead, BJ continues to meet with Calvin – one of the Street to Homes workers – to discuss his plans for the future.

“Through affordable housing initiatives, job training programs and access to social services, the City not only provided me with a home but also empowered me to rebuild my life and regain my independence,” says BJ.

 

Ramsey

“It was the first time I'd ever been homeless in my life and my first day camping out in the park.” 

The day Ramsey found himself in an encampment in Allan Gardens, was the day he met the person who would help him turn things around.

It was there in the park that Ramsey met Calvin – a City street outreach counsellor. Ramsey says, “Calvin came by and got my information and, over the course of a number of visits, got me back into housing.”

As part of the City’s Streets to Homes team, frontline workers like Calvin are out there year-round, 24/7. Their focus? To establish supportive connections with people who are sleeping outdoors and help them find and keep housing.

And that’s exactly what Calvin did with Ramsey. Grateful for the support, Ramsey says, “Calvin's a great guy. He helped me out so much without even knowing me. I'm very thankful to him and all the staff that he works alongside for all their help.”

 

For more housing success stories, check out the City of Toronto’s instagram page!

I am proud of the progress in Allan Gardens and I look forward to seeing the rest of the residents in the encampment safely housed. Many resources went into making this a reality including a community safety team, 24/7 security and a trailer for City staff and community partners to work from. These resources came out of the work the Allan Gardens Task Force engaged in and has resulted in permanent housing for so many people. To track what is happening in Allan Gardens and to read previous updates, please visit my encampments website.

 

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