Homeless get aid from city for apartments

Community organizations help former 'tent city residents' furnish their new digs

As many as 80 former "tent city residents" have a new place to call home, now that the city has stepped in with a new rent subsidy initiative.

To help them get settled into their new digs, several community organizations joined together to help the formerly homeless furnish their new lodgings.

"How are they expected to flourish when they don’t (even) have a pot to boil water for tea?" John Andras, co-founder of Project: Warmth told the Town Crier.

Several groups, who had been helping the former tent city residents for years with supplies from stoves to clothes, asked for support from the business community. The response was overwhelming. The organizations that came together on this initiative include: Toronto Disaster Relief, Chill Out, the Furniture Bank, the Royal York Hotel, Canadian Tire, Park Hyatt hotel, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Executive Furniture.

"Executive Furniture donated 50 beds and some tables and furnished the entire apartment for (former tent city resident) John Burke, known as "Johnny B," mentioned Andras. The truck full of furniture left Chill Out, at Madison Ave. and Dupont St. on Nov. 26 and headed to Johnny B’s apartment on Jameson.

"Royal York Hotel donated 60 beds," said Andras. Anything that is not needed for the former tent city residents, will help others in need, he added.

"You also have new immigrants and people released from halfway houses and jails, if they can find an apartment, they are unfurnished. Sister Anne (from Furniture Bank) delivers 45 beds a week."

Goodwill donated glasses, cutlery, couches, tables and chairs, pots and pans and a truck and drivers.

National Club donated dishes and the Park Hyatt contributed linens. Tippet Richardson also donated movers and drivers to help transport the furnishings to the apartments.

"It’s an example of the community working together at its best," Aras said.

The city made it possible for 60 former residents of tent city, who were evicted on Sept. 24 from land owned by Home Depot, to secure an "affordable" place to live.

"This new rent subsidy program is a pilot project. It involves existing apartments — 60 so far — and another 20 should be on the way in a week or so," he added. "The city tops up the rent the (residents) pay from welfare (cheques) or employment."

"Woodgreen (Community Centre) is providing support to maintain the housing," concluded Andras. "It costs $800 on average for a one bedroom in this city and the portion of welfare for housing is only $325."

"It’s great that we (the city) can provide around 80 apartments that have been acquired. Thanks to all those involved, we are making a difference in a huge housing issue in the city," said Brian F.C. Smith, president of Woodgreen.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Jan 2 2003 3:00 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto