WE NEED TO HELP WORKING POOR
by Robyn Lee
The results and key findings from Toronto’s "Street Needs Assessment" were presented to Toronto City Council this summer for consideration. As the first step in Toronto’s commitment to end street homelessness, staff assertions that "the assessment provides sound information to improve programs and services and work toward ending street homelessness" are highly questionable.
The methodology used to gather this information has received criticism from a number of groups, including the Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated People. Besides its intrusive and impersonal nature, the Street Needs Assessment did not include the "hidden homeless" –individuals and families forced to "couch surf" with family and friends, and who, according to homeless studies in other communities, represent the largest number of those without homes. The time and money spent provided little more than a head count of the homeless people who were "visible" on the evening of April 19 of this year. Even though city officials knew this limitation before "the count," they wanted numbers (of people living on the streets) to monitor the success of the From Streets to Homes project. The city claims that this assessment provides answers to what these people need.