It’s an approach to homelessness that says the best way to help people overcome addictions, mental illness and other issues that led them to a life on the streets is to begin by putting a roof over their head.
A concept long favoured in some American cities, it moved to Toronto three years ago. Today, it’s set to get a huge funding boost from city council, which is poised to approve spending nearly $5 million a year more to expand its $8.7-million Streets to Homes program (S2H).
The additional cash, approved by council’s executive committee earlier this month, will permit hiring more social workers and beefing up support services to help people find homes and jobs, in an effort to curb panhandling.
The compassionate strategy, a reversal from the get-tough approach of issuing $100 tickets in an effort to scare panhandlers off the streets, has been endorsed by Toronto business and tourism officials. S2H is being widely applauded because of the city funding commitment and the fact it’s bringing together politicians, social activists, businesses, the tourist industry and police to confront the problem.