When we renovated our main affordable housing site at Queen and Jarvis Streets in 2011, we designated 20 units on the second floor as a transitional housing program to help people who are homeless and suffering from addictions rebuild their lives. Each person living in these units have long histories of street homelessness or periods of incarceration. They all have had difficulty finding and keeping a home.
For up to one year, residents receive intensive support for daily living from our staff so they may prepare to move into permanent housing. Support doesn’t end when someone graduates from the program; our staff continues to follow up with each person individually and maintains strong relationships with their landlords.
Although the program, funded by the Toronto Local Health Integration Network , is still young, our statistics suggest that if a resident is able to stay committed to the program for more than six months, their chances of finding and keeping an apartment in the future increase dramatically.
One of the women who was successfully housed in a senior’s bachelor apartment through the Fred Victor Women’s Transition to Housing Program, Mary Williams (above left) with her Fred Victor housing worker, Shannon Soropia.
In response to occupancy pressure in the shelter system, Fred Victor was selected by the City of Toronto to operate a 37-bed Women’s Transition to Housing Program for homeless women at 386 and 388 Dundas Street East.
Women’s Transition to Housing is designed to prevent one-time shelter users from becoming chronic/long-term users by providing privacy, safety and all the supports necessary to quickly re-house women within a span of 12 months. Women’s mental health, life and employment skills quickly deteriorate the longer they remain in emergency shelters.
So, this rapid re-housing program, which opened at a temporary location on 389 Church Street in August 2014, streams out women who have been homeless and in the shelter system for less than one year. If they are mobile, independent and motivated to move into permanent housing with support from Fred Victor staff, they readily find their way out of homelessness. The Women’s Transition to Housing program is connected to CAMH and the Sherbourne Health Centre.
Fred Victor’s Transitional Shelter for Older Women is a partnership between Fred Victor and Loft Community Services that serves women who are 55 years of age or older and who experience complex physical and mental health, developmental and/or substance-use difficulties.
The shelter welcomes women with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, disability from stroke, glaucoma combined with unstable mental health among many other challenges.
LOFT co-ordinates the care of the seniors by planning for appropriate permanent housing and providing Personal Support Workers to residents who need help with daily living and personal care. Fred Victor manages the day-to-day operation of the shelter and community development programs such as social and recreational activities.
Women are referred to the Transitional Shelter for Older Women by Toronto emergency shelters and through the City’s Central Intake.