The three-year pilot project, which began last summer, is testing whether no-strings-attached cash support can boost health, education and housing for people living in poverty.

Margie Goold, who suffers debilitating arthritis, bought a new walker.

Lance Dingman, who lost his right leg to a chronic bone disease, is no longer running out of groceries by the middle of the month.

Wendy Moore, who has been homeless for almost two years, is looking for an apartment.

The three Hamilton residents are part of the first wave of participants in Ontario’’s experiment with basic income, a monthly, no-strings-attached payment of up to $1,400 for people living in poverty. Those with disabilities receive an additional $500 a month.

The future of the only homeless shelter in The Pas is in doubt after several residents opposed moving it to the town’s downtown core.

The shelter had been given a deadline of March 31, 2018 to move out of their current building at 344 Ross Avenue. Manitoba Housing is currently negotiating an extension to June 30, but that has not been finalized.

Around 10 pm last night, we secured a significant victory in the fight for shelters. Council voted 34-8 in favour of a motion to make the necessary funds to build 1,000 shelter beds available this year.

Mobilizations of homeless people and their allies, like the one we had yesterday, have forced the City and the Mayor to dramatically shift positions. In a span of a few months, they went from downplaying the seriousness of the crisis, to acknowledging there was one; from refusing to open necessary respite sites, to opening 8 this winter; from planning to shut down the respite sites in April to budgeting money to keep them open until the end of the year; and finally, from refusing to budget money for 1,000 beds this year to doing so last night. It’s a testament to the power of fighting back.

Mayor John Tory’s “just right” budget will guarantee continued misery for the homeless

Budget day rally and action at City Hall on Monday, February 12, starting at 9am, to demand that council approve 1500 new shelter beds, and add at-least 1000 this year, to alleviate the deadly crisis plaguing homeless people in Toronto.

Toronto: The preliminary budget championed by Mayor John Tory adds a maximum of 361 new shelter beds this year. That’s less than a quarter of the 1500 that are necessary to guarantee a bed for everyone in need. The 361 number also includes 81 transitional housing beds, which won’t be available on an emergency basis, reducing the tally of new shelter beds to 280. With the shelter system packed to capacity, over 700 people are currently forced to stay the back-up system of sub-standard respite centres.

The future of Toronto’s shelter system is set to be decided next week at a special budget meeting and CityNews has obtained exclusive footage from inside some of these shelters, which some say are often cold, overcrowded and unsanitary.

“You’re surrounded by a sea of people suffering, who are sick, some people sound like they are dying,” said Paul Salvatori, a photojournalist who provided CityNews with the exclusive video.

The City of Toronto recently approved a motion to introduce 1,000 shelter beds over the next three years. An amendment was added by Coun. Kristen Wong-Tam to expedite the process if suitable shelter sites are identified sooner. This vote was bitter-sweet for many folks, as we finally had city councillors recognize what front line staff, advocates and service users have been voicing for several years: that we are in the midst of a critical shelter crisis.

Unfortunately, this motion and recognition does not go far enough to address the dire circumstances we are in both in the short-term and the long-term.

Being in Toronto’s homeless shelter system is “like riding an overstuffed subway or streetcar,” said Dana Dack, a harm reduction worker for Sistering, a Toronto non-profit for homeless or precariously-housed women.

“You have no space, you can’t breathe, and you start having anxiety,” Dack said. “At least when you get off of the subway or streetcar, you can go home.” This isn’t the case for those living in Toronto’s shelters.

The City of Toronto’s homeless shelter services are in immediate need of 1,500 additional beds for those in the homeless community, said Toronto Frontline Agencies and Advocates’ (TFAA) earlier this week during a press conference at Toronto City Hall.