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Toronto to conduct its 4th homeless survey Thursday night

Last Updated Apr 26, 2018 at 12:38 pm EDT

A homeless person panhandles for money during an extreme cold weather alert for the City of Toronto on Dec. 13, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

In an effort to better understand the city’s homeless population, nearly a thousand volunteers, community agencies and city staff will fan out across the city Thursday evening to ask people experiencing homelessness about the services they need.

Mary-Anne Bedard, the city’s Director of Housing Policy and Strategic Investments, said that volunteers will be asking the city’s most vulnerable 23 questions.

On top of questions about physical and mental health, volunteers will be asking “When did you first become homeless? What were the factors contributing to your homelessness and are you working now?”

“Amazingly a number of people can’t afford to live in Toronto so they’re actually having to stay in our shelter system while they’re working,” she said.

This is Toronto’s fourth homeless count and survey with the results used to help the city improve current programs and plan for the future.

“We’re going to be going into all of our municipal shelters, the violence against women shelters, correctional facilities, health facilities and also out on the street,looking to talk to people who are experiencing homelessness,” Bedard said.

Mayor John Tory said the street needs assessment gives people who are homeless a loud and clear voice – and gives the city critical data to better understand how and why people are using these services.

There has been a 30-per-cent increase year-over-year in the number of people accessing the city’s emergency shelter system.