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City of Toronto acquires hotels, rental buildings for homeless in response to coronavirus

Last Updated Mar 29, 2020 at 5:58 pm EST

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

The City of Toronto has acquired hotels and residential buildings as part of it’s “integrated homelessness response to COVID-19,” Coun. Joe Cressy said on Sunday.

In a post of Twitter, Cressy said five hotels have been acquired with another five in the process of being secured. Two vacant rental buildings are also in the process of being acquired and 50 permanent housing units have been identified. He added that 19 households have secured permanent housing.

The latest acquisitions are in addition to the nine existing sites the city has already opened to facilitate social distancing within the shelter system.

Cressy added that the city has provided funding to five community partners that run overnight programs to stay open all day to provide daytime spaces for those experiencing homelessness. Two sites are now open and three others will open shortly.

The move comes as advocates sounded the alarm of a possible explosion of COVID-19 among those experiencing homelessness due to a lack of space in shelters to observe proper social distancing.

They added that the homeless population is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to other underlying conditions that range from mental health problems to addiction issues, chronic heart and lung problems.

Last week, the city said Toronto has also set up an isolation centre for the homeless at a former shelter in the east end, where those with symptoms can await test results. Once it is fully operational, there will be 40 rooms available. There is another facility set up for those who need to self-isolate after travelling.

There are also plans to open a recovery centre for those who test positive, the city said.

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