Services for the Homeless in Toronto

Homelessness is one of the greatest challenges of big cities across the globe that can have a considerable impact on such aspects as public health and public order. In 2020, the estimated number of homeless people living in Canada was 235,000, which equals a population of a town (Purdon & Palleja, 2019). Toronto officials are specifically concerned about this problem due to the situation associated with the dramatic spread of COVID-19, which has caused substantial financial losses for the city. Toronto’s government is now considering a novel program aimed at addressing homelessness by turning affordable office spaces into shelters and associated facilities for the homeless (Kivanç, 2020). However, an increase in the number of regular shelters and harm reduction services is unlikely to be worth raising taxes in post-COVID Toronto as funds can be allocated more wisely.

First, it is necessary to note that the provision of shelter is a moral and beneficial practice for the city. Regular shelters and harm reduction facilities are necessary as they are instrumental in solving several problems. On the one hand, the provision of housing opportunities helps people to address their immediate needs in some of the most tragic moments of their lives. Many people lose their homes due to major financial issues or personal losses (Purdon & Palleja, 2019). On the other hand, the city’s public spaces are not flooded by crowds of homeless individuals with their tents and other belongings. However, regular shelters and harm reduction facilities fail to meet the needs of this population that is not homogeneous. Aggression, addiction, and violence are common issues dwellers of shelters have to face due to conflicts that are initiated by their peers (Kivanç, 2020). Therefore, the allocation of more funds into regular shelters and harm reduction facilities will not lead to improvements.

Food donations are common services that require considerable investment. The provision of food is another moral act that contributes to the maintenance of public order and public health. The homeless do not starve in the streets as they can get the necessary food of good quality in the appropriate and sanitary conditions (Purdon & Palleja, 2019). Some investment is needed to ensure that these services are available, but increasing funding of regular food donations will also be less effective compared to new options.

Comprehensive programs for homeless people are necessary to address the problem and make taxpayers’ financial input more effective. The taxes can be allocated more wisely if only the smaller part will be used to fund regular shelters and other facilities. The provision of such services often corrupts many individuals who are vulnerable and can lose motivation to reintegrate into society. Homeless people should be provided with an opportunity to earn money rather than live on donations. The life of homeless people is harsh, and they do not see any opportunities due to limited access to employment associated with stigma. Therefore, programs for homeless people need to encourage these people to be involved in building and maintaining the facilities they are using. Differentiation is another important aspect to be considered as homeless people have different needs and abilities. It is important to provide different types of employment and further training, which can be facilitated by homeless people themselves.

In conclusion, it is necessary to note that funding regular shelters, food donations, and harm reduction facilities are not cost-effective, so raising taxes to allocate funds to such projects is unproductive. Taxpayers’ money should fund more efficient projects that do not simply provide food and shelter but motivate and enable homeless people to reintegrate into society. New initiatives should encompass the active participation of homeless people, making them actors rather than passive recipients of donations.


Kivanç, J. (2020). Toronto considering ambitious homeless housing plan in wake of COVID-19 pandemic. CBC News. Web.

Purdon, N., & Palleja, L. (2019). ‘We’re everywhere now’: Meet the homeless in Canada’s largest city. CBC News. Web.

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