Toronto Prepares for Homeless Encampments This Summer

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Homelesss in Thunder Bay
Homelesss in Thunder Bay are finding places to sleep outside. Self Isolating and protecting themselves is really hard.

In July 2022, the City of Toronto accepted the Ombudsman’s interim recommendations on encampment prevention and enforcement, which included updating the Encampment Interdepartmental Protocol (IDP) adopted by Council in 2005 to ensure a coordinated, City-wide approach to encampment response and to reflect operational and organizational changes. The Ombudsman also recommended the inclusion of a “rights-based approach to housing” to support the City’s work responding to encampments.

To effectively update the IDP, the Ombudsman recommended that the work be informed by feedback collected through consultation with the community, including people with lived experiences in encampments, community organizations that provide services to people impacted by homelessness, and internal and external stakeholders working in the fields of homelessness and human rights. Community consultation work is now underway, with consultation engagements scheduled in March and April through a third-party facilitator. The approach is focused on collaboration through a transparent public process that will result in more broadly supported outcomes.

Initial consultation outreach will be focused on people with lived experience, community partners and advocates, Indigenous service providers, and Business Improvement Areas, Neighbourhood Associations, and Residents’ Associations to represent the voices of affected communities. Several approaches will be used to communicate and consult with the community, including focus groups, place-based conversations held at encampment areas for people with lived experience, and key informant interviews.

The facilitator will provide a consultation report in spring 2023 detailing the consultation findings. This report will be a critical input to the update of the City Encampment IDP. The report will be made public and will also be shared with consultation participants and the community. A Council report with a broader update on work underway to address the Ombudsman’s interim recommendations is also planned for 2023. A final Ombudsman’s report on the City approach to encampments is also expected this year.

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