Mayor John Tory blames mental health issues for Toronto’s homelessness crisis. He’s wrong.

The dire and chaotic conditions within the shelter system and the lack of space and resources in them to accommodate diverse health needs, leave many in the lurch.

With the 7,329 shelter beds in the city full year-round, more than 1,000 people unable to access beds on any given night are forced to cram into warehouses, drop-in centres and temporary dome structures that function as respite centres, often sleeping on the floor or in chairs when cots aren’t provided. 

Some homeless people spend months and even years living in these respite centres exposed to constant noise, chronic sleep deprivation and extreme stress, as well as uncontrollable outbreaks of lice, scabies and infectious diseases. There is no respite.