Shelter for Homeless Seniors

shelter director opens the doors for seniors experiencing homelessness
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On December 15, 2018, at the request of the City of Toronto, The Salvation Army opened a new shelter for seniors in the North Etobicoke region of Toronto.

“With roughly 20 to 22 percent of people who access emergency shelters being 55 years of age or older, the City of Toronto saw a need for a seniors’ shelter,” says Mauricio Urtecho, shelter director. In the first few weeks, the shelter reached its capacity and has had full occupancy ever since.”

“Many come to us with no families or means of support.”

Currently the shelter has the capability to house 45 residents; when renovations are completed in 2020 it will offer 90 beds. In addition, the shelter provides fresh meals, spiritual care and a caseworker who focuses on clients’ needs beyond the shelter.

“Our goal is to achieve the successful reintegration of the client into the community,” says Urtecho. “That means moving people from the streets or homeless shelters into stable housing.”

The seniors’ shelter is the first in the area and, as part of The Salvation Army’s commitment to community engagement, a liaison committee was established to work collaboratively with community members, agencies and service providers to achieve the best possible outcome for guests and the local community.

“Seniors experience homelessness for a variety of reasons, such as the lack of income to pay for housing, relationship breakdowns and substance abuse,” says Urtecho. “Many come to us with no families or means of support. We come alongside them throughout their journeys.”

“One by one, we are making sure we meet their needs.”

Urtecho is pleased with how the community has embraced the need for a seniors’ shelter, and plans are in place to hire more case managers, housing workers and community follow-up workers.

“The seniors’ shelter is a much-needed service,” says Urtecho. “Without it our guests would be trapped in the cycle of living on the streets. One by one, we are making sure we meet their needs.”