When No Road Leads to Home

Reflections from the Moss Park Armoury
by The Salvation Army in Canada
Categories: Newswire

For months, 83-year-old Elsie has slept rough on the streets of Toronto while she tries to get a foot in the door―any door. “I’ve never faced challenges such as this,” Elsie tells a Salvation Army worker. “All I seek is a safe, secure place to lay my head every night.”

Moss Park cots

Moss Park cots

Elsie is one of more than a hundred people experiencing homelessness who are camped out on cots at Toronto’s Moss Park Armoury. The temporary shelter was established by the city due to extreme weather conditions and The Salvation Army was grateful to respond to the call for assistance in providing 100 meals a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The Salvation Army doesn’t just provide meals,” says Colonel Lee Graves, Chief Secretary for The Salvation Army. “Our ministry is also about the conversations that take place. We are meeting beautiful, well-educated people with heart-wrenching stories about their own reality and circumstances. They just want to be heard and many had great ideas about solutions to their needs.”

Elsie’s Story

Elsie’s challenges began a year ago when the owner of a house she was renting passed away. The house was later sold and Elsie moved into a basement apartment.

“I lived there for many months,” says Elsie. “Then, when the water heater broke and flooded the apartment I lost all my belongings. I found another basement apartment but the landlord refused to give me a tax receipt so I moved out. I made over 100 calls to find a home, I even have letters stating I am a preferred tenant, but no one wanted to house an elderly woman. I was in shock.”

Unable to find a suitable place to live, Elsie rented a car and lived in it for three months. Then, she slept in the backyard of a church.

“The church yard was very secure,” Elsie grins. “I layered blankets with cardboard and plastic and had free access to a shower at the community centre. Looking at me, no one would ever guess I was homeless.”

Elsie is grateful for temporary shelter so she can focus on finding a place to live and bring her furniture out of storage. “I will succeed,” says Elsie.” Meanwhile, she is grateful for The Salvation Army, their care and encouragement.

Compassion and Care

“I haven’t come across this kindness and caring in my entire life,” says Elsie. “The Salvation Army can’t take care of me enough. If I don’t go to the food table, they bring it to me. They have listened to my story and are making phone calls to help lead me to a housing solution.  I really feel cared for.”

Elsie isn’t asking for much. She just wants to live independently and with dignity. “I will find a home,” says Elsie. “I just have to be patient.”