Toronto's homeless are having difficulty accessing basic toilet facilities right now
All non-essential stores and services were ordered to close last month. These closures – along with a lack of portable toilets and hand-washing stations across the city – have left many of Toronto’s homeless without a place to go to the bathroom or wash their hands.
“Community centres are closed, libraries are closed, malls are closed and people can’t access things like a bathroom for basic hygiene,” says Diana McNally, training and engagement coordinator at Toronto Drop-In Network (TDIN).
Hey #Toronto. This is Jonus. He’s got a few things he’s like to share about misperceptions of homeless + what it’s like trying to survive in Toronto right now in this pandemic without a place to live. Please listen. Donate if you can. We need your help. #topoli #homeless #canada pic.twitter.com/mGvt9j5I4u— jennifer evans (@nejsnave) April 15, 2020
“Also being able to find food is increasingly difficult. Spaces like Tim Hortons used to be a place where folks who needed to be indoors could just quietly sit, eat or utilize the bathroom facilities and that’s not available anymore.”
Manager of TDIN, Susan Bender says this has created an increasingly difficult situation for the homeless population.
"Seeing how difficult it is for people when they don't have access to toilets and a safe space to just sit and have a coffee, it's really hard – both emotionally and mentally – for staff and volunteers to see."
Currently there are only seven portable toilets and hand-washing stations spread out across the city. Until more are added, homeless indivduals remain dependant on drop-in centres to access a toilet, fresh water and soap.
Bender says within TDIN’s network of nearly 60 drop-in centres across the city, only nine are still open right now.
“Drop-ins might have one or two toilets, three or four at the most, and they have to be disinfected every time they're used,” she says.“People come desperate and need to use the washroom, so how are lineups supposed to work in that situation?”
Bender says homeless individual’s access to information surrounding closures and the pandemic is also incredibly limited.
“We have information on our website, but where would you access a computer? You’d do that at the library or the community centre.”
McNally says this means that they’re seeing a lot more people on the streets with anxiety and fear about not being able to access even their most basic needs.
“I'm running into folks hanging out on Dundas or Queen Street and they're asking me what's happening, saying that they don't know what's going on or what to do."
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