homeless in toronto

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).

“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." 

Lead photo by

briansenic


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

The surprisingly radical history of that church they built the Toronto Eaton Centre around

Bluffer's Park is home to the only beach along the Scarborough Bluffs

This is what three of the biggest new subway stations will be like on the Ontario Line

The roof at the Rogers Centre is open and people have thoughts on what it could be used for

Shoppers are lining up outside Toronto retail stores and you should stop judging them

Toronto couple picked up 6,000 garbage masks and gloves and they're not happy about it

Toronto Police rescue dog found running along the Gardiner Expressway

Trinity Bellwoods Park has a serious public urination problem