Serving Toronto's most liveable community with the Annex Gleaner

CHATTER: New shelter strategy employed on Davenport (Winter 2019)

March 14th, 2019 · No Comments

Having recently completed renovations, the Davenport Road Women’s Shelter is now permanently residing at 348 Davenport Road, near Dupont Street. The shelter is owned by the City of Toronto and run by YWCA Toronto. It provides transitionary housing for 56 homeless women, transgender or gender non-binary-identifying persons.

The location previously housed a shelter offering temporary respite, having urgently opened during a time of extreme cold weather as a response to the city’s ongoing housing shortages. The respite centre operated under a model that worked to place people in emergency temporary housing.  The new model answers many community concerns, including an increase in violence and drug use in the neighbourhood. Managers of the new shelter are working hard to connect with members of the Annex neighbourhood in the hopes that they can succeed in finding permanent housing and other forms of social support for women in need.

The shelter started operating in mid-January. According to Nina Gorka, YWCA Toronto’s Director of Shelters, Girls and Family Programs, the shelter is already housing clients and is set to reach capacity in mid-February.

At a community open house on January 19, locals had the chance to learn about the kinds of services offered by the shelter, as well as who it will house. Members of the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) and Councillor Mike Layton attended the open house.

“This is a good way for the community to see the conditions that clients of these services live in and what the realities are like for many people in the city,” says Layton. “Services like these are essential to have in cities like Toronto, that often face housing crises as they experience exponential growth.”

According to Gorka, the idea of hosting an open house at the shelter was that it would address the concerns expressed by many locals while the respite was operating. Many people often misunderstand the difference between respite centres and shelters, as they operate very differently. Shelters often house longer-staying clients seeking social support; and women in particular are often fleeing from domestic violence and may be seeking assistance in finding more permanent housing. Gorka states that when the local community is able to visit the site, people can see their neighbours and it “demystifies” the operation.

The duration of stay for each client will be different and highly dependent on their immediate needs: stays may range from a couple of nights to six months. Layton says that the clients for these much-needed services will be embraced by the community, no matter how long they stay.

“The Annex has a really proud community. They love their area, and they love their neighbourhood. We want to be seen as an addition to their community,” says Gorka.

—Lena Sanz Tovar/Gleaner News

Tags: Annex · News