Along with staff and students of St Michael's College School, Basilian priest Rev. John Murphy and Anglican priest Rev. John Erb she helped found the Toronto Out of the Cold program in 1987 in response to a homeless man who died near the school (it took me a long time to find his name - which is George - he was beaten to death over a drug dispute).
Did you know that there is an online resource called the Toronto Homeless Memorial Official List that goes year by year listing the names of those who died? Did you know that Holy Trinity Church also keeps an up to date list as well?
Out of the Cold (OOTC) is a free informal service for marginalized and homeless people, particularly those who do not wish to use the formal hostel system. Overnight shelter is provided in a different church, temple/synagogue or centre each night (mats or cots serve as beds). The services are run by volunteers.
OOTC sites offer a warm, safe place for guests to spend the night, a nutritious evening meal, as well as additional supports such as clothing rooms, legal clinics and laundry facilities.
Sister Susan Moran was awarded the Order of Canada for social services for her work with the homeless in 1996.
copyright the Toronto Star Archives
Below is a current list of various faith groups and others who are providing space and organizing volunteers and services to help the homeless in Toronto via the Out of the Cold program. There is a calendar here as well that shows the various locations and times/days when they provide services.
- All Saints' (Kingsway) Anglican Church - Friday Overnight Hostel for Men
- Beth Sholom Synagogue - Tuesday Overnight Hostel, January to March
- Blythwood Road Baptist Church - Saturday Overnight Hostel
- Chinese Gospel Church - Thursday Overnight Hostel for Men, January to March
- Eastminster United Church - Friday Overnight Hostel
- Evangel Hall - Tuesday Overnight Hostel
- First Interfaith/St Matthew's United Church - Thursday Overnight Hostel
- Holy Blossom Temple - Thursday Overnight Hostel
- St Aidan's Church - Monday Overnight Hostel
- St Brigid's / St Catherine of Siena - Monday Overnight Hostel
- St Margaret New Toronto - Monday Overnight Hostel for Men
- St Patrick's Catholic Church - Sunday Overnight Hostel
- University Settlement Recreation Centre - Friday, Saturday and Sunday Overnight Hostel, Winter Schedule - October to May
- University Settlement Recreation Centre - Saturday and Sunday Overnight Hostel, Summer Schedule - June to September
- Yorkminster Park Baptist Church - Wednesday Overnight Hostel
If you're interested in reading about Out of the Cold, then author Michael Swan, the Associate Editor of The Catholic Register, has written a close-up account that you can borrow from the library.
If you are interested in the issue of homelessness in Toronto, there is a wide variety of material including many government reports that might be of interest. It is both sad and ironic that report after report has been written, going back as far back as 1960 with the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto's Report of Committee on Homeless and Transient Men. There are also many other reports written all through the 1990s and 2000s.
As well, there are several titles below that are more community based:
You may also be interested in Home Safe Toronto, a 2009 DVD documentary that focuses on family poverty and homelessness locally. It features well known street nurse and activist Cathy Crowe. There is more information about it and a preview at this site.
During the recent cold alert in December 2016 in Toronto, Crowe was one of the people calling for the local armories to be opened as temporary shelters. The Toronto Star just wrote an editorial about this issue: Find Emergency Shelters for the Homeless.
Cathy Crowe presented the The Fifth Annual June Callwood Lecture "Dying For A Home: Fighting For Our Social Programs (Kitchen is the Heart of the Home)" at Toronto Public Library as seen below - this is part two (part one is here):
There are many online resources available that look at homelessness in Toronto. I was surprised to see the number of videos on YouTube. I found this one "What it's like to be Homeless" set under the columns of Toronto city hall to be very realistic.
Poverty, hunger and homelessness are not new problems. Toronto has a long history of religious and secular organizations as well as governments trying to grapple with this problem. I think the approach of religious groups is much less heavy handed now and the motivation has moved from charity to social justice. Below are some vintage photographs from 1912 of the Yonge Street Mission where the link between food, service and listening to a sermon were deeply linked. You may also be interested in reading The Fred Victor Mission story: From charity to social justice (and more information about them from their website).