Toronto's Out of the Cold program set to open its doors for another winter season

Emergency shelter provided by Out of the Cold still desperately needed but it's not a long-term solution to homelessness

TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2016 /CNW/ - Starting tonight, 16 faith-based organizations will open their doors and offer emergency shelter, safe refuge and hospitality to some of the most vulnerable men and women in our city.

Out of the Cold, a volunteer-run initiative offering a warm bed and a hot meal to those in need during the winter months, was originally intended as a temporary measure in response to a desperate need to help some of the city's poorest. Today, it is approaching its 30th season; and with more than 12,000 bed-nights provided each year, the program is now a long-standing response system that has been incorporated into Toronto's Emergency Cold Weather Alert System (ECWA).

Out of the Cold sites offer a warm, safe place for people to spend the night, a nutritious evening meal, and a range of other support services such as clothing, legal clinics, laundry facilities, medical and foot care. The program is made possible with the support of more than 3,000 volunteers.

Last winter, Out of the Cold sites served 27,940 meals to individuals in Toronto struggling with food insecurity. This represents an increase of about 20% from the year before.

The 2016/17 OOTC season will see an increased focus on providing additional supports to the homeless men and women who come to the OOTC sites, with a goal of moving people away from precarious, temporary housing situations, and closer to long-term solutions through coordinated access to housing, health, education and food.

"As we approach our 15th season with our Out of the Cold partners, Dixon Hall is encouraged by, and appreciative of, the new support systems provided by city funders and Toronto's faith-based organizations," said David Reycraft, Director of Housing Services at Dixon Hall. "We are acutely aware of the value of these community supports, yet conscious that this is not a long-term solution to homelessness. When the season ends, the people who access Out of the Cold sites will return to living on the streets – we need to address, and work to mitigate the profound challenges of homelessness through the creation of sustainable and deeply affordable housing options."

Dixon Hall provides professional services at 14 OOTC sites, including housing supports, referrals, safety, security, and most importantly, consistency and reassurance to the homeless men and women who access the OOTC program.

About Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services

Dixon Hall is a multi-service agency located in the heart of east downtown Toronto. www.dixonhall.org

For more than 85 years, Dixon Hall has offered a wide variety of supportive programs and services to a diverse range of community members living in Regent Park, Moss Park, Cabbagetown, St. James Town and surrounding neighbourhoods. Dixon Hall works with seniors, children and youth, homeless men and women, people searching for employment, and other community members in need of support.

Dixon Hall's Housing Services department has been providing shelter services for the homeless and vulnerably housed in the city of Toronto for more than two decades. We respond to the immediate housing needs of those who require our services and we work with individuals to assist them in improving their overall quality of life.

SOURCE Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services

For further information: Denise Gho, Communications Manager, 416.846.5576, denise.gho@dixonhall.org; David Reycraft, Housing Services Director, 416.863.0499, david.reycraft@dixonhall.org

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www.dixonhall.org

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