2016-2017 Out of the Cold Program Ends with Report Showing Growing Demand Exceeding Supply

TORONTO, April 24, 2017 /CNW/ - The 2016-2017 Out of the Cold Program (OOTC) comes to an end on Monday, April 24.  As the program closes, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services released for the first time an annual report titled "Out of the Cold – 30 Years Later – A Growing Crisis" indicating 2016-2017 season data. The report highlights that there were 13,199 overnight stays this season, representing a year over year increase of 9%.

In an attempt to manage demand, the program added capacity, increasing space by 6%. Despite this increase, total occupancy across the program is now 96%. As a result, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services predicts that the OOTC program will be at full capacity within two years; forcing dozens of men and women to find alternate accommodation each night.

"The Out of the Cold program is a life-saving community movement that is quickly headed towards full capacity with associated dire effects," said Neil Hetherington, CEO, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services. "Without a decrease in demand or added mats, there will be homeless people turned away each night."

The newly released data shares some encouraging results. "We've seen positive, long-term impact through case management work," continued Hetherington. "Out of the Cold guests who choose to work with a client intervention worker have a 42.5% chance of moving into permanent housing solutions."

The report goes on to demonstrate that one of the lowest-cost, high impact opportunities to move guests from OOTC into housing lies with adding more client intervention workers. In addition to housing solutions, 278 referrals were made to off-site programs and services, including Ontario Works, as well as education and health resources for guests to improve their current situation.

The OOTC program was originally intended to be a short-term solution with the immediate goal of preventing unnecessary deaths during extreme weather. It has evolved into an institutionalized program, heavily relied upon by the homeless with consistent occupancy regardless of extreme weather patterns. Program reliance points to the broader issues surrounding decent, affordable housing in Toronto and poverty in the city.

"What Dixon Hall does every day is crucial — not just meeting the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness, but also tracking trends so we can see the big picture more clearly," said Pedro Barata, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Public Affairs at United Way Toronto & York Region. "This report proves it's time for a more holistic approach to addressing rising demand. All of us, from service providers to funders to government and other partners, need a coordinated approach to solving this crisis — one that improves access to safe, affordable shelter at every level."

Please visit http://bit.ly/OOTC2017 to read Out of the Cold – 30 Years Later – A Growing Crisis" which provides all statistics surrounding usage and demographics of the guests.

About Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services

Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services is a multi-service agency located in east downtown Toronto. For more than 85 years, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services has offered over 45 supportive programs and services to seniors, youth, homeless men and women, the unemployed, and other vulnerable populations in Toronto.

About Out of the Cold

The OOTC program is run by volunteers who open their places of worship to Toronto's homeless. Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services works with 16 faith-based organizations, providing support in ensuring certain shelter standards are met and case management is delivered in order to provide guests with an opportunity of long-term housing solutions.

OOTC guests are provided a safe and warm place to stay and two hot and nutritious meals. In addition, some sites provide additional supports including clothing, nursing care, and laundry facilities. Each site provides shelter once a week from November – April annually.

Since 2003, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, supported by the City of Toronto, has provided management and operations support to the faith groups.

SOURCE Dixon Hall

For further information: about the Out of the Cold program please contact: Kali Madej, Communications Manager, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, 416.863.0499 x 2062, 647.223.4108, kali.madej@dixonhall.org; Neil Hetherington, CEO, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, 416.737.7112, neil.hetherington@dixonhall.org

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