The number of homeless people in Toronto is rising rapidly.
It is up 20% in Toronto, a city that once had a homeless population of about 60,000, according to the Canadian Association of Counties.
“We have more people on the street, we have more places where people are homeless, we’re seeing a lot more families who are living in tents,” Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters in February.
In February, the number of tents and cars were nearly a quarter of the city’s population.
“There are more people in the city than at any time in my tenure,” Blair said at the time.
“I have never seen such a dramatic spike in homelessness.”
But the number has increased since then.
On Thursday, the city council approved a proposal to build a tent city to house up to 400 families and up to 200 homeless people.
“Toronto is the first city in North America to adopt this policy of tent city,” Mayor John Tory said in a news conference.
Tory said he would consider an appeal against the decision if the council upholds the decision.
It is unclear how many families have been placed in tents.
Toronto City Council member Mary-Margaret McMahon said she has heard from a number of families that are “very worried.”
“Some of them were able to find a place, but there are families who have been moved to the street because they’re homeless, they’re not able to stay there,” she said.
McMahon, who represents a ward with an area of tents, said that while some people may be able to pay for rent or utilities in a tent, it will cost them.
She also said she believes the city should look at expanding the tenting program beyond families.
Some people who are sleeping in the street are sleeping on the sidewalk, she said, adding that the city could also offer some subsidies for people to rent out their spaces.
“It’s a way of providing shelter for the vulnerable, and we’re going to be doing that, but it’s also going to require the city to do more to get people out of the street,” she added.
Tory also wants the city budget to expand the shelter program and increase funding for the city.
“I think we should look to invest in this program so that it’s more sustainable for the future,” he said.