Seaton House Redevelopment
Seaton House has begun an informal round of discussions regarding potential changes in the footprint and mix of transtional housing and hostel beds at the George Street location. They recently asked members of the Community Police Liason Committee at 51 division for their input by answering the following questions. The number of hostel beds in our immediate area impacts on our community and our role as members of the CPLC is important and making our voices heard. You may emial your responses to the emails below. (We include our email so we too can get an idea of how the community feels about Seaton House Hostel as well as Maxwell Meighan Hostel.)
Although the Slavation Army run Maxwell Meighan Hostel is a seperate entity it is likely that that complex will also undergo renovation in the next few years as well.
The following is our response to the questions asked.
Questions for Discussion:
1. What is your role as the 51 Division CPLC and have you had any relationship with Seaton House?
Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association sends a representative to the CPLC. This representative takes our concerns to the committee and reports to our membership on current polices matters.
As to our relationship with Seaton House, anyone living within a 10 block radius of Seaton House is impacted by the sheer numbers of homeless men drawn to the area. The surrounding neighbourhoods are unable to absorb the sheer number of homeless which overwhelm area service providers, public institutions like libraries and community centers.
We deal with individuals self medicating with alcohol and drug consumption, panhandling, scavenging and use of our gardens, parks and laneways as public toilets.
Super concentration of hostels in the area has an huge impact on the neighbourhood and services such as police, fire and ambulance are overtaxed by this concentration of hostel beds in the neighbourhood.
Hostels are instrumental in the further concentrate of single men into area social housing complexes, creating housing that is univiting to women, couples and families.
These problems with in the hostels are then exported to area social housing buildings.
2. What challenges do you see or have you heard about from the neighbourhood regarding
George Street between Dundas and Gerrard?
The “challenges” are not limited to George Street between Dundas and Gerrard which many community members consider a no-go area because it is felt to be unsafe and unsavory. The impact spills for blocks and blocks.
There is a limit as to what any neighbourhood can absorb. Investment in the neighbourhood has been negatively impacted by concentration of hostel beds in the area. The neighbourhood lacks a commercial base as well as services such as banks, grocery stores and other small businesses.
Smaller homeless populations distributed throughout the city would make it easier for the surrounding residential, business, religious organizations and the service community to absorb and help individuals move forward.
3. How could a new facility contribute to a safer local community?
A smaller facility, with diverse transitional housing and programs that keep clients focused on moving forward with their lives would make the neighbourhood safer.
In-house workshops and retraining facilities could help stem the number of individuals aimlessly wandering the neighbourhood.
4. Do you have any recommendations for the design of a new facility?
Fewer hostel beds, a good mix of transitional housing, mixed market rent/home ownership would be a good template for the Seaton House property, George Street , Pembroke Street and Sherbourne Street .
5. Are there any 'best practices' you would like to see implemented?
Fair share and balance. Small well managed, client engaged hostel/transitional and mixed housing model should be implemented in more neighbourhoods of the city, not just concentrated in one area of the city. Hostels/housing that have a positive impact on their surrounding neighbourhoods can be a welcome addition.
Hostel bed/housing providers need to develop models that improve the lives of their clients and improve the look and feel of the surrounding neighbourhoods. If part of the hostel/housing mandate was to engage clients in volunteering their efforts to the surrounding community with daily duties such as keeping neighbourhood parks clear of litter, graffiti and the like it would be a win-win situation for all concerned.
Work with the homeless to better educate, train and develop skills which leads to employment opportunities through apprenticeship and internship programs. Give people the skills to create their own jobs and opportunities.
Do not turn clients out onto the street during the day.
Our community plays host to Seaton House and it has a huge influence on our neighbourhood. We are anticipating that the new facility will deliver significant improvements for our neighbourhood.