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50 Years Later, Toronto’s First Women’s Shelter Still Experiences Overwhelming Demand

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 11:49 am

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Street Haven At The Crossroads Serves 1,400 Women Every Year

Street Haven Hosts 50th Anniversary Open House and Community Barbeque, August 29

TORONTO, ON (August 11, 2015) – In 1965, Toronto’s first women’s shelter Street Haven at the Crossroads (Street Haven) opened its doors to address the lack of services for Toronto’s homeless and at-risk women. Now commemorating its 50th anniversary this year, the multi-service agency serves 1,400 women a year and continues to experience an overwhelming demand, often beyond what the agency can meet.

Street Haven, will commemorate the hard work of its staff and volunteers over the past half-century and raise awareness of homelessness with an open house and community barbeque on Saturday, August 29 from 12-6pm at 87 Pembroke Street. The day will feature delicious food, live music including a special performance by the Street Haven choir, family games, a caricature artist, remarks from women Street Haven serves, a photo booth, and more.

The free event will also enable the community to learn more about the work Street Haven does, the issue of homelessness in Toronto, the myths about homelessness and what can be done to resolve the issue.

According to the Homeless Hub’s “State of Homelessness in Canada 2014” report, over 235,000 people in Canada experience homelessness each year with 35,000 Canadians experiencing homelessness on any given night; an increase from 2013. Over the past five years, as many as 1.3 million Canadians have experienced homelessness or extremely insecure housing.

“Increasing costs of living, insufficient affordable housing and supportive housing are significantly contributing to homelessness in Toronto. Now more than ever, we are experiencing an overwhelming demand for Street Haven’s services and regretfully, it isn’t going away,” said Anne Topp, Executive Director of Street Haven. “We need to solve this problem. Homelessness is incredibly dangerous for women, who are at an increased risk of experiencing violence.”

The root causes of homelessness amongst women are one or many of the following: poverty, past traumas (physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse as children or adults), mental health issues, discrimination, immigration issues, discharge from hospitalization, loss of housing due to insufficient income and unaffordable and/or unsafe housing.

“There are many misconceptions about homelessness – that homeless individuals don’t want to work, they are lazy and they choose to be homeless. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Topp. “I grew up in a middle class neighbourhood, but at the age of 17, I found myself no longer welcome in my family’s home. I ended up being homeless for several years, living on the streets and struggling to survive.”

Over the past 50 years Street Haven has provided thousands of women with the tools and resources needed to achieve their potential and improve their quality of life. Street Haven’s services include a 50-bed emergency shelter, meals, clothing, residential addictions program and counselling, supportive housing, skills development, education and case management services to support women in making important changes in their lives.

To learn more about Street Haven, please visit

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About Street Haven at the Crossroads
Street Haven at the Crossroads (Street Haven) is a multi-service agency that provides wraparound services for women experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness. Street Haven believes that all women are worthwhile and that they deserve, in addition to the physical necessities of life, to be treated with dignity and to be given the tools and opportunities to achieve their potential.

Serving an average of 1,400 women each year, Street Haven, provides women with a place to sleep, a place to heal, a place to grow and a place to live independently with access to a service continuum that includes the emergency shelter, a supportive housing program, addiction services and a learning centre. This integrated model provides opportunities for women to feel connected and supported through their process of healing. Having a community to rely on makes a huge difference in their ability to move forward in life.

Media Contact:
Andrea McLoughlin
Holmes PR