Two Thirds See
Toronto’s Homeless Problem as Severe
One half approve of 15 new shelters being built
TORONTO November 24th
– In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1086
Toronto voters, two thirds describe Toronto’s homelessness problem as severe
(67%) and as many as one quarter describe it as “very severe” (26%). Taking
this position is common to Boomers (55 to 64 - 30%), females (32%) rather than
males (18%), among the least wealthy (41%), in Scarborough (30%), among the
least educated (secondary school or less - 36%), among those who commute by public
transit (30%). Doug Ford voters from the last election (31%), Olivia Chow votes
(41%) and those who disapprove of John Tory as mayor (32%).
However, voters see transit, infrastructure and inequality as
more serious than homelessness
When asked what the
most serious issues facing Toronto are, the largest group says “inadequate
transit” (32%), followed by income inequality (16%), crumbling infrastructure
(15%) and violent crime (13%). Fewer see homelessness (9%) or pedestrian and
cyclist safety as serious (5%). Homelessness is seen as especially pressing
among the least wealthy (16%) and the least educated (13%).
Three-in-ten have “some" or "a lot" of homeless
people in their neighbourhood
In total, 3-in-10
voters (31%) see some (22%) or “a lot” of homeless people in their
neighbourhoods (9%). Having a lot in the neighbourhood is especially common, of
course, in downtown Toronto (17%).
Vast majority feels safe walking in their neighbourhoods at
The wide majority of
voters in total (80%) say they feel “very” (43%) or “somewhat safe” (37%)
walking in their neighbourhoods at night. One sixth do not feel safe (15%), and
one twenty fifth do not walk in their neighbourhoods at night in the first
place (4%). Feeling the neighbourhood is safe is common to downtown Toronto
Job training for the homeless seen as best solution to the
When asked the best
solution to the city’s homelessness problem, the plurality suggest job training
(26%), followed by more low income housing (21%) and a guaranteed basic income
(19%). Few suggest the answer is more shelters (6%), more generous social
assistance (8%) or more beds in existing shelters (4%).
Consensus that there are too few shelter beds in Toronto
Close to one half of
voters agree there are too few shelter beds in Toronto (46%), while very few
think there are enough (12%) or too many (4%). As many as 4-in-10 can’t form an
opinion on the subject (39%).
More than a quarter give to the homeless once a week or more
In total, about one
quarter of voters give to the homeless in the street at least once a week
(28%), and one fifth claim they do so “daily” (21%). One third do not give
money to the homeless at all (34%).
One sixth have a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood already
One sixth of voters
already have a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood (15%), and this is most
common in the downtown (32%), East York (24%) and York (20%).
Majority approve of city building 15 new shelters
The majority of
Toronto voters approve of the city’s plan to build 15 new shelters (52%), and
approval is highest in York (64%) and lowest in Etobicoke (40%). Approval is
common to the youngest (62%), the least wealthy (63%), among those who commute
by transit (64%) and among Olivia Chow voters (68%).
Strong majority think shelters should be built wherever they’re
When voters are
asked where the new shelters should be located, the strong majority, 6-in-10,
say “wherever they are needed” (59%), while just one tenth want them limited to
non-residential areas only (12%). Few opt for downtown (6%) or downtown and
midtown only (7%). Incidence of wanting shelters built wherever they are needed
is common to the youngest (63%), females (64%) rather than males (55%), mid to
high income groups ($60K to $100K - 64%), in the downtown (69%), among the best
educated (post grad - 63%), among public transit (72%) and bicycle commuters
(73%) and among Olivia Chow voters (79%), but not Doug Ford voters (42%).
Opinion split on whether homeless shelter would be welcome in
Just more than one
third of voters would support a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood (36%),
while just less would not support it (32%). One quarter would neither oppose or
support the effort (24%) and about a tenth don’t have an opinion (8%). Support
is most characteristic of the youngest (45%), the least wealthy (46%), in the
downtown (45%), among those who commute by transit (47%) and bicycle (49%) and
among Olivia Chow voters (53%), but not Ford voters (25%).
Those who support a homeless shelter say “everyone deserves a
roof over their head”
When asked why they
would support a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood, most say “everyone
deserves a roof over their head” (50%), followed by those who say simply that
it’s “the right thing to do” (35%). Fewer say it is because a shelter will fit
into their neighbourhood (4%) or because there is already one there (5%).
Those who oppose a homeless shelter say it wouldn’t be safe
Those opposing a
shelter in their neighbourhood say it wouldn’t be safe for them and their
families (37%), followed by those who say it wouldn’t fit in the neighbourhood
(19%) and those who say it will lower property values (18%). Just one twentieth
say they already have a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood (6%).
6-in-10 support a shelter in their neighbourhood for women and
When the potential
shelter in their neighbourhood is described as a shelter for women and
children, the one third approving doubles to 6-in-10 (60%). Just one sixth oppose
such a shelter (16%) and a similar proportion would neither oppose nor support
“It is refreshing to
see that Toronto voters not only recognize the magnitude of the homelessness
problem, they are also willing to collectively take responsibility for
ameliorating the problem by, for the most part, welcoming shelters where they
live,” said Forum Research President, Dr.
Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at
email@example.com or at (416) 960-9603.