Lack of Safety in Homeless Shelters

Content by Marco Hidalgo Romero – 3rd-year student in the Computer Science Program at Sheridan College.

These observations are based on my research of observations by individuals who had visited or been residents of these shelters.


I started working in the Ripples of Kindness program one month before COVID-19 had turned into a worldwide pandemic. During that time, we were more easily able to interact with the homeless people coming for food at Paroisse du Sacre-Coeur Church in Toronto. One in particular mentioned how unsafe most homeless shelters were and how he would rather stay out in the streets than go indoors to one of those places ever again. As I investigated further, I found out that this guy was actually more correct than we could ever imagine about many homeless shelters. Below are issues with certain GTA shelters expressed in Google Reviews.

Cawthra Shelter (Mississauga)

  • Shelter staff lack empathy and compassion even for a dog (Charmaine Campbell, 2019).
  • Bathroom was moldy, no air conditioning (though the staff room supposedly had it), and fights and shootings during stay (Kevin Serrick, 2019).

Wilkinson Road Shelter (Brampton)

  • The staff are only there for their paycheque and will not do anything to resolve issues involving bedbugs or cleanliness (Danny Charest, 2019).
  • A Peel Region social services provider had reported horror stories from his clients including fentanyl smoking in the bathroom, extensive usage of drugs, unprotected sex, rape, and violence; they even considered the place worse than a prison and advised that even Cawthra Shelter was a better option (MBZ, 2018).

Queen Youth Shelter (Brampton)

  • Many fire and safety hazards (Ricky_Visionary, 2019).
  • Extremely disrespectful staff who call the residents names and threaten them (Ricky_Visionary, 2019).
  • Inedible food (Ricky_Visionary, 2019).
  • New rules constantly brought up out of nowhere (Ricky_Visionary, 2019).

Downtown Shelter – Toronto (Toronto)

  • The shelter became so overcrowded that they ran out of beds and started forcing new residents to sleep on the floor, sometimes under tables (Liaᴍ, 2019).

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