TORONTO (CUP) -- The University of Toronto should consider and implement strategies for assisting the cityıs homeless, particularly in the coming cold months, one of the universityıs top governing boards says.
A motion urging the university to look into the matter was passed last Tuesday by the University Affairs Board in a move that was applauded by campus activists, who have been calling on the university to respond to Torontoıs homeless crisis.
³We have a whole range of expertise we can bring to this complicated issue,² said Margaret Hancock, warden of U of Tıs Hart House.
³People who are needing shelters these days are in worse shape than before. Itıs not just a matter of providing a roof over their heads and a cup of coffee anymore,² she added.
Hancock pointed to a proposed long-term assistance plan that will address health, social, and funding issues alongside the more immediate band-aid solutions of shelter.
³Itıs a good first step,² said Holly Baines, vice-president of the schoolıs Graduate Studentsı Union. ³Itıs a really simple undertaking.²
The fact that the vote was passed unanimously indicates the immediacy of the crisis in the city, says Chris Ramsaroop, president of U of Tıs Studentsı Administrative Council.
³Awareness has increased around the issue, and the university has a responsibility to respond to that awareness,² Ramsaroop said.
³We have got to get off this idea that weıre in an ivory tower and what happens on campus doesnıt affect us because first and foremost there are students who are homeless,² he said, adding he hopes the university will have relief measures in place by December.
The vote comes on the heels of several recent commitments to tackle the problem of homelessness in Toronto.
Prompted by the efforts of a local coalition group, the City of Toronto recently declared homelessness a national disaster, a move that was matched by the cities of Ottawa and Napean, Ontario shortly after.
Concern for the cityıs homeless -- estimated at between 50,000 and 100,000 -- has also surfaced at the U of T.
Hancock says she has already received a slew of phone calls from students, faculty and graduates interested in helping with the universityıs line of action on the issue.