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Torontonians help to pay for hotel rooms for homeless amid extreme cold
Published Tuesday, January 2, 2018 2:50PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, January 2, 2018 8:16PM EST
An entrepreneur who footed the bill for hotel rooms for 18 homeless people who had no place to go amid the frigid cold on New Year’s Eve says the city has reached out to offer assistance transitioning the people to more permanent housing and getting them some needed medical assistance.
Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih put up an estimated $3,000 to pay for hotel rooms for the group after being contacted by a member of the public, Jennifer Evans, who had begun collecting money to pay for hotel rooms for homeless Torontonians.
So far, Fakih has paid for hotel rooms for the 18 people on both Sunday and Monday nights in order to make sure that they aren’t out in the cold amid record-breaking temperatures.
Fakih, of course, is just one of dozens of Torontonians doing their part, as Evans has indicated that 165 hotel rooms have so far been pledged as part of the effort.
“I am sure city staff are doing their best but things happen. In my company we miss a step or two sometimes and we will fix it immediately. The city reached out today to us to say can we transition these people? Can we look after them and give them the medical assistance they need,” Fakih told CP24 on Tuesday. “We have a pregnant woman there, we have someone who is having trouble with frost bite and we need some medical assistance immediately to him,”
Evans began a campaign to get members of the public to pledge hotel rooms for the homeless after hearing about volunteers at a supervised injection site in Moss Park who were struggling to find shelter beds for some of their patrons.
Fakih said that putting up thousands of dollars to support the cause was an easy decision to make when he learned about what Evans was doing.
He said that his staff were also quick to help with logistics and in preparing and delivering food for the group.
“We don’t feel these are strangers, we feel they are part of the community and it is on us to help them,” he said. “That is what Toronto is all about, that is what Canada is all about.”
The city’s shelter system was at 94 per cent occupancy on Monday night, thought it was at 98 per cent occupancy in shelters reserved for women and 97 per cent occupancy in shelters reserved for youths. Though the city has added 110 additional beds by opening a 24/7 winter respite at the Better Living Centre, communication issues over the weekend did lead to some people being turned away from that facility.
Fakih told CP24 that it is his hope that people continue to step up to fill any gaps that may exist, especially with the bitter cold expected to continue.
“What happened during New Year’s Eve could happen again. I want to really tell the business community that we really should get together and work together because definitely we could all do more,” he said.