Street Haven celebrates 45th anniversary in photos

  • October 21, 2010
street havenTORONTO - The face of homelessness is increasingly becoming the face of women, according to Street Haven at the Crossroads, a non-profit agency serving homeless women in Toronto.

For its 45th anniversary, Street Haven will draw attention to this as it presents its “Women and Homelessness” exhibit on Oct. 28 at the City of Toronto Archives. The exhibition has been curated and designed by Master of Museum Studies graduate students Cynthia Roberts and Vanessa Fleet, and University of Toronto professor Jennifer Carter.

The exhibit will feature photos and information on the agency's program over the years as well as its founder, Peggy Ann Walpole. The exhibit on Walpole will be a long-term exhibit at the archives.

Street Haven provides meals and shelter for homeless women and women at risk of being homeless. The agency receives some funding from ShareLife, the archdiocese of Toronto's charitable fundraising arm.

Leslie Venturino, Street Havens' resource development manager, said the agency has been helping about 1,000 women each year who are homeless or under-housed.

Venturino said mental health issues, addictions and trauma from abuse has seen more adult women “realizing the outcomes of the violence and trauma they've experienced over a lifetime,” resulting in them being forced onto the streets. She said these also include many women who are staying at a shelter or with a friend due to violence in their homes. Venturino said there are also a number of elderly women who have lost their housing.

More women are becoming homeless because of a lack of affordable housing and fewer services for individuals with mental health issues, she added.

Street Haven began with Walpole, a nurse at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital emergency room, who in her work met many women with severe addictions as well as women who were abused. In 1965, Walpole rented the beverage room of the old skid-row Atlanta Hotel. It became a 24-hour drop-in centre for women who could come by for a coffee, sandwich and a chat. It developed into a crisis overnight shelter.

Walpole received many accolades for her work, including a papal commendation and the Order of Canada.

For information on Street Haven, see

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