Cold weather alert called



Toronto issued an extreme cold weather alert Sunday morning, and has lined up extra support services to help get homeless people off the streets, Toronto Housing said.

The temperature was around -4 C at the time of the alert, but it is predicted to fall to -16 Sunday night, according to Environment Canada. The city agency calls an alert when Environment Canada predicts the temperature will fall below -15 C without considering the wind chill.

During an alert, street workers try to convince the homeless to come inside and provide transportation to shelters.

More than 100 agencies are warned about the alert and add an extra 171 shelter spaces. Shelters relax service restrictions and drop-ins may give homeless people TTC tokens to get to shelters.

Toronto Housing said there were:

* Four alerts called covering seven days in 2009-10.
* Twelve alerts called covering 26 days in 2008-09.
* Ten alerts covering 13 days in 2007-08.
* Eight alerts covering 18 days in 2007-08.

There have been two previous alerts in January.

The alert is in effect until further notice.

Homeless people can get an emergency shelter bed by calling 311 or 1-877-338-3398 (toll free within the Greater Toronto Area).

Other Toronto residents can call 311 if they see someone they feel needs street outreach assistance.