Muslims Offer ‘Shelter Bus’ for Toronto Homeless

Being on the street is not easy especially as Toronto remains under extreme cold weather alert with snowfall blanketing the city.

Though shelters are doing their best, they are often overcrowded. There are about 9,200 homeless people living in Toronto.

According to Toronto Public Health (TPH), close to 100 people struggling with homelessness died in Toronto in 2017, and 92 homeless people died in 2018.

This year according to reports, 2.2 homeless people on average die per week.

As the city continues to grapple with this crisis, a local charity and a Muslim youth group have come together to help people sleeping outside.

Muslims Offer ‘Shelter Bus’ for Toronto Homeless - About Islam

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada and faith-based nonprofit Humanity First Canada cooperated to purchase a bus and repurpose it into a mobile shelter.

Helping Homeless

The Muslim volunteers are driving through the streets of downtown Toronto to offer the city’s homeless population a refuge from the brutal winter weather, To Times reported.

“The vehicle will operate in the Greater Toronto Area during the cold winter months. During off-periods it will be used for training and off-site fundraising events,” explains Naeem Farooqi on Linked In. Farooqi is Director of Fundraising and Shelter Bus for Humanity First.

The shelter bus is a repurposed coach bus optimized to provide a safe, comfortable place to sleep overnight.

Muslims Offer ‘Shelter Bus’ for Toronto Homeless - About Islam
Naeem Farooqi, the Shelter Bus project manager, said the bus has served more than 1,000 people in December 2019. Courtesy photo

It has 20 beds, a kitchenette, lounge space, secure storage, bathrooms, and wifi.

The bus will operate overnight from 8 pm to 8 am with a volunteer driver and caretakers. Those volunteers will provide the homeless with survival kits.

Success

Kicked off in December 2019, the bus has served over 1000, reaching about 30 to 50 people on a typical day.

Organizers say the bus appears to be the first of its kind in the country.

In London, an organization called Buses4Homeless converts decommissioned buses into community centers for people experiencing homelessness.

Around Australia, a group called SleepBus also offers similar overnight services, as well as Los Angeles’ hygiene buses which provide showers and toilets on wheels.