High housing costs in Toronto, population growth, a steep rise in refugee claimants, and stagnant income supports are all driving up demand for shelter and other homelessness services. The City is now serving 22% more people daily than just one year ago—with 6,500 men, women and children needing help every night, about 5,300 of them in Toronto's shelter system. The rest are sleeping rough, staying in VAW shelters, or in corrections and health care facilities.
What is the City doing? Even with more shelter beds per capita than any other Canadian city (save for Calgary), Toronto is adding more beds and services. Every bit as important, there are additional resources to assist households experiencing homelessness to find and keep permanent housing in the community.
1,000 more beds since before Christmas 2016
- Most are new motel programs to serve refugee claimants.
Plan to open 15 new and replacement shelters over the next few years
- Some are already in the planning stages with new programs and additional beds to open before year end and more scheduled for 2018.
- Staff are researching prospective sites for suitability as shelters.
- A renewed focus in shelter services on providing assistance for people to find and keep permanent housing in the community and access community services to help with life and employment skills.
- Shelters are the stop gap, the real service is the client-focused housing help available in almost every shelter in the city. 4,000 households a year find their new home in a community of their choice with the assistance of shelter staff.
- Extra help for the most vulnerable households in shelters and on the street, through a coordinated access program that provides housing allowances and follow up supports to those with a long history of homelessness.
- Since the start in early 2017, the program has helped more than 550 households to leave shelters and streets behind, moving into homes of their own.
Services for the most vulnerable
- Some people don't want to use shelters. During the coldest months, this can kill them.
- That's why November 15 through April 15 there are warm and safe places for people to go 24 hours a day. There are very few barriers to service and there will be assistance available for those who want to move into permanent housing.
- This year, the City is more than doubling the capacity of these low-barrier services to make sure there is room for anyone needing the service.
How can you help?
- Call 311 if you see someone who needs outreach assistance—911 if it is an emergency.
- Volunteer. In Spring 2018, the City is doing a Street Needs Assessment, a volunteer-driven survey of people experiencing homelessness, and a census of those staying in shelters, hospitals and correctional institutions. There is also a count of those sleeping outside. Please watch for information about how you can volunteer.