This dashboard provides data about the number of people experiencing homelessness and who is entering and leaving the shelter system each month. This information helps the City and our community partners measure progress towards the vision of ensuring homelessness in Toronto is rare, brief, and non-recurring.

The number of people defined as actively experiencing homelessness includes everyone who has used shelter services at least one time in the past three months and was not recorded as exiting to permanent housing.

This data provide a more comprehensive picture of people using the shelter system than traditional measures, such as the Daily Shelter Occupancy Reports, which focus on nightly occupancy and capacity.

Individuals’ experiences of homelessness are fluid. People enter and exit the shelter system each day, and often move between types of temporary accommodations. As such, the number of people included in Shelter System Flow data will be greater than those in need of emergency shelter on any given night.

This data is available back to January 2018, and is updated on a monthly schedule. It can be found on our Open Data website.

Data Source & Frequency

The data for the Shelter System Flow dashboards are captured through an information management system used to operate shelters, 24-hour respite sites, and other allied services including warming centres that are funded by the City of Toronto. The data include people who have used one of those services in the past three months.

Over time, the data will be expanded to include more people, such as people sleeping outdoors and people using overnight homelessness services that are not funded by the City of Toronto, to provide more comprehensive picture of all people experiencing homelessness in Toronto. Based on the most recent Street Needs Assessment, we estimate that approximately 18 per cent of people experiencing absolute homelessness in Toronto are not currently reflected in this data.

Data for each month will be published on the 15th day of following month and will also be available on the Open Data portal. The data is generated on the last day of each month, and retroactively considers all people who accessed overnight shelter services in the past three months.

Key Data

The key data included in the dashboards are described below.

People who are entering the shelter system (Inflow):

  • Newly Identified: People who entered the shelter system for the first time.
  • Returned from Permanent Housing: People who previously used the shelter system, then moved to permanent housing, and have now returned.
  • Returned to Shelter: People who were previously using the shelter system, then did not use the system for 3 months or longer, and have now returned. Some other communities may call this indicator “Returned from Inactive”

People who are leaving the shelter system (Outflow):

  • Moved to Permanent Housing: People who were using the shelter system and have moved to permanent housing.
  • Became Inactive: people who last accessed shelter services three months ago. That is, they did not use shelter services in the past three months, including the reporting month.

People actively homeless in the last three months:

People who have used shelter services at least one time in the past three months, and have not moved to permanent housing.

Sub-population data

The data can be filtered by sub-populations including: Chronically Homeless, Families, Single Adult, Unaccompanied Youth, Refugees and Indigenous. More information about these sub- populations is available through Open Data portal.

  • Chronic (refers to chronic homelessness): People who meet one of the two following criteria, as per the federal definition of chronic homelessness. The person has recorded a minimum of 180 overnight stay in the past year (365 days); or the person has recurrent overnight stays over the past three years with a cumulative duration of at least 546 nights
  • “Newly identified” as chronically homeless refers to people who became chronically homeless in the reporting month

Other Demographic data

Demographic information currently available in the data includes age and gender. Over time, the demographic information will be expanded to include racial identity and veteran status.

Shelter System Flow data provides additional information to understand the scope and complexity of homelessness in Toronto. The definitions used in this data are consistent with the best practices of establishing a By Name List as part of a Coordinated Access system, which are federal and provincial requirements. This approach also supports Toronto’s participation in the Built for Zero campaign.

This data reflects who is entering and leaving the City of Toronto shelter system each month, including the number of unique people who have used the shelter system at least one time in the past three months, have not been discharged to permanent housing and are considered to be actively experiencing homelessness.

As people enter and exit the homelessness system every day, the number of people included in the shelter flow dashboard over time will be greater than those experiencing homelessness at any given point in time. For example, while the average nightly occupancy in 2023 was 9,010 clients, close to 22,000 different people used the shelter system in 2023.

People’s experiences of homelessness are fluid, and they may move between different types of accommodation, including sleeping outdoors, staying with friends and family or other temporary accommodation. The definition of actively homeless is someone who has stayed in the shelter system in the past three months, although they may not be in need of shelter on any given night.

Using the Shelter System Flow Data

  • To view summary data for the current reporting month, go to the Monthly Snapshot dashboard.
  • To view data prior to the current reporting month, and to filter data by sub- populations:
    • Go to Historical Trends dashboard.
    • Click on the arrow to the right of the text box and select from the drop down menu to filter data by sub-populations and time periods.
    • Only one sub-population can be selected at a time as this data are not mutually exclusive.
    • Multiple months may be selected to view historical data.