As part of the City’s response to COVID-19, the City of Toronto has opened more than 25 temporary response sites to provide additional space for physical distancing and for people to move indoors from encampments, providing up to 3,000 spaces in temporary shelters and hotel programs.
All locations are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provide wrap-around support for clients, including:
On-site staff are available to respond to concerns and all locations have security guards and cameras.
The temporary facilities have been set up to meet Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines for physical distancing in congregate living settings, which include the requirement to maintain 2 metres of physical distancing between beds, as well as additional space for people to move indoors from encampments. The City is planning to continue current response efforts, including services at temporary shelter sites to support physical distancing measures until the end of 2021 as we continue to follow the guidance of the City’s Medical Officer of Health and Provincial guidelines related to COVID-19 for congregate living settings. Leases, where required, will be extended until the end of the year or replacement sites secured where an extension cannot be secured.
Although shelter residents and staff are priority groups to receive vaccinations to COVID-19 and many have already been vaccinated, SSHA continues to follow current public health guidance regarding physical distancing and all shelter operations. The Interim Shelter Recovery Strategy approved by Council and developed based on advice provided by stakeholders and community partners, also identified the importance of increased investment in housing and supports to decrease the volume and duration of the need for emergency shelter as a key part of the City’s recovery strategy. The length of time some sites will be open may be impacted by the implementation of the City’s 24-month housing response plan, which aims to create 3,000 new housing opportunities, including 2,000 with supports attached to meet the needs of vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Currently, it is known that the sites will remain active until at least December 31, 2021. Updates about the plans around temporary facilities will be provided on this web page and to Council as more information is available.
Below is information related to locations and community engagement. Members of the public are invited to view information on additional community engagement at 45 The Esplanade, 556 Sherbourne Street, 808 Mount Pleasant Road and 65 Dundas Street East.
The new temporary locations are located across the city in 13 different wards.
In 2017, City Council authorized staff to site new shelters in locations that meet zoning bylaws, prior to engaging with the community. This was done to help speed up and depoliticize the shelter development process and is consistent with a human rights-based approach to housing and related services for vulnerable residents. Additional authority was delegated under Municipal Code Chapter 59, Emergency Management as a result of the pandemic.
The City typically engages the community in advance of opening a new shelter in an effort to provide information about the program and support its successful integration into the community. This was not possible for the temporary sites due to the speed at which the City had to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City had to work quickly to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in shelters and the community.
The City remains committed to working with the community to address any questions or concerns regarding the new temporary shelter sites. See the “Who to Call” tab for more information.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has implemented a number of measures to protect people across the shelter system, including those staying at the new temporary sites. This includes:
For a full list of COVID-19 measures implemented to enhance health safety in shelters, visit COVID-19: Changes to City Services.
During COVID-19, temporary shelter and respite sites may not have space to accommodate walk-in referrals. Calling Central Intake in advance is recommended to minimize unnecessary travel in keeping with physical distancing guidelines provided by Toronto Public Health.
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