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 will continue current response efforts, including services at temporary shelter sites to support physical distancing measures 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.
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. Physical distancing sites, procured in response to COVID-19, will remain active until at least December 31, 2021. An operational plan for transition of these temporary hotel response sites is in development, and is dependent on a number of factors. The City is exploring the extension of leases until at least April 2022, to mitigate the need for transitions during the winter. This planning work is still in its early stages and more details will be shared in the Shelter Infrastructure Plan to Council in the fall. The City anticipates having more information and details to discuss more fully with stakeholders and affected communities this fall. Updates will be provided on this web page and to Council as more information is available.
Members of the public are invited to view information on additional community engagement at 20 Milner Business Court, 92 Peter St., 45 The Esplanade, 556 Sherbourne St., 808 Mount Pleasant Rd. and 65 Dundas St. E.
Prior to the pandemic, SSHA operated a number of hotel locations, primarily serving families and refugees, the majority of which are now part of the COVID-19 response. These sites were selected through a request for proposal (RFP) and they may be available until the RFP end date in 2023 and 2024. The City is developing a plan that will assess the future role of these sites in our shelter system.
Below is information related to locations and community engagement.
The new temporary locations are located across the city in 13 different wards.
View a map of map of shelter system by ward (updated May 2021).
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.
3-1-1 or 416-338-0889 (TTY)
Report concerns about:
To request help for homeless individuals who need support.
Telephone support to individuals seeking access to emergency shelter.
416-808-2222 or 416-467-0493 (TTY)
Report crimes where no person is in immediate danger (i.e. theft, vandalism, fraud).
In an emergency, always call 9-1-1 (fires, crimes in progress, medical emergencies requiring an ambulance).