Address: 3 Park Home Ave.
Group service: Refugee families and individuals
Number of beds: 600-700 beds
Potential Opening Date: September 1, 2022
The City of Toronto is looking to enter into an agreement to use 3 Park Home Ave. to meet the current need for temporary accommodations for refugees and refugee claimants in Toronto.
The City hosted online/telephone information sessions to share information about the proposed program and answer community questions. Residents were welcomed to email their questions in advance of the information sessions or to ask them at the meetings.
Thank you to everyone who participated in and watched the 3 Park Home Ave. information sessions on Monday, July 18, 2022 and Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
A proposal was presented to Toronto City Council in July to use 3 Park Home Ave. to meet the current need for temporary accommodations for refugees and refugee claimants.
The City has seen a steady increase in refugees seeking temporary accommodations since September 2021, primarily driven by the border reopening and easing of international travel restrictions. In the first half of 2022, an average of 55 new refugees per week have been accessing Toronto’s shelter system and there are currently 1,700 refugee clients in shelters.
The City put out a request for information to hotel providers to provide temporary emergency shelter services. This location was selected following a comprehensive assessment to ensure it could meet program needs and was close to transit and services. As a hotel, 3 Park Home was also selected as an optimal solution as it requires minimal retrofits to be operationalized quickly, and provides furniture, individual rooms and bathrooms, cleaning services and catering for shelter residents. Based on similar programs, the expected length of stay is between three and six months.
Currently, Toronto’s shelter system serves refugees from all over the world. Toronto continues to provide a safe haven for refugees and refugee claimants looking to build new lives for themselves and their families. Reasons for why people seek refugee status in Canada vary. Individuals may have fled their home countries, or were forced to flee, due to armed conflicts, political unrest, or persecution due to race, religion or political opinion.
The proposed program at 3 Park Home will provide safe shelter, as well as wrap-around supports aimed at helping refugees and refugee claimants find and secure permanent housing and build connection in the community.
The supports provided will be based on individual needs, and will include help with the settlement process and case coordination with legal services, support to find permanent housing, employment and education support, and referrals to healthcare and other community services. Recreation activities will also be offered on-site to engage residents and children.
The City has made contact with the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board to help support the children and youth at the site to smoothly transition into schools and community.
The City is committed to engaging the community to support the program’s success – both for the refugee families who will be staying there and the surrounding community. The City is planning a number of initiatives prior to opening this site to ensure community members are kept informed of the planned services. The City has hired Jane Farrow (Department of Words & Deeds Inc.) to lead a community engagement process for this site in alignment with the City Council-approved engagement process for new shelters.
To support a smooth transition, community engagement has begun prior to the service opening and will continue after it opens. This includes community meetings and a Community Liaison Committee (if there is community interest) with residents’ associations, businesses and local community organizations to address questions, share information and discuss and solve community concerns together.
The shelter at 3 Park Home is planned to remain dedicated to refugees, and not to convert this site into a shelter for single individuals experiencing homelessness in the future. Demand for temporary accommodation from refugees and refugee claimants has increased by more than 1,100 people over the last nine months and current trends indicate that demand is unlikely to decrease. The program will help support new arrivals and also free up space in the City’s base shelter system by allowing refugees claimants currently in shelters to move to this new site.
The cost of the bulk room accommodations agreement, consisting of gross rent expenses and food expenses, totals $79.5M over the five-year term. Funding of $60.69 million is included in SSHA’s approved operating budget for 2022 to provide accommodations across the City for the refugee sector. The City will work with the operator (once selected) to determine exact costs for the operations at this site.
The City will also be working with the landlord to prepare food for this site. The service provider will work closely with the landlord’s staff to determine culturally appropriate meals, snacks and beverages suitable for the clientele on a weekly basis with the mutual understanding that the landlord will make best efforts to recognize the food preferences of refugees and refugee claimants. There will be a contractual standard for nutritious meals to be served that meets Toronto Shelter Standards and the Canada Food Guide.
Staff are also exploring greater flexibility in food choices both within and outside 3 Park Home to create greater opportunities for culturally appropriate meals and to support local business.
Although the City is administrating this program, the expectation is that the Federal government will cover the full cost of this program.