The COVID-19 pandemic required Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) to continuously adapt program delivery to support the wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness. As a result, over the past two years, the shelter system has undergone significant transformation to respond to the unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19.
During the pandemic, the City opened temporary emergency shelter sites to meet the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines for physical distancing in congregate living settings and provide safe indoor space for people living outdoors. As of May 2022, there were 25 temporary shelter sites operating, providing safe shelter to 3,200 people each night. Given that these temporary spaces currently account for approximately 40% of the total shelter system capacity, a sudden reversal of these spaces is not recommended as it would cause significant disruption to the vital services delivered through the sites and to those who rely on them.
On April 6, 2022, City Council approved SSHA’s COVID-19 Transition and Relocation Plan, which provided authority to extend operations at most temporary shelters to April 2023 to support a gradual, phased approach to transition over the next 24 months.
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 a security program in place.
The City typically engages the community in advance of opening a new shelter in an effort to provide information about the program and support the success of the new service in the community. This was not possible for many of 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.
City Council has previously delegated authority to City staff to site and secure shelters in locations that meet City zoning by-laws, without public consultation, and to respond to urgent or anticipated needs to relocate shelter or respite sites. City Council also delegated authority to staff to site temporary shelters through Municipal Code Chapter 59, Emergency Management as a result of the pandemic.
Even though the City is not required to seek community input or permission on the location of new shelter sites, the City remains committed to working with the community to address any questions or concerns regarding the temporary shelter sites. See the “Who to Call” tab for more information.
Additional information can also be found regarding community engagement at the following shelters:
We appreciate that the community is very interested in these sites and have questions and concerns. Representatives from the City and community partners who operate and engage with the community are available to respond to these questions and concerns. However, please note that communications should be respectful. The City of Toronto is an inclusive public organization. Racist or other forms of prejudicial, derogatory, or discriminatory comments and questions, including name calling, will not be tolerated.
3-1-1 or 416-338-0889 (TTY)
To request help for homeless individuals who need support.
Report concerns about:
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).