In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto opened a number of temporary shelter sites to provide additional space for physical distancing and people to move indoors from encampments.

There are currently 26 temporary COVID-19 shelter and 24-hour respite sites operating.

All locations are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provide wrap-around support for clients, including:

  • Meals and laundry
  • Access to harm reduction and mental and physical health supports
  • Counsellors/Case Managers who work with clients to develop permanent housing plans
  • Assessments and referrals to other community services, as needed

On-site staff are available to respond to concerns and all locations have a security program in place.

Due to the urgency of the pandemic, staff focused on finding spaces that were ready for operations with minimal retrofits required. Hotels were considered optimal solutions as they provided the furniture, ability to physical distance, and were able to provide cleaning services, as well as catering services, if required.

Currently, there are 26 temporary COVID-19 shelter sites, 23 of which are in hotels or motels. The sites are located across the city in 13 different wards. View a map of the City’s shelter and 24-hour respite sites, including the temporary COVID-19 response sites.

Community Engagement

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 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 delegated authority to staff to site temporary shelters through Municipal Code Chapter 59, Emergency Management as a result of the pandemic. This is in addition to authorities delegated in 2017 that allow staff to site locations that meet zoning bylaws, prior to engaging with the community.

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:

The City is developing a phased transition and relocation plan out of current temporary COVID-19 sites that considers the needs of service users and ensures adequate shelter capacity is maintained.

Public health guidance from the Province of Ontario regarding COVID-19 for congregate living settings has not changed. The timing of this transition will be based on any future changes to public health guidance, ongoing assessment of shelter demand and availability of supportive housing opportunities.

Demand for shelter is difficult to predict and is impacted by many forces beyond the control of the City, including the re-opening of the border and potential increased demand for shelter from refugee claimants.

The plan will continue to evolve over the coming months based on situational updates and monitoring of available data, and will be implemented over the next 12 months. Initial details of the plan were shared in a report to City Council in November 2022.

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.

311

3-1-1 or 416-338-0889 (TTY)

To request help for homeless individuals who need support.

Report concerns about:

Central Intake

416-397-5637

Telephone support to individuals seeking access to emergency shelter.

Police Non-Emergency

416-808-2222  or 416-467-0493 (TTY)

Report crimes where no person is in immediate danger (i.e. theft, vandalism, fraud).

9-1-1

In an emergency, always call 9-1-1 (fires, crimes in progress, medical emergencies requiring an ambulance).