The Streets Needs Assessment is a City-wide point-in-time count and survey of people experiencing homelessness in Toronto led by the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration in collaboration with community partners in the homelessness and allied sectors.

The fifth Streets Needs Assessment will be conducted in accordance with public health guidelines in April 2021. It was to be administered in March 2020, however it was postponed was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the City’s response.

SSHA wants to hear from more than 3,000 people experiencing homelessness and will compare results to previous years while engaging with key stakeholders.

The surveys will be conducted by outreach and agency staff, leveraging their skills and expertise in engaging with this community, as well as building sector capacity to report data and profile the needs of people experiencing homelessness in Toronto.

The main objectives of the Streets Needs Assessment are:

  • determine the scope and profile of people experiencing homelessness
  • give people a voice in identifying their what supports and services they need to end their homelessness
  • provide critically important data used to improve services and programs for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto

The assessment includes people who are staying:

  • outdoors, including encampments
  • in City-administered shelters and motel/hotels (including Covid-19 response sites and the recovery site)
  • in City-administered 24-hour respite sites (including 24-hour women’s drop-ins and winter services in operation)
  • in provincially administered Violence Against Women shelters, health and treatment and correctional facilities

It does not include people who are experiencing hidden homelessness, such as people who are temporarily staying with others.

The 2021 results will inform SSHA’s next five-year service plan as well as policy and program development. Previous Streets Needs Assessment results have helped to improve program and service delivery, such as the development of an Indigenous funding stream with a 20% allocation of grants funding, the creation of an LGBTQ2S youth shelter, and increased resources for shelter programming for seniors.

  • Indoor survey: April 19-23
  • Indoor and outdoor count: April 21
  • Outdoor survey: April 27
  • Final full report published in fall 2021

As a condition of federal Reaching Home funding, the City must conduct a survey between March 1 and April 30, 2021.

The City made a series of adaptations to the Streets Needs Assessment to reduce the risk of implementing it. The approach ensures all public health measures and guidelines can be followed and the project can be delivered safely for everyone involved.

Adaptations include:

  • Surveys led by existing shelter and outreach staff (no volunteers visiting shelters)
  • Staff adhering to appropriate public health measures, including maintaining physical distancing and using appropriate PPE
  • Training delivered online instead of in-person
  • Surveys administered electronically (no paper surveys)

These modifications include the recommended methodology prescribed by the federal government for communities across Canada.

The City conducted Street Needs Assessments in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2018. Read those reports.