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 was conducted in accordance with public health guidelines in April 2021.

SSHA heard from nearly 3000 people experiencing homelessness and will compare results to previous years while engaging with key stakeholders.

The surveys were 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 SNA would not be possible without the tremendous support of all of the staff and agencies who have partnered with the City of Toronto to make it happen. This has been acknowledged in video messages by Mayor John Tory, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and the General Manager of Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, Mary-Anne Bedard.


The main objectives of a Streets Needs Assessment are to:

  • 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 – Completed
  • Indoor and outdoor count: April 21 – Completed
  • Outdoor survey: April 27 – Completed
  • Final full report published in September 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 risks associated with implementation. 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.

COVID-19 Guidance: Homelessness Services & Congregate Living Settings

Shelter Directive on use of Medical Masks

Use of PPE in Homelessness Services Settings

Covid-19 Screening Tool for Homelessness Services Settings 

The following training materials and resources are intended to support SSHA and partner agency staff to conduct the SNA.

Indoor Study: Surveys being conducted by staff in City-administered shelters and motels/hotels (including COVID-19 response sites and the recovery site), 24-respite sites (including 24-hr women’s drop-ins and winter services in operation) and provincially administered Violence Against Women shelters and correctional facilities.

Outdoor Study: Count and survey being conducted by Streets to Homes and partner outreach agencies with people staying outdoors.

SNA 101

  • SNA 101 Training Module: This module is mandatory for all those helping implement the SNA. It covers background and context of the SNA, organizational structure and roles and responsibilities of those involved.

Indoor Study Training

These modules are mandatory for all individuals helping to implement the Indoor Study:

Additional resources:

Outdoor Study Training

These modules are mandatory for all outreach staff helping to implement the Outdoor Study:

Additional resources:

Indigenous Cultural Safety Training

Training modules developed by the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC) to support a culturally safe SNA for Indigenous people experiencing homelessness. These modules are required for all individuals involved in implementing the SNA.

Additional Training Resources:

The following videos are recommended for all those involved in implementing the SNA. They focus on strategies for engaging people experiencing homelessness to support an inclusive SNA.

Additional Print Resources:

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