On October 22, the City announced details of its 2021-2022 winter services plan to ensure safe and welcoming places for people experiencing homelessness during the coming winter weather.
Toronto has the largest shelter system in Canada, providing space for approximately 6,800 individuals. The system is composed of 75 permanent shelters and 24-hour respite sites, as well as 26 temporary sites that were open to create physical distancing in the shelter system and provide space for people to move indoors from encampments.
The winter plan will enhance services to help protect people during the winter by:
All services identified under the 2021-2022 winter plan have been considered from the lens of providing safer services during the pandemic.
Services will be available until at least April 15, 2022. Need for services will be monitored and adapted as required to respond to changing circumstances.
The City plans to continue to offer 450 spaces that were kept open from the 2020-2021 winter season. These beds, originally planned to close in April 2021, have remained available to provide additional capacity throughout the pandemic.
The City also opened the following sites over the early summer and fall of 2021 to add another 68 beds:
Over the past five years, the City has continuously maintained and added capacity for singles and couples. As a result, the number of beds currently available for individuals or couples experiencing homelessness is the highest in five years.
The City will add additional capacity this winter through the following:
The City will continue to provide spaces at 24-hour respite sites that operate year-round. The sites are operating at reduced capacities to meet physical distancing guidelines and are located at:
24-hour respite sites are guided by Toronto’s 24-Hour Respite Standards and offer single adults and couples, along with their pets, a place to rest, have a meal and access service referrals. 24-hour respite sites prioritize ease of access to safe indoor space, especially to those who are vulnerable and who may not otherwise access shelters.
Shelter programs are guided by Toronto’s Shelter Standards and focus on getting people connected to the services they need to access permanent housing in the community.
Access to 24-hour respite sites and shelters can be made by:
All shelters in Toronto work from a housing first model, with a priority to assist clients to secure permanent housing and provide support to help with the transition.
The City will continue to implement the Council direction to add 1,248 supportive homes in 2021-2022, including over 300 homes that will be available for phased-in occupancy this winter.
Get more details on affordable and supportive housing in Toronto.
Staff continue to explore other opportunities that may arise.
This work is part of the City’s ongoing efforts to help individuals experiencing homeless secure permanent housing. In 2020, over 6,000 people experiencing homelessness moved from the shelter system into permanent housing (see the City’s Shelter System Flow Data for latest data on people moving into permanent housing).
In addition to shelter capacity being added, the City will activate approximately 150 spaces at four Warming Centres when an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) is issued by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, based on information from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Space will be offered at the following:
A TTC bus will provide transportation between the sites from evening until early morning at approximately 2 a.m.
All Warming Centres are pet-friendly.
Throughout the winter, outreach staff will hand out blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter clothing.
When an Extreme Cold Weather Alert is called:
All services identified under the 2021-2022 winter plan have been considered from the lens of providing safer services during the pandemic. This includes the following measures, which will be in place throughout the winter:
The City continues to work as quickly as possible with healthcare partners and the Province to roll out first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to people experiencing homelessness and frontline workers in the homelessness sector. Local hospitals, Ontario Health Teams, Local Health Integration Networks, family doctors and community-based health care service providers are working together to vaccinate people experiencing homelessness staying in shelters and respite sites, accessing drop-ins and living in encampments. Mobile and onsite clinics continue to be offered throughout the shelter system on an ongoing basis.