Backgrounder: City of Toronto’s 2018-19 winter plan for people experiencing homelessness
December 24, 2018
The City of Toronto announced details about the 2018-19 winter service plan in November. The plan, which aims to ensure that safe and welcoming places are available for all who need them during winter weather, is informed by last winter’s experience and supported by recommendations from the City’s Ombudsman.
In addition to the existing 24-hour respite site locations, the City is opening three new services that will use recently purchased prefabricated structures to be located in the east, central and west parts of the city. Like the existing sites, the new sites will offer single adults and couples, along with their pets, easy access to warm places to rest and to obtain meals and service referrals.
The site at 69 Fraser Ave. opened on December 22, 2018. The sites at 701 Fleet St. and 545 Lake Shore Blvd. E. are under development and will be available starting in the first part of 2019.
This is the fifth straight year the City has increased the number of spaces available at 24-hour respite sites. Timeline for increased 24-hour respite sites:
- 2014 – one site
- 2015 – two sites
- 2016 – three sites
- November 2017 – five sites
- January 2019 – nine sites
Locations of the new 24-hour respite sites:
- 69 Fraser Ave. (opened December 22, 2018)
- 351 Lake Shore Blvd. E. (expected to be open by the end of February 2019)
- 701 Fleet St. (expected to be open in April 2019)
Detailed information about the prefabricated structures is available at https://www.toronto.ca/home/media-room/backgrounders-other-resources/temporary-respite-structures-for-24-hour-services/
City staff have made improvements over the past nine months that will result in better service at respite sites and shelters, quicker access to services and tighter management of both routine and unexpected events that have an impact on the shelter and respite system. The improvements include:
- 24-hour respite site standards were developed in consultation with operators and clients, designed to uphold the health, safety and comfort of all service users and staff of 24-hour respite sites. The standards can be found at https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/community-partners/24-hour-respite-site-operators/24-hour-respite-site-standards/
- There is a full-time community and client engagement co-ordinator in each 24-hour respite site to improve relations with the local community and improve client experiences at the sites.
- An expanded Central Intake staff complement equipped with appropriate technology will be able to answer calls more efficiently, resulting in shorter wait times and more streamlined access to services.
- A 24/7 Duty Manager’s Office will provide real-time oversight and operational assistance to community-based and staff providers of services.
Access to 24-hour respite sites and shelters is through 311, in-person at the Assessment and Referral Centre at 129 Peter St., and by direct contact with the service provider. Information about City-funded homelessness services is available at http://www.toronto.ca/homelesshelp.
24-hour respite sites for winter 2018-19
Below is a list of 11 respite sites in Toronto, with addresses and their capacities:
- 323 Dundas St. E., operated by Margaret’s, capacity of 50
- 25 Augusta Ave., operated by St. Felix Centre, capacity of 50
- 354 George St., operated by Homes First, capacity of 105
- 705 Progress Ave., Unit 29, operated by Warden Woods, capacity of 49
- 21 Park Rd., operated by Margaret’s, capacity of 30
- 201 Cowan Ave., operated by Dixon Hall, capacity of 21
- 545 Lake Shore Blvd. E., operated by Fred Victor, capacity of 200 (this location will become a shelter in January, retaining 100 contingency respite spaces)
- Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place, operated by Homes First, capacity of 200 (Service started November 15, 2018 and will continue until January 31, 2019, as other services are opened. Closure will be dependent on occupancy pressures.)
- 69 Fraser Ave. (part of the parking lot behind Lamport Stadium), operated by St. Felix, capacity of 100
- 351 Lake Shore Blvd. E., operated by Dixon Hall (expected opening February 2019), capacity of 100
- 701 Fleet St., operated by Fred Victor (expected opening April 2019), capacity of 80
The City’s efforts, building on work already underway to respond to homelessness, include the following:
- the creation of 1,000 new shelter beds by 2020 – approximately 300 are confirmed for 2019
- the addition of more than 2,400 shelter/motel beds over the past two years in response to increased demand
- the addition of two 24-hour women’s drop-ins opened to better address the needs of women experiencing homelessness
- the opening of YMCA Sprott House in 2016, and Egale Centre scheduled to open in 2019 to better address the needs of LGBTQ2 people experiencing homelessness
- the development of a new shelter program at 3306 Kingston Road, and the work being done through the George Street Revitalization project to better address the needs of seniors
- the Meeting in the Middle Indigenous Engagement Strategy and Action Plan developed with Indigenous community partners to identify actions to meaningfully address Indigenous homelessness in Toronto
- the implementation and evaluation of the Eviction Prevention in the Community (EPIC) pilot to support tenants facing imminent risk of eviction. In its first year, the pilot prevented the eviction of more than 200 households (over 400 individuals)
- the provision of a housing allowance to about 2,000 formerly homeless households to assist them with moving costs and housing affordability
- the implementation of the provincial Home for Good program with $90 million in funding over three years to create housing with supports for 2,000 people experiencing homelessness, and
- the move of more than 2,000 people experiencing chronic homelessness from shelters and the streets into housing (since 2016) through the City’s Housing First approach.
Media contact: Greg Seraganian, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, 416-397-4431, Greg.Seraganian@toronto.ca.