April 9, 2019

The City of Toronto announced details about its 2018-19 winter service plan in November. The plan, which aimed to ensure that safe, welcoming places were available for all who needed them during winter weather, was informed by the previous winter’s experience and was supported by recommendations from the City’s Ombudsman. This was the fifth straight year the City increased the number of spaces available at 24-hour respite sites during the winter.

As the City plans for service moving forward, temporary programs for some 24-hour respite sites will transition to new locations. The City is working closely with its community partners to ensure an effective transition for each location.

Housing First, the approach the City has taken in addressing homelessness, focuses on helping people find permanent housing as quickly as possible, and on providing the supports they need to sustain it. The City is actively working with clients and will continue to focus on helping people find permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Details follow on this spring’s transition of Toronto’s 24-hour respite sites:

  • 200 spaces are opening – 100 spaces at 351 Lakeshore Blvd. E. and 100 spaces at 545 Lakeshore Blvd. W. to coincide with 200 spaces closing at the Queen Elizabeth Building.
  • The Queen Elizabeth Building will be returned to Exhibition Place for spring and summer public events. The 24-hour respite site at Queen Elizabeth Building will close on April 15. The capacity will be reduced gradually prior to the site’s closure.
  • During the transition period, 545 Lake Shore Blvd. W. will act as both a temporary shelter and 24-hour respite site. This transition period is expected to last until the opening of the facility at 701 Fleet St. next month.
  • After the 701 Fleet St. site opens in May, the temporary shelter at 545 Lake Shore Blvd. W. will serve 100 women and 50 couples.

Toronto’s 2018-19 winter season began with almost 400 24-hour respite spaces available in November 2018. During the coldest part of the 2019 winter season, the number increased to about 900 spaces. This spring, the City has been able to open 352 new shelter beds and maintain approximately 500 24-hour respite spaces.

The City anticipates making further program changes later in the spring and will provide further information as the changes are confirmed. Staff of Shelter, Support and Housing Administration will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that space is available for people in need who are looking to “come inside” for warmth and support.

-30-

Media contact: Greg Seraganian, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
416-397-4431, Greg.Seraganian@toronto.ca