City of Toronto  
HomeContact UsHow Do I...?Advanced search
Living in TorontoDoing businessVisiting TorontoAccessing City Hall
Accessing City Hall
Meeting Schedules
  City of Toronto Council and Committees
  All Council and Committee documents are available from the City of Toronto Clerk's office. Please e-mail


Declaration of Homelessness as a National Disaster -

Status Report on Hostel Services for Singles

The Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee recommends:

(i)that the Provincial and Federal Governments be requested to declare homelessness a national disaster requiring emergency humanitarian relief and be urged to immediately develop and implement a National Homelessness Relief and Prevention Strategy using disaster relief funds, both to provide the homeless with immediate health protection and housing and to prevent further homelessness; and

 (ii)the adoption of the following report (September 22, 1998) from the Commissioner of Community and Neighbourhood Services, subject to:

 (a)amending Recommendation No. (2) to provide that the progress report requested be submitted directly to Council for consideration at its meeting on October 28, 1998; and

 (b)amending Recommendation No. (3) to read as follows:

 "(3)the Chair of the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee be requested to convene an early meeting with Mr. Jack Carroll, MPP, Chair of the Provincial Task Force on the Homeless, and seek assistance in responding to this urgent situation; and further that Councillor Jack Layton, Chair of the Council Strategy Committee for People Without Homes be invited to attend such meeting; and":


 This report describes the current trends and demands placed on hostel services for single men, women and youth. It also makes a forecast about the growing needs we face this coming winter; the initiatives underway to deal with these needs; and the service gap that still needs to be addressed.

 Funding Sources, Financial Implications and Impact Statement:

 Hostel services are caseload driven. Funds have been included in the preliminary 1999 budget request for the service initiatives described.


 It is recommended that:

(1)the Commissioner of Corporate Services be requested to designate the necessary staff to work with Hostel Services on acquiring appropriate space to accommodate an additional 320 to 460 homeless singles;

(2)a progress report be submitted to the next meeting of the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee on November 5, 1998, with contingency plans for the coming winter;

 (3)the Chair of the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee be requested to convene an early meeting with Mr. Jack Carroll, MPP, Chair of the Provincial Task Force on the Homeless, and seek assistance in responding to this urgent situation; and

 (4)the appropriate City officials be authorized to take the necessary actions to give effect thereto.

 Council Reference/Background/History:

 Each year, at about this time, the Department reports on the status of hostel services available to the homeless for the coming winter.

 We anticipate that a much broader report on the scope of the problem and the major solutions needed will be submitted by the Mayor's Homelessness Action Task Force in about three months.

 Comments and/or Discussion and/or Justification:

 Today's report is not a good news report. The number of single men, women and youth needing shelter continues to grow, and the system is not keeping pace. Our forecast at this time is that another 320 to 460 beds will likely be needed this winter above the known levels of service available.

 The known levels of service described in Appendix "B" show a total capacity of 2,541 beds this winter. This is actually 137 beds fewer than were available last winter. This loss of beds is part of the problem.

 More importantly, we estimate that needs will increase from between 11 percent to 17 percent over last winter's levels. This continuing growth in demand is beginning to overwhelm the hostel system. Clearly, something more or different needs to be done.

 The trend in shelter use by singles shown in Appendix "A" clearly demonstrates the problem. Over the past six years, service demands have increased by 63 percent. Single women and youth services grew by almost 80 percent. These figures are based on September occupancies. While winter levels are higher, the growth trend is the same.

 We do not know for sure what the trend will be in the future. There are many factors and pressures that come into play and forecasting is difficult. We rely heavily on recent trends in demand.

 While there is a perception that the trend is always upward, this is not accurate. Our records show that the use of singles hostels actually fell during the five-year period from 1988 to 1992. During that time, the single men's shelters reported a 30 percent reduction in demand. Unfortunately, those gains have since been wiped out by new demands.

The reduction in demand prior to 1992 was attributable to three major factors, as follows:

(1)construction workers, who rented single rooms in the city, left when the building boom ended. As a result, homeless singles found it easier to rent such rooms;

 (2)quite a large number of social and supportive housing projects targeted on single adults came on stream during this period; and

 (3)age demographics showed fewer men ages 20-30 years, when the incidence of homelessness is greater.

 The lesson we learned during the period from 1988 to 1992 is, despite the influence of many other factors, that housing is still the key to reducing homelessness. This is especially true if that housing is designed to meet the needs of singles who require supports.

 Current Initiatives:

 Appendix "D" describes the various initiatives currently underway. These changes are intended to improve services and to respond to growing pressures. Some changes are designed to ensure that existing shelters receive supports which allow their services to be sustainable. Other changes help the shelters address the specific needs of high risk groups of clients. Only a few add beds to the system.

 Several of the initiatives described in Appendix "D" offer alternatives or diversions from the hostel system. The four most important diversions are as follows:

(1)expansion of Habitat Services (Item No. 3) will add 100 boarding home beds in 1998 with 200 more planned for the future. While these are not shelters, these boarding homes reach many of the same adults who otherwise use shelters;

 (2)Adelaide Resource Centre for Women (Item No. 5) is preventative in that it helps vulnerable adult women living alone from becoming homeless;

 (3)Ordnance Residence (Item No. 7) will give many youth a clear pathway off the streets and out of the shelter system; and

 (4)Project Going Home (Item No. 19) can assist some people, who are stranded in Toronto and who are stuck in hostels, return to their home community.

 Expansion of Hostel Services:

 The hostel system is facing a very difficult task in further expanding its bed capacity for single adults. The natural opportunities for expansion have been exhausted by responding to pressures since 1992. These were as follows:

(1)a large number of churches and synagogues have joined together under the Out of the Cold network to help out with winter demands. The combined resources of volunteers, space and zoning rights have been put into action. Further expansion of the Out of the Cold is not anticipated;

 (2)quite a number of the existing hostels have increased their capacities by space conversions, redesign and building additions. Further increases are not expected as this option has also been exhausted; and

 (3)surplus City properties that could be converted to shelter use have been surveyed several times. In total, five such properties have become available of which four are still being used. We are not aware of any other City properties that could be used in this way.

 The above opportunities have allowed Hostel Services to keep up to demands over the past six years. However, these have now been exhausted and another approach is needed.


 Another 320 to 460 beds will likely be needed to ensure there is enough hostel space for single men, women and youth. This situation is potentially very serious. We cannot expect another exceptionally mild winter as the last one. Staff require the direction and authority to take the immediate steps needed to increase the capacity of the hostel system.

 Contact Name:

 Joanne Campbell

General Manager of Shelter, Housing and Support Division

Tel: 392-7885/Fax: 392-0548


 Appendix "A"

 Trend In Shelter Use By Singles

  Comparison of September Occupancies Over the Past Seven Years:

    Average Daily Occupancy
    Year  Youth  Women  Men  Total







1998 *3734151,2922,080

 Increase use during this period:

 By Percentage80%78%55%63%

By People166182459807

 Note: * 1998 figure based on occupancy on September 14, 1998.

Appendix "B"

 Hostel Services for Men Next Winter


       Agency  Program  Capacity


    (1)  Good Shepherd  - General hostel

- Barrett House

- Winter service




    (2)  Fife House  - two locations  10
    (3)  Na.Me.Res.  - General hostel  36
    (4)  Seaton House  - Cottages

- General hostel

- Residence

- Annex





    (5)  StreetCity  - Residence

- Mezzanine



    (6)  Richmond  - Winter service  60
    (7)  Salvation Army  - Lighthouse

- Maxwell Meighen

- Winter service

- College shelter





    (8)  Council Fire  - Winter service  80
    (9)  Strachan House  - Residence  35
    (10)  Parkdale Recovery  - Spadina House  10
    (11)  Out of the Cold  - University Settlement

- St. Patrick's Church

- Subsidized staff pool

- Regular programs

    Total Bed Capacity  1,689

  Hostel Services For Youth Next Winter


       Agency  Program  Capacity


    (1)  Covenant House  - General hostel

- Vancouver House



    (2)  Eva's Place  - General hostel  32
    (3)  Horizon's for Youth  - General hostel  35
    (4)  Second Base  - General hostel

- Special residence



    (5)  YWCA Stop 86  - General hostel  28
    (6)  Touchstone  - General hostel  33
    (7)  Turning Point  - General hostel  50
    (8)  YMCA House  - General hostel  55
    (9)  Youth Without Shelter  - General hostel  30
    (10)  60 Richmond  - Temporary hostel  25
    Total Bed Capacity  435

Hostel Services for Women Next Winter


       Agency  Program  Capacity


    (1)  Evangeline Residence  - General hostel  60
    (2)  Street Haven  - General hostel  22
    (3)  FVC Lombard  - General hostel  38
    (4)  St. Vincent de Paul  - Mary's Home

- Rendu House



    (5)  W.I.T. Bloor House  - General hostel  26
    (6)  YWCA Woodlawn  - General hostel  10
    (7)  Women's Residence  - General hostel

- Bellwood House

- Lounge




    (8)  Homes First Society  - StreetCity

- Strachan House

- Savard's House




    (9)  Nellie's  - General hostel  23
    (10)  Fife House  - AIDS Residence  6
    Total Bed Capacity  417


     Grand Total of All Single Programs  2,541Beds

Appendix "C"

 Projections for Singles for the Coming Winter

(1)Occupancy Comparisons Over the Past Four Years:

     Year  February




    1995  1,788  1,563
    1996  1,875  1,637
    1997  2,112  1,874
    1998  2,472  2,080


 (i)February levels are on average about 15.5 percent higher than September.

(ii)Demand increased 17 percent from February 1997 to February 1998.

(iii)Demand increased 11 percent from September 1997 to September 1998.

(iv)Demand increased between 20 percent to 32 percent from the above September levels to the February levels which followed.


If the above trends hold, then we can expect that demands this coming winter (February 1999) will be from a low of 2,750 to a high of 2,900 people per night averaged.

 If we allow for an occupancy spike of 4 percent for peak days, then the system would need a capacity of between 2,860 beds and 3,000 beds to meet the needs next winter.

 At the time this report was prepared, there is a confirmed capacity of 2,540 beds for the coming winter. Therefore, Hostel Services needs another 320 to 460 beds to meet forecasted demands.

Appendix "D"

 Toronto Hostel Services Initiatives to Improve and Expand Services to Singles

    Additional Costs
 (1)Out of the Cold

 This coalition of faith groups has provided additional services to homeless singles during the winter for a number of years. While the line-up of services for the coming winter has not been announced, organizers indicate that a number of improvements will be made, including a greater emphasis on youth services.


 -no cost
 (2)Staffing Pool

 Hostel Services provided subsidy to the Out of the Cold for a staffing pool last winter. This was very successful and we expect to expand this program for the coming winter. The staffing pool allows volunteers to draw on professional support when needed to assist with security, maintenance and counselling. The goal is to support not supplant the work of the hundreds of volunteers who have made Out of the Cold a success.



-caseload volume

-in the preliminary 1999 budget request

 (3)Habitat Services

 Plans are underway to expand this boarding home program from the current level of 707 beds to 1,007 in three phases. We believe the first 100-bed expansion will be in place by the end of 1998, the second 100 beds by mid-1999 and the final 100 beds by the end of 1999. The Habitat Services boarding home assist single homeless adults who are dealing with mental health issues. Without this service, most would wind up on the streets or in shelters.



-previously approved

-in the preliminary 1999 budget request

 (4)Boarding Homes for Women

 Because of past abuse or their current vulnerable state, many homeless women cannot live in co-ed boarding homes. Therefore, Hostel Services has supported changes to Habitat Services to add two all-women houses and the expansion of the existing all-women house. More such changes are planned for the future.

 -no cost
 (5)Adelaide Resource Centre for Women

 This facility which operates under the auspices of Women's Residence provides services and support to homeless and socially isolated women. Part of the mandate is preventative in that it is intended to help single women who live in rooming houses so that they do not experience further social breakdown leading to homelessness. A more complete range of services will be provided at the centre.



-in the preliminary 1999 budget

 (6)Women's Residence

 This is the largest shelter for single adult women and it works with the very hardest to serve. Currently, the property is under renovation. When it reopens in January 1999, all three of its shelter programs need to be reorganized and improved. These programs include:

 (a)Bellwood House, which helps 10 women who have been chronically homeless for many years;

(b)Emergency Hostel, which is the main shelter with 55 beds; and

(c)the Lounge, which is a new 15-bed program for women who cannot be safely admitted by any existing shelter.



-expansion and improvement

-in the preliminary 1999 budget


 (7)Ordnance Residence

(See also Clause No. 7 of Report No. 6 of The Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee.)

 Once completed, this new 50-bed hostel residence for youth will target those who are working on issues related to employment, job skills, education and treatment. The program will be managed by Eva's Place from North York, and all of the residents will be drawn from the nine existing youth shelters.


-caseload volume

-in the preliminary 1999 budget

 (8)Day Services for Youth

 Four youth shelters, which include Eva's Place (North York), Horizon's for Youth (York), Touchstone (East York), and Second Base (Scarborough), have raised funds to add day services for their residents. This improvement will provide these young people with additional help in dealing with personal issues and steps to independence.


 -no cost
 (9)Expansion of Youth Services

 Second Base recently added a new five-bed housing program which will help some of their residents learn life skills and become independent. The Youth Without Shelter facility in Etobicoke has also expanded their hostel program by another two beds.



-caseload volume

-in the preliminary 1999 budget

 (10)Maxwell Meighen Centre

 This Salvation Army facility has converted its 40-bed winter service into permanent use which raises its annual capacity to 240 beds. They also offer an additional 25 beds during extreme cold periods. The centre also converted six existing beds into a Primary Support Unit for some of the more vulnerable men, including those who are developmentally challenged.


 -already in the base 1998 budget
 (11)College Street Shelter

 This 108-bed facility is also operated by the Salvation Army. The centre recently expanded its counselling service to assist residents with issues related to employment, housing and treatment. The changes have been quite substantial.


 -no cost
 (12)Spadina House

 This 10-bed facility opened in August 1998 and helps homeless men who have made a commitment to sobriety. Because homeless men lack support system (job, home, family), the standard 28-day residential programs do not work. It is almost impossible to maintain sobriety on the streets or in shelters. Spadina House helps these men rebuild these support systems. All referrals into this facility are made by Seaton House.


-caseload volume

-in the preliminary 1999 budget

 (13)Palliative Care Program

(See also Clause No. 8 of Report No. 6 of The Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee.)

 This new service is provided in the Seaton House Annex and received professional support from Mount Sinai Hospital. The Annex is a wet hostel which assists 51 very hard to help men. About 10 percent are terminally ill at any one time. This is a pilot project and, because it is the first known in North America, a research component is built-in.


 -no cost
 (14)Annex Expansion

 Since the day it opened, the Seaton House Annex has been filled every night. Clearly, we are not meeting the needs of all of these chronically homeless men. In order to expand this service and to remove negative urban influences and conflicts, Annex staff have proposed the addition of a rural component to the centre. This service would be entirely voluntary, and be designed to help those men who want to establish a new purpose and direction in their lives.


 -(see separate report)
 (15)Good Shepherd Ministries

 This centre, which has been around for many years, has made a number of recent improvements in their services. They converted 16 existing beds to the Transitions Program which provides extra help to younger men who have stopped using drugs. Last winter, Good Shepherd Ministries also added 16 new beds to their existing 70 beds to meet the needs. They also operate a five-bed hostel residence for homeless men with AIDS. All these are in addition to their major food program which serves 400-500 meals a day to single adults.


 -no cost
 (16)University Settlement House

 Last winter, this centre opened a new 40-bed program to help with weekend demands during the cold season. This coming winter, the service will be expanded by another 10 beds and open earlier, on October 15, 1998.



-caseload volume

-in the 1999 preliminary budget


 The Salvation Army has reached an agreement to reopen this 50-bed winter shelter for men. A number of improvements will be made including additional maintenance and exterior security.


 -no cost
 (18)Council Fire

 This Aboriginal centre has addressed local community concerns and will reopen its winter overnight service for 80 adults. A new smoking room will be added to improve security. While the centre is operated by the Aboriginal community, all are welcomed.


 -no cost
 (19)Project Going Home

 This service began at Seaton House in late 1997 and on August 1, 1998 was expanded to all shelters. It is intended as a diversion program which helps homeless individuals and families stranded in Toronto to return to their communities of origin. The program is voluntary and staff verify that they will no longer be homeless upon arrival. We estimate that 600 individuals will be assisted through this new program.



-caseload offset

-in the preliminary 1999 budget

 Total Additional Costs  $1,982,000.00

 (A copy of the Appendix C chart referred to in the foregoing report was forwarded to all Members of Council with the Agenda of the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee for its meeting on October 8, 1998, and a copy thereof is on file in the office of the City Clerk.)


 The following persons, representing the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, appeared before the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee in connection with the foregoing matter, and delivered a Proposal for Emergency Relief Strategy for the City of Toronto:

-Ms. Cathy Crowe, RN, Queen West CHC;

-Mr. David Walsh, President, Realco Property Ltd.;

-Professor David Hulchanski;

-Mr. Peter Rosenthal; and

-Mr. Steve Lane.

 The following Members of Council were present at the meeting of the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee during the aforementioned deputation:

-Councillor Mario Giansante, Kingsway - Humber;

-Councillor Jack Layton, Don River;

-Councillor Pam McConnell, Don River; and

-Councillor Case Ootes, Deputy Mayor.


Please note that council and committee documents are provided electronically for information only and do not retain the exact structure of the original versions. For example, charts, images and tables may be difficult to read. As such, readers should verify information before acting on it. All council documents are available from the City Clerk's office. Please e-mail


City maps | Get involved | Toronto links
City of Toronto 1998-2001