Today, the City of Toronto celebrated the official opening of a new shelter at 705 Progress Ave. at a community open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee and Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough-Guildwood). Operated by the City, the site will provide safe and pet-friendly emergency shelter and support services, including permanent housing referrals to individuals 18 years of age or older who identify as men experiencing homelessness in Toronto.
The new shelter is part of the George Street Revitalization project – a City Council-approved initiative that will see the closure of Seaton House men’s shelter and adjacent properties and their redevelopment into a world-class facility that serves people experiencing homelessness and seniors requiring long-term care, affordable transitional housing and a community hub.
Initially, the people moving into this shelter will come from Seaton House. Eventually, the shelter will become a resource for people experiencing homelessness from the local and broader community. With 25 shared bedrooms and two individual rooms, the shelter will initially open with 63 beds, to meet physical distancing requirements under the current Shelter Standards Directive.
Residents at 705 Progress Ave. will receive a neighbourhood orientation upon arrival to the shelter and have access to the following:
Shelter staff work with individuals to ensure that they are connected to the supports and resources they need to get and remain stably housed. They provide culturally-sensitive housing and case management supports, as well as on-site enhanced health care and mental health supports. Additionally, harm reduction supplies and supports are available to residents, and staff are trained in engagement strategies, crisis management and de-escalation techniques.
The new shelter at 705 Progress Ave. is outfitted with a commercial kitchen, a communal dining and programming room, meeting spaces, a computer lab, a TV lounge, laundry facilities and a pet washing station. It is decorated with colourful artwork – in the front, dining and back areas of the building – created by local artists.
Washrooms and showers are barrier-free, and accessibility features adhering to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards have been built into the shelter’s design. The building features a 24/7 security system, bike racks, visitors’ parking, exterior LED lighting and an outdoor client lounge and pet area.
The shelter is located near essential services and only a 10-minute walk from Scarborough Town Centre and the TTC’s McCowan Station. Through support from the local Councillor, the nearest bus stop was moved directly in front of the shelter, providing easy access to public transit.
In the last two years, City staff worked with the local Councillor’s office to engage the 705 Progress Ave. community. This included a third-party community engagement facilitator, community outreach, a virtual public information session, a project webpage and valuable conversations with key stakeholders including community residents and partners, neighbouring businesses and members of the Toronto Police Service. The 705 Progress Ave. Community Liaison Committee (CLC), comprising the aforementioned key stakeholders, has been meeting regularly since December 2020.
The new shelter is committed to building partnerships in the community and help address the issue of homelessness in Scarborough, with a vision of helping people experiencing homelessness in Toronto to secure permanent housing. The site is part of Toronto’s emergency shelter system — the largest in Canada, with more than 7,700 current shelter spaces.
“The City continues to help vulnerable people access safe emergency shelter and that they are assisted in finding permanent housing as quickly as possible. This new shelter at 705 Progress Ave. will provide critical shelter and support services to individuals coming from Seaton House during the next phase of the George Street Revitalization project.”
– Mayor John Tory
“I am pleased to see the new City-operated shelter open at 705 Progress Ave. in Scarborough. Such emergency facilities are critically important for people experiencing an immediate housing crisis. City staff at this site will provide person-centred, outcome-focused services to help people access needed emergency supports and ensure they are on the path to finding stable housing. I wish all staff and residents of Seaton House a smooth transition.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“I’m delighted to welcome the new shelter at 705 Progress Ave. to the Scarborough community. This site will connect individuals experiencing homelessness in Toronto with emergency shelter and critical services, including local resources that will support them on their journey towards moving into permanent housing as quickly as possible and getting back on their feet. We worked hard with City staff over the last two years to engage the local community, including residents and partners, neighbouring businesses and members of the Toronto Police Service.”
– Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough-Guildwood)
“Staff at the new City-operated shelter at 705 Progress Ave. will work together with people experiencing homelessness to provide the important wraparound supports they need, which includes work to develop a housing plan and connections to services like primary and mental health care. City staff have many years of experience working with people experiencing homelessness and are provided with ongoing training to ensure they are well-equipped to support residents in transitioning successfully to housing. With this new site, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration is committed to building partnerships in the Scarborough community and help address the issue of homelessness, with a vision of becoming a stepping stone to housing for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto.”
– Gordon Tanner, General Manager (Acting), Shelter, Support & Housing Administration
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