News Release
May 22, 2024

The City of Toronto is evolving its approach to encampments and supports for people experiencing homelessness based on feedback from the public, interested parties and recommendations from the City’s Ombudsman.  

To date, 28 of the 31 of the Ombudsman’s recommendations have been completed with work ongoing to address the remaining three recommendations. 

Encampments are a symptom of the housing affordability crisis, shelter demand that exceeds availability and other social crises such as mental health and drug toxicity. This staff report on encampments puts people first as it outlines a transparent and coordinated process to guide City staff in connecting people to indoor spaces while supporting the needs of surrounding communities. It marks a shift from enforcement and a move towards outreach, assistance and information.  

The report focuses on the following recommendations:  

  • Expanding the outreach model used at Dufferin Grove and Allan Gardens to additional encampment sites which offers increased supports to those living in encampments and focuses on moving them to indoor spaces.  
  • Exploring new service models as part of the Homelessness Services Capital Infrastructure Strategy. Through this strategy, City staff are working to lower barriers to indoor spaces such as respite sites and move toward smaller shelters to increase safety and stability. 
  • Enhancing shelter safety by developing a Shelter Safety Action Plan this year, including implementing recommendations made in the recent CAMH Shelter Safety Study. 
  • Increasing permanent housing opportunities and working to move people more easily from shelters into housing so more people from encampments can be offered indoor spaces. 
  • Continuing to secure funding from other governments to settle refugee claimants, expand shelter operations and increase affordable housing and the social supports that allow people to retain it. Particularly, securing Toronto’s next allotment of funding from the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit so 300 households can be moved each month from the shelter system into permanent housing. 

The report sets a new version of the City’s Interdivisional Protocol for Encampments in Toronto including guidelines for when an enhanced outreach model should be introduced, how individuals will be supported to move to indoor spaces and circumstances where measured enforcement may be required. 

The City remains committed to evolving its response to homelessness, partnering with all orders of government and adopting a multi-sector approach to build more affordable housing and provide a safe, vibrant city that is inclusive for all residents.  

Toronto Shelter and Support Services (TSSS) staff will present the report to the Economic and Community Development Committee on May 29.  

The full report and accompanying background materials are available on the City’s website. 


“Across Canada, encampments are the result of a lack of affordable housing, increases in rents and cost of living, and inadequate social supports. A growing number of people are struggling to find shelter and housing in our city. This is compounded by a lack of mental heal care, making a growing number of people more vulnerable. The City of Toronto has committed to progressively realizing the right to housing and has an obligation to treat people living in encampments with care and compassion – an approach that has already shown positive results.” 
– Councillor Alejandra Bravo (Davenport), Chair of the Economic & Community Development Committee 

“This report marks a shift away from enforcement and another step toward putting people first. We know we have to make housing a priority as we work to address the root causes of homelessness. We’re encouraged by the improvements we’ve seen through enhanced supports for people living encampments and will continue to adjust our approach to meet these needs.”
– Gord Tanner, General Manager, Toronto Shelter and Support Services 

Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation and climate action, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.


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