News Release
March 17, 2022

A City of Toronto staff report going before the Economic and Community Development Committee on March 24 provides an update on the COVID-19 Shelter Transition and Relocation Plan and intended next steps for 2022. The report also requests authorities required for staff to implement this plan over the coming months, including the ability to extend lease and licence agreements at many temporary shelter sites, agreements for ancillary services that support those programs, and recommendations for new supports tailored to help refugee claimants seeking temporary accommodation.

The COVID-19 pandemic required Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) to continuously adapt program delivery to support the wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness. As a result, over the past two years, the shelter system has undergone significant transformation to respond to the unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19, which has undoubtedly saved the lives of people experiencing homelessness, some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

As sites are identified for decommissioning, staff will work to establish transition plans for each of the programs to be closed, in partnership with site operators, and will work to match clients with either permanent housing or space in the shelter system that meets their individual needs. The staff report includes the closing of potentially up to five temporary shelter sites in 2022 where the existing arrangements will no longer be available. Two locations have already been identified – 195 Princes’ Blvd. and 1684 Queen St. East – and will be decommissioned in spring 2022. Other locations are currently under review guided by the set of criteria outlined in the staff report.

Currently, there are 27 temporary shelter sites, which now make up approximately 40% of the total spaces in the City’s shelter system, and provide safe shelter to 3,200 people each night. A sudden reversal of these spaces is not recommended as it would cause significant disruption to the vital services delivered through the sites and to those who rely on them. Therefore, the staff report recommends a phased approach to transition over the next 24 months. Staff also recommend the use of most temporary shelters until at least April 2023 while the phased transition and relocation plan is implemented.

This recommended phased approach includes six core components of work – some of which are already underway – and form the basis of Phase 1 of the transition work plan in 2022.

  1. Engagement process and learning from other cities
  2. Extending temporary shelter locations while the phased transition plan is implemented
  3. Decommissioning up to five sites in 2022, with a focus on housing and offsetting shelter capacity
  4. Restoring temporary sites as they are decommissioned
  5. Creation of a dedicated refugee shelter sector to free up existing shelter capacity
  6. Develop decommissioning plan for more sites in 2023, based on learning from the first phase and monitoring of key indicators

Emergency responses are critically important to fill the gap when people are in immediate housing crisis. However, the real solution is permanent housing with supports, which is why the City’s 10-year housing plan, HousingTO 2020-2030 includes actions across the full housing spectrum – from homelessness to rental and ownership housing to long-term care for seniors. The plan calls for the approval of 40,000 new affordable rental homes including 18,000 new supportive homes by 2030. The City will continue to implement the Council-directed 24-Month COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Response Plan to add 2,000 supportive homes by the end of 2022. Since early 2021, with support of the Federal and Provincial governments, the City has created over 550 new supportive housing opportunities, with more than 300 additional supportive homes expected to begin occupancy this winter.

The staff report is available on the City’s website.

Up-to-date information about the COVID-19 Shelter Transition and Relocation Plan is available at

Members of the public who wish to make their views known about this matter, can submit comments or request to speak before the committee: The report is expected to go to Toronto City Council on April 6.

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