In light of unprecedented demand for services from people experiencing homelessness, the City of Toronto will extend the availability of 24-hour respite sites beyond the scheduled April 15 closure. With two existing sites unable to continue operation, the city will open two new temporary 24-hour respite sites in May to ensure the ongoing availability of meals, service referrals and places to rest for those who are experiencing homelessness in Toronto.
“On January 31, City Council directed us to retain operations of the necessary respite programs beyond the scheduled April 15 closures to respond to the high demand in the shelter system,” said Paul Raftis, General Manager of Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, the City division responsible for housing and homelessness services. “Together with our community and City partners, we’ve developed a plan that means everyone who asks for service is offered a safe and welcoming place to go.”
Respite sites are designed to broaden the services available to those experiencing homelessness. They provide 24-hour essential supports in an environment that prioritizes ease of access and admission to the facility. Having these lower barriers makes respite sites more accessible, especially to those who are vulnerable.
The two new temporary 24-hour respite sites are located at arenas owned and operated by the City of Toronto. Lambton Arena at 4100 Dundas St. W. will open May 7, and Don Mills Civitan at 1030 Don Mills Rd. will open May 21. While these facilities provide safe places for Torontonians to seek respite, there will be no interference with existing programs as no programming occurs at these sites during the summer months. Each site has sufficient shower and washroom facilities, welcomes pets, will serve all genders and is accessible by public transit.
The opening of these two new temporary 24-hour respite sites will coincide with the closing of two existing sites in May, 348 Davenport Rd. and the Better Living Centre. All other respite sites will remain open at their current locations and at their current capacity with the exception of Margaret’s on Dundas St. E. which was unable to accommodate the request for full-service continuation due to building repairs. That program will continue with 50 spaces, scaled back from 110 as of April 15. A plan is in place to connect service users with housing or offer options for alternative shelter and respite sites. Existing respite locations continue to be pet-friendly, and three are for women only.
The city will also introduce standards for 24-hour respite sites by mid-November, in time for the 2018-2019 winter season. Interim standards will be posted to the city’s website by the end of April, and broad consultations will begin later this spring.
Since the beginning of 2018, the city has added 807 shelter beds, including 648 beds in motel programs and 159 in emergency shelter programs.
A separate initiative is underway and on track to create 1,000 new shelter beds by 2020.
Service information about homelessness programs in Toronto is available at toronto.ca/homelesshelp.
The following 24-hour respite sites will remain open until further notice:
• 354 George St., operated by Homes First. Capacity: increasing to 105 from 100.
• 201 Cowan Ave., operated by Dixon Hall, for women only. Capacity: 21.
• 705 Progress Ave., operated by Warden Woods. Capacity: 49.
• 21 Park Rd., operated by Margaret’s. Capacity: 30.
• 25 Augusta Ave., operated by St. Felix. Capacity: 50.
• 323 Dundas St. E., operated by Margaret’s. Capacity: decreasing to 50 from 110.
• 962 Bloor St. W., 24-hour drop-in for women only, operated by Sistering. Capacity: 50.
• 67 Adelaide St. E., 24-hour drop-in for women only, operated by Fred Victor. Capacity: 67.
The following 24-hour respite sites will close in May 2018:
• As of May 11, services will close at the Better Living Centre, located at 195 Princes’ Blvd. in Exhibition Place. A plan is in place to connect service users with housing or offer options for alternative shelter and respite sites, including a new service at Lambton Arena, 4100 Dundas St. W. which opens its doors on May 7.
• As of May 25, services will no longer be available at 348 Davenport Rd. The site will be renovated and re-open later this year as a new permanent shelter for women. A plan is in place to connect service users with housing or offer options for alternative shelter and respite sites, including a new service that opens on May 21 at Don Mills Civitan Arena at 1030 Don Mills Rd.
The following new 24-hour respite sites will open on a temporary basis for approximately four months:
• Opening May 7, 2018: Lambton Arena, 4100 Dundas St. W. Operated by Fred Victor. Capacity: 100. TTC directions: travel to High Park subway station and board the 30 Lambton bus to Howland Avenue.
• Opening May 21: Don Mills Civitan Arena, 1030 Don Mills Rd. Operated by the City of Toronto. Capacity: 100. TTC directions: travel to Pape subway station and take the northbound 185 Don Mills bus to Lawrence Avenue.