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How many shelters are there for homeless people in Toronto? And other skill-testing questions about homelessness

Q. How many shelter facilities are there in Toronto? Name them.

Name them? NAME THEM? What is this, some kind of Reach for the Top game, Municipal Issues version?

Mind you, I was on Reach for the Top (the antecedent to Jeopardy, for those who didn’t know) when it was just a high-school competition, back when I was a young thing in North Vancouver.

My possibly greatest moment was coming up with the answer “Tecumseh,” after only one clue out of what was going to be a series of four clues. I don’t even know how I did it, as my unconscious mind seemed to take over from my conscious mind as I spat out the answer.

But I digress. Shelters in Toronto. No, I don’t know all the names. Jeez, what a question. When I worked on my one-year fellowship (’98-99) to study homelessness, I spent a lot of time hanging around Seaton House in Toronto, the biggest and main shelter. That was one craaazy place, but I got to feel quite at home there, even though it was about 10 times bigger than anything I had ever visited it Vancouver.

(Back then, for those who don’t remember, Vancouver was considered to be doing really well. There were maybe about 500 people in shelters, very few sleeping outside, while Toronto had homeless people all over the streets, sleeping on street grates, at bus shelters, in numerous churches all over town, along with the city-run shelters like Seaton and others.)

Anyway, if you’re really dying to know the names, I have pasted below here a list obtained from Toronto’s 2011 Guide to Services for People Who Are Homeless. Phone numbers included, if you need them. As you can see, it’s quite a lengthy list. Since you asked, 44 to be exact.

As well, here’s a link to what are described as Toronto’s city shelters (as opposed to shelters run by other agencies with some money from the city).

But if your question is really about how do homeless services and the number of homeless people in Toronto compare to here, I have dug out this report from 2009, which appears to be the last update on the situation in Toronto. (I guess they are too busy arguing about whether they have a mayor and which bike lanes should be removed next to produce anything more recent.)

You’ll see that Toronto also (under leftish mayor David Miller) also set out a target of eliminating street homelessness and the city was measuring its progress on that front. Just like the current Mayor Gregor Robertson/Vision Vancouver team. Conspiracy? You decide.

Here’s a section from the report:

In 2005, City Council made a commitment to end street homelessness in Toronto. On
April 15, 2009 the Street Needs Assessment demonstrated clear progress on this
objective, with an estimated outdoor homeless population of 400. This represents a
decrease of 51% over the 2006 outdoor homeless population estimate of 818.
In those service areas that are directly administered by the City of Toronto, street
outreach and emergency shelters, there were an estimated 4,390 homeless individuals
on April 15, 2009, a 1.7% decrease since 2006.

There are numerous reports you can look up to see what Vancouver’s counts were of people sleeping on the streets or in shelters over the years. But here’s a little news release from the Mental Health Commission of Canada that summarizes some of the main numbers.

Hope this answers all your questions. (List of shelters after the break here.)

Beatrice House 416-652-0077 177 Caledonia Road
Birkdale Residence 416-392-5650 1229 Ellesmere Road
Family Residence 416-397-1318 4222 Kingston Road
Robertson House 416-392-5662 291 Sherbourne Street
Sojourn House 416-864-0515 101 Ontario Street
Toronto Community Hostel 416-925-4431 191 Spadina Road
WoodGreen Red Door Queen Shelter 416-469-3457 875 Queen Street East
Christie Refugee Welcome Centre 416-588-9277 43 Christie Street
Mixed Adult
Assessment and Referral Centre* 416-392-0090 129 Peter Street (open 24 hours)
COSTI Reception Centre 416-922-6688 100 Lippincott Street
Dixon Hall Heyworth House 416-691-0012 2714 Danforth Avenue
Fife House 416-205-9888 conidential address
Fred Victor Bethlehem United Shelter 416-644-1734 1161 Caledonia Road
Homes First Society – Strachan House 416-395-0928 805 A Wellington Street West
Homes First Society – 3576 St. ClairAvenue East 416-395-0993 3576 St. Clair Avenue East
University Settlement Part-time Shelter 416-598-3444 23 Grange Road
Single Men
Christie-Ossington Men’s Shelter 416-516-8642 973 Lansdowne Avenue
Cornerstone Place 416-658-5224 833 St. Clair Avenue West
Dixon Hall Schoolhouse 416-960-9240 349 George Street
Good Shepherd Centre 416-869-3619 412 Queen Street East
Native Men’s Residence 416-652-0334 14 Vaughan Road
Sagatay 416-651-6750 26 Vaughan Road
Salvation Army – Gateway 416-368-0324 107 Jarvis Street
Salvation Army – Hope 416-979-7058 167 College Street
Salvation Army – Maxwell Meighen Centre 416-366-2733 135 Sherbourne Street
Scott Mission Overnight Shelter 416-923-8872 502 Spadina Avenue
Seaton House Main Site 416-392-5522 339 George Street
Seaton House – Birchmount Residence 416-392-6164 1673 Kingston Road
Seaton House – Downsview Dells 416-392-5452 1651 Sheppard Ave. West
Seaton House – Fort York 416-338-8800 38 Bathurst Street
St. Simon’s Shelter 416-925-7475 525 Bloor Street East

Single Women
Fred Victor Centre Women’s Hostel 416-368-2642 86 Lombard Street,
Homes First Society – Savard’s 416-395-0932 1322 Bloor Street West
Nellie’s 416-461-1084 conidential address
Salvation Army – Evangeline Residence 416-762-9636 2808 Dundas Street West
Salvation Army – Florence Booth 416-603-9800 723 Queen Street West
St. Vincent De Paul – Amelie House 416-465-0475 126 Pape Avenue
St. Vincent De Paul – Elisa House 416-259-2528 60 Newcastle Street
St. Vincent De Paul – Mary’s Home 416-595-1578 70 Gerrard Street East
St. Vincent De Paul – St. Clare’s Residence 416-225-3466 3410 Bayview Avenue
Street Haven at the Crossroads 416-967-6060 87 Pembroke Street
Women’s Residence Main Site 416-392-5500 674 Dundas Street West
Women’s Residence – Bellwoods House 416-392-5791 63 Bellwoods Avenue
YWCA First Stop Woodlawn 416-922-3271 80 Woodlawn Avenue East


  • Raingurl

    I’m trying to decide between “thumbs up” for “like” (because it’s really great that there are so many places people can go) or “thumbs down” for “dislike” because there shouldn’t be that many people needing that many places to go. This is Canada, there shouldn’t be any homeless PERIOD……..

  • Bill Lee

    “When I worked on my one-year fellowship (’98-99) to study homelessness, I spent a lot of time hanging around Seaton House in Toronto, the biggest and main shelter. That was one craaazy place, but I got to feel quite at home there, even though it was about 10 times bigger than anything I had ever visited it Vancouver.”

    And this Study-in-Toronto-at-UofT journalism fellowship resulted in 52 pages (3.5 megabytes)

    and 2 hours on CBC Ideas series Originally broadcast: 25/10/1999 and 01/11/1999 on CBC Radio One.
    No Place Like Home
    (1999) Transcript $14.00, CD
    $26.00, 2 hours
    Who are the homeless? And how did they get that way? Should housing be as much a right as
    education and health care? These questions have been fiercely debated for the past twenty years. Vancouver journalist Frances Bula,
    currently Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, spent a year visiting shelters, housing projects and homes across Canada, the United
    States and Europe to find out how homelessness is defined and how definitions shape policy.
    [ Some libraries are buying or ‘receiving’ the CDs as talking books. Ask around.

  • Bill Lee

    Homeless die in Toronto, probably more than in Vancouver, because of the cold.
    Very annoying to scrape up the solid curled up lump with the frozen flesh sticking to the metal heating grate in the morning at 20 below.

    There are more there because it is a larger province, it has resources. The huge factories draw many people to the region and when they lose their job, everthing, then… what?

    Also Toronto, known as the City of the Good, has always had a strong Social Gospel [ ].
    Vancouver had the old First United under Andrew Roddan (read “God in the Jungles” by Andrew Roddan, or his “Canada’s Untouchables: The Story of The Man Without a Home” By Rev. Andrew Roddan)
    St. James (High) Anglican Church in the same neighbourhood does similar work now and then.
    and you can see in the list St. Vincent De Paul, the Catholic charity.

    Read old Globe and Mail articles by Stevie Cameron (more famous for books like “On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years”), about the homeless in Toronto and her stories about how she helped found an Out of the Cold program for the homeless at her church, St. Andrew’s, in downtown Toronto. For such work she got an honourary degree from UBC’s VST.

  • Raingurl

    I think Canada needs to buck up and pay higher taxes so we can HOUSE the homeless not shelter them.

  • Bill Lee

    And the last ‘Rental’ column in the Toronto Star.

    Lifelong Renter
    Pondering the future of affordable housing
    January 26, 2013
    by David Hayes
    SPECIAL TO THE STAR–pondering-the-future-of-affordable-housing

    “Thinking of the future of Toronto and its rental housing needs in 2013 and beyond, I decided to talk to three people familiar with the issues. As background, I’ve come to think of Toronto’s rental housing market as having three tiers: affordable housing for citizens with low incomes who need some level of subsidy to get decent accommodation; reasonably-priced, market-priced rental housing for the middle class, especially families; and a niche market of people who want, and can afford, high-end rental units (and choose, for various reasons, not to buy).”
    [ more ]

  • Bill Smolick

    Raingurl’s sunny optimism and willful ignorance of my personal finances are inspiring, but let’s face a reality: there will *always* be homeless people. There are homeless people in every country.

    Yes, we should make realistic efforts to minimize the problem and in that sense stating a goal of “eliminating homelessness” might be a good thing–reach for the top instead of striving for mediocrity.

    It won’t work though. You won’t eliminate it.

  • Given housing the homeless is a provincial responsibility… maybe its time to update this report Frances, give Homeless Dave a spot, and catch up on the basics all over again: