News Release
April 29, 2020

As part of the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and to help stop the spread of the virus, the City of Toronto is providing interim housing for people sleeping outdoors.

The new interim housing is located in two vacant apartment buildings in Midtown Toronto. The buildings are being leased by the City from a local developer.

This welcome partnership allows the City to provide temporary housing with supports for vulnerable clients for up to six months. The property, owned by the Times Group, is slated for demolition as part of a revitalization project and is available until the issuance of construction permits resumes.

The new program is located in two connected, vacant mid-rise apartment buildings. There is a total of 125 furnished units for clients. The City thanks DelSuites for donating furniture and housewares for 40 of these units. There is a kitchen available in each unit, and clients will have access to laundry, free wi-fi and cable television. The building is accessible and pet-friendly. Each unit will cost the City $55 per day to rent, plus HST and utilities. There is no cost to clients.

Clients will be provided with on-site supports including meals, 24/7 staff support, security and case management focused on long-term housing and other immediate needs, including harm reduction supports. This interim housing will help act as a bridge to more permanent housing options for these residents.

Health and safety are a priority: active and ongoing screening for COVID-19 symptoms, infection prevention and control measures, and enhanced room and common area cleaning will be undertaken.

The City’s Streets to Homes outreach team, working with community partners, will approach individuals and couples who are sleeping outdoors for an opportunity to move into these units. Access to units will be prioritized for clients in encampment sites that present health and safety concerns and are identified as higher risk to COVID-19 related harms.

The City gained temporary possession of the building this week and has quickly mobilized to:

  • work with Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Building and other divisions to ensure buildings and units are safe;
  • furnish the buildings;
  • secure contracts for linens, security, food, laundry and cleaning;
  • engage individuals and couples who are experiencing homelessness and sleeping outdoors and work with those who want to move; and
  • arrange for transport of clients, pets and their belongings into the program.

There has been a suspension on the clearing of encampments since the start of the pandemic. Beginning today, clients staying in outdoor locations identified for this program will be offered access to a variety of indoor spaces including this interim housing program and will be notified of clearing of the encampment sites they are on. Outreach teams will continue to engage with clients at these sites after these encampment clearing notices have been posted.

Access to units will be prioritized for clients who are chronically homeless and identified as having a higher risk to COVID-19, and in encampment sites that are located in areas that lack sanitary and food resources and present health and safety concerns to them and the general public.

The goal of this innovative new program is to provide a safe space for clients who are sleeping outdoors that is conducive to physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. It will also reduce the number of clients in encampments and bedded down outside across the city and provide them with health and well-being supports. This is part of a rapid, overall strategy to open 23 new sites with more than 1,400 spaces for isolation, physical distancing, recovery and housing.

For more information on housing and shelter supports visit http://www.swirlybuns.com/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/.

Quotes:

“The City of Toronto is doing everything we can as a municipal government to help our most vulnerable residents during the pandemic. This is an innovative plan to help house those most in need.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Ending chronic homelessness is not a slogan, it’s possible. Everyone deserves to have a safe and affordable home, and access to services that help individuals achieve housing stability. The fact is we need a range of housing options that meet the different and unique needs of people experiencing homelessness.? Programs like this that expand access to housing in our city and community mark a positive step forward in our goal of ending homelessness”.

-Councillor Joe Cressy, Chair, Board of Health, Spadina-Fort York (Ward 10)

“The Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division is working around the clock on wonderful initiatives like this one with the Times Group to temporarily house clients who sleep outdoors in up to 125 spaces where they will have their own self-contained unit on a temporary basis. This program provides the safety and stability they need while our housing workers assist them to develop a plan for permanent housing. This is part of a much larger plan that SSHA has implemented rapidly in the last few weeks to move more than 1,400 people who are experiencing homelessness into new locations by the end of April.”

– Mary-Anne Bédard, General Manager, Shelter Support and Housing Administration

“Our partnership with the City at this unprecedented time in history enables us to provide living space for the most vulnerable when it is needed most. Additionally, with the lease proceeds, we have committed to donating $500,000 to Toronto’s food banks. Speaking for my partners and our entire staff, we feel it’s our duty as citizens to help.”

– Hashem Ghadaki, President of Times Group.

“Homelessness is inextricably linked to health. This partnership helps advance the housing needs and protection for people through COVID-19. And hopefully enables more lasting solutions for the improved health and well-being of our most disadvantaged patient populations.”

– Dr. Andrew Boozary, Executive Director, Health and Social Policy at University Health Network

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 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 consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit http://www.swirlybuns.com or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.

 

Media Relations