Mapping Toronto's Homeless Shelters
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Mapping Toronto’s Homeless Shelters

While the need for shelter services is spread throughout the city, they're mostly located downtown.

Toronto, as is often said, is in a housing crisis. Today, the Toronto Star reported that Toronto Community Housing closed 350 units this year because they were deemed uninhabitable. The waiting list for subsidized housing, meanwhile, continues to grow: 78,248 households were on the list in 2014.

TCHC’s $2.6 billion repair backlog, unless fully funded by the province and federal government, is projected to result in 7,500 condemned units by 2023. In September, Torontoist looked at rooming houses, a form of affordable housing that’s illegal in much of the city and subject to strict conditions elsewhere. As gentrification and redevelopment of neighbourhoods such as Parkdale and Moss Park continue; the supply of low-rent private housing, like rooming houses and single-room occupancy hotels such as the Hotel Waverly, continues to decline.

“Last resort housing”, otherwise known as Toronto’s network of homeless shelters, is in a similar crisis. According to the Toronto Foundation’s Vital Signs report, 3,038 single persons made use of emergency shelters in 2014; up from 2,917 (4.1 per cent) in 2012. For families, the two-year increase is more dramatic, as 1,022 families made use of Toronto’s shelters in 2014, up 10.1 per cent from 2012.

Most shelter beds, such as the 580-bed Seaton House, (by far the largest in Toronto), are located in the inner city, with the East Downtown having the greatest concentration. But shelters housing youth, single women and families are generally more spread out, with many in the suburbs, where homelessness and the lack of affordable housing is increasingly a problem. Four motels on Kingston Road in Scarborough now serve as permanent, city-operated, family shelters. Also in Scarborough, Second Base (Scarborough’s only youth shelter) closed on October 1, and with it, 60 beds.

Downtown, the YMCA opened a brand new youth shelter and drop-in centre on Vanauley Street, replacing a dilapidated spot nearby on Queen Street West. The downside: the new Vanauley Street site has only 40 beds, down from 45.

Below is a map illustrating the location of all 58 shelters in the City of Toronto, obtained from the City of Toronto’s Open Data catalogue. This map does not include the winter-only “Out of the Cold” shelters, which are found mostly in church basements downtown and spread out in the inner suburbs, nor does it include transitional housing or daytime drop-in centres catering to homeless and under-housed individuals.

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