Relocating Shelter Services in Ward 10

In early 2024, St. Felix Centre, with support from the City of Toronto, will open a shelter at 629 Adelaide St. W. for people experiencing homelessness. This is a relocation of the original low-barrier respite program operated by St. Felix Centre at 25 Augusta Ave., which closed in July 2023 and is being converted to 31 units of long-term affordable housing. The Adelaide site will open with approximately 50 spaces.

In early 2024, St. Felix Centre, with support from the City of Toronto, will open a shelter at 629 Adelaide St. W. for people experiencing homelessness. This is a relocation of the original low-barrier respite program operated by St. Felix Centre at 25 Augusta Ave., which closed in July 2023 and is being converted to 31 units of long-term affordable housing. The Adelaide site will open with approximately 50 spaces.

Many residents have reached out over the past few weeks to understand how this decision was made, share concerns they have, and inquire as to what opportunities there are for their voices to be heard. 

We also know that approximately 10,000 Toronto residents are currently facing homelessness and right now over 300 people per night cannot access safe indoor space. It's plain to anyone walking down the street or through local parks that people are being left behind right now. The City of Toronto has a fundamental duty to house residents safely. I unreservedly support providing shelter for our unhoused neighbours. Patrons of these facilities are our fellow Torontonians: they deserve respect and the opportunity to access services in their community as they work towards long-term housing. 

I am deeply committed to hearing from community members and working closely with you, City staff, and staff at St. Felix Centre to ensure the operations at 629 Adelaide St. W. are successful. 

My office has taken action by working with City staff and St Felix Centre to accelerate plans and increase opportunities for community engagement, including holding additional stakeholder updates and moving up the date of the planned community information session to November 22. My team and I will be present at that meeting. 

On this page, you’ll find information about:

  • Recent updates on services
  • How the City of Toronto is working to address the housing crisis 
  • How the City decides where shelters are located
  • How you can be engaged in the process

Recent updates on services

The City and St Felix Centre have made several changes to continue to support people experiencing homelessness and address feedback received regarding 629 Adelaide St W. 

The site will now open as a shelter for single adults of all genders, instead of as a 24-hour low barrier respite site. Based on the change to shelters, we are aiming to open the site with a capacity of approx. 50 beds. The shelter is planned to open in Spring 2024. 

A variety of factors influenced the change to the service model, including community feedback, available budget, and a further assessment of the layout and square footage of the space.

As a shelter, the site will offer:

  • A mandatory intake triage process and comprehensive case management and housing support for all guests, with a focus on helping them secure permanent housing as quickly as possible
  • Indoor accommodations
  • Meals prepared on-site
  • Wraparound supports including primary healthcare services, mental health and crisis management, income/employment supports and assessments and referrals to other community services, as needed
  • Pet supports to people accessing the program, including food and emergency veterinary care
  • Recreation and programming, including an enclosed outdoor space with picnic tables

The site will be staffed 24/7 by individuals who are trained in de-escalation, conflict resolution, crisis prevention, intervention and management, and harm reduction services and support.

Community Safety Teams will be recruited to provide 24/7 outreach in the community and to support the successful integration of the shelter program.  These staff will have eyes on the community outside the shelter and can also safely dispose of any drug paraphernalia found.  Proactive and ongoing work will also occur with the local schools. The ongoing use of a community safety team will be reassessed over time and redeployed as needed.

St. Felix is a trusted long-term nonprofit partner with considerable experience in providing homelessness services to those in need. They also have a proven track record of meaningful engagement with local communities in the vicinity of their sites. On this specific site, they’ll be adding a Community Liaison Worker position to their staff team to engage with community members, local businesses and residential associations to both respond to concerns and to seek opportunities for partnership and collaboration. 

What action is the City taking on the housing crisis? 

Addressing housing instability is a multi-faceted effort that involves protecting rental units, increasing the number of deeply affordable homes, providing rent support to prevent evictions, and expanding the number of shelter spaces to match the growing need. As pandemic reliefs come to an end, every level of government must step up and provide both emergency and long-term funding to address the housing crisis and ensure no one is left behind. Our collective end goal must be affordable and sustainable long-term housing for all and the elimination of the need for these respite sites.

The City's position and that of many shelters and respite sites is that the safest spaces are indoor spaces. Our current shelter system is often near or at full capacity. Some residents have been turned away or felt unsafe in these spaces, leaving many to feel that living outdoors is their best option. The City's centralized waitlist for subsidized housing for long-term rent-geared to income housing is unfortunately substantial and we know more must be done in the short-term to provide support. 

I am actively working with my council colleagues and Mayor Chow to meet the housing crisis with the urgency it requires and to utilize all tools at the City’s disposal. Actions we have taken over the last few months include: 

  • Moving to build 65,000 new affordable homes, including two priority sites in Spadina-Fort York
  • Raising the Vacant Home Tax from 1% to 3%, with increased funding to supplement the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program, that preserves rental housing in Toronto
  • Redefining "affordable rental housing" and "affordable home ownership" to be based on income in the City’s 2020-2030 action plan
  • Exploring the potential for office conversions - and affordable housing - in Downtown Toronto

There are also a number of policy choices from the provincial government that have significantly contributed to the current housing crisis, byproducts of which are an influx of homelessness and people living outdoors. These choices include wholly insufficient income supports for those living on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) that are creating conditions for poverty and economic instability. The current provincial minimum wage is also unlivable in the City of Toronto.

The Province has not granted formal permission for the City's inclusionary zoning plan, which would guarantee a certain amount of each new development be earmarked for affordable housing. The Province has also removed rent-control on buildings first occupied after late 2018 which has led to higher and often unsustainable rents.

How does the City decide where sites go? 

City Councillors don't get to decide where shelter services are located. Our professional City staff are tasked with ensuring these essential services get located where there is an existing need in the local population. As a relocation, spaces in the area of the previous program were prioritized.

To be considered as a potential new shelter service, sites must meet applicable zoning and shelter by-law requirements, be close to transit and resources, be in a state of good repair, and meet minimum sizing requirements. Sizing requirements vary based on the type of service to be offered (e.g. shelter versus 24-hour Respite Site, or Warming Centre). 

We know that in our dense downtown communities, there is significant unmet need for shelter support. Existing sites located in the area may serve different communities or have limited capacity. 

How can I be engaged in the process? 

For the Adelaide site, the City has hired a Community Engagement Facilitator, Barnes Management Group, to lead and manage community engagement. 

Over the last several weeks they, along with the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) and St Felix Centre, have met with several community members, held multiple stakeholder discussions including with leadership at St. Mary’s Catholic School, and received feedback, questions, and concerns about this program. They are always available to answer questions or share information at [email protected]

There will be a Public Information Session for all community members on Wednesday November 22 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. You can join two ways: 

  • Online: By ZOOM
  • Phone: 587-328-1099
    Enter the access code 934542 followed by #

Attendees are encouraged to email questions in advance of the virtual session to [email protected]. 

As we get closer to the opening of the shelter, a Community Liaison Committee will be established with key community stakeholders including local BIAs, resident associations, condo associations, other local service providers and Toronto Police Neighbourhood officers.

The City of Toronto also has a website for this location that will be updated throughout this process.

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