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Today, the Economic and Community Development Committee at the City of Toronto debated the COVID-19 Shelter Transition and Relocation Plan Update 2023. The plan outlines closing five emergency shelters and extending some hotel shelter leases into 2024.

COVID-19 has exposed deeply systemic disparities and critical failings in our city’s social infrastructure. Prior to the pandemic, Toronto was already in a housing crisis, which now, has only worsened. Updates from the report sent to the committee confirm that a majority of shelter residents end up back in the shelter system, with, in some cases, upwards of 25% of people in unknown locations unable to access services.

Housing is a basic human right. It is time for the City of Toronto to prioritize the safety and security of ALL its residents. We need more supportive, transitional, and affordable housing. Broaden affordable rental programs. Keep emergency shelters open until a plan to relocate to housing is in place.

We are committed to continuing to work with our Shelter, Support & Housing Administration colleagues, the housing and shelter sector, and our communities to create a shelter and housing system where no one is left behind. We have shared these thoughts with the committee.